Petite Messe Solennelle

Rossini Review

Performance tribute to victims of terror

Isle of Wight County Press
15th November 2015

IT WAS appropriate, after the attacks in Paris, that Orpheus Singers dedicated their performance of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle on Sunday to the memory of the 129 people who lost their lives and 350 who were injured.

An enthusiastic reception was given by the audience at St Catherine’s Church, Ventnor, as testament to the assured performance of Rossini’s score, under the baton of Philip Fryer.

Of particular note were the unaccompanied choral sections, fugal passages and those areas requiring vocal dexterity. There was a lightness of touch, which provided great contrast to the operatic passages.

Securely supported by Michèle Brock, pianoforte, and Douglas Potts, harmonium, the choir were able to deliver great dynamic range and good part singing.

The soloists (Miranda Johnson, Ali St-Denis, Michael Solomon Williams and Martin Johnson) blended well. The richness of their voices suited Rossini’s work and they all sang with sincerity and conviction.

It is unusual for me to be moved to tears but the final Agnus Dei mezzo solo by Ali St-Denis with chorus was particularly poignant in the light of the concert’s dedication.

Good preparation allowed the emotion of the work to come through in performance and enabled the ensemble to pull together, leaving the audience satisfied, while still hoping for more.

I look forward to Orpheus Singers’ next concert with the Sinfonietta of Mozart’s Requiem at All Saints’ Church, Ryde, on December 11.


  • View a video of Orpheus Singers performing Cum Sancto Spiritu from the Petite Messe Solennelle