Rossini’s mass in an operatic-style is sure to ‘put a spring in your step’

Phoenix Choir Eastbourne. By Wil Wardle Photography
Phoenix Choir Eastbourne. By Wil Wardle Photography

After their much acclaimed performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion in February, Phoenix Choir is now enjoying rehearsals for Gioachino Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle in preparation for their summer concert on June 9.

Their St Matthew Passion was praised for keeping the audience fully engaged throughout and was described as a ‘wonderfully, deeply moving event’.

Although this programme has a completely different feel, there is a common thread with Rossini also bringing opera to a sacred work. Rossini wrote his mass with a serious underlying purpose in mind and yet those familiar with the Petite Messe Solennelle will know that it is neither small nor solemn but is a sacred mass in a distinctly operatic style.

That said, much to the relief of the choir (but perhaps the disappointment of some) the choir will be performing in their usual summer concert dress and not as pictured in last week’s Herald! It is little wonder that Rossini dominated the opera scene during the first half of the 19th Century. His music ‘puts a spring in your step with its vitality, untroubled spirit and inexhaustible flow of melody’. The many benefits to mind and body of singing together with others are now widely accepted. Certainly Rossini is a good tonic. Members of the choir are thoroughly enjoying rehearsals. As one member said – “they are such a joy!”

With his masterful use of pace, rhythm, dynamics, rich harmonies and melody Rossini builds colour, drama and intensity into the piece – a display of musical joie de vivre that can’t help but have us tapping our feet and humming tunes afterwards. The instrumental Preludio Religioso and the fugal sections offer a rare glimpse of a more serious and academic Rossini.

There is still time to join the choir in singing this beautiful and hugely enjoyable work. The choir is always pleased to greet new members and is known for its fun, friendly and purposeful rehearsals. Phone Fiona Evans (Chair) on 01323 506921 for more details and to ensure you’re welcomed at the door or just come along to a rehearsal. Rehearsals: Wednesday evenings 7.30 -9.30 pm in All Saints’ Church Hall, Grange Road, Eastbourne. Visit www.phoenixchoir-eastbourne.co.uk.