Three great things were made in 1863: a choral masterpiece, City Choir Dunedin and a harmonium; three great things brought together in a single performance.
City Choir Dunedin is pleased to announce a performance of Gioachino Rossini’s 'Petite Messe Solennelle'. From 1863 to today, this masterpiece of whimsy and joy is as fresh as ever. In style the work is essential Rossini: playful and decorative. The emphasis is on beautiful vocal melody and the composition is punctuated by extravagant gestures which at times verge on the comical.
The soloists for this delightful oratorio are Rebecca Ryan, Claire Barton, Jared Holt and Federico Freschi. David Burchell directs and conducts the performance.
The singers are accompanied by an unusual chamber-sized ensemble: two grand pianos played by John van Buskirk and Sandra Crawshaw, and Ron Newton on the harmonium. The brighter tone of the harmonium provides pseudo-orchestral colour and sustained harmonic support to the singers, in contrast to the often-brittle figuration in the piano parts.
Remarkably we are using a French harmonium made in Paris in 1863, the year in which Petite Messe Solennelle was composed. City Choir Dunedin was established in 1863, 158 years ago!
The harmonium, also called a reed organ, is a free-reed keyboard instrument that has no pipes. Pitch is determined by the size of the reed while separate sets of reeds provide different tone colours. The quality of the sound is determined by the size and shape of the tone chamber surrounding each reed of a given set. The harmonium was a popular church and household instrument until the electronic organ drove it from the market after the 1930s.
Don’t miss this opportunity to hear a live performance of Petite Messe Solennelle; it is neither small, nor solemn!