CHORAL Music: Petite Messe Solennelle by Rossini

Sung by The 1885 Singers, based in All Saints, Putney.

This Mass is Romcom-meets-God !! Possibly about as irreverent as the film ‘Life of Brian’ which retold the life of Jesus as a musical. Rossini wrote his last great work  for friends, and said himself he wasn’t sure if it was sacred or sacrilegious. The Pope banned the orchestral version with female voices.

All Saints Church Putney Common photo by London mums magazine

And you can understand: you hear the chorus singing ‘Kirie Eleison’ but the piano  is playing um-cha um-cha like a backing track to a Charlie Chaplin movie. When the trio was singing ‘The Father and the Son’ it SOUNDED like a love triangle; and  the waves of  ‘Amen’ came across more like a group of land girls celebrating the end of the harvest! Extraordinary. With the words doing one thing and the instruments another, was the composer criticising a priesthood who wasn’t practising what it was preaching…?

The 1885 singers are a local Putney choir which is open to everyone. They sang beautifully and powerfully.  One soprano, Helen Bradshaw, a local music teacher, said it was ‘thrilling to sing along side professionals, in a beautiful community’. One of the two pianists, Robert Bridge, said, ‘it’s as close as a piano will ever get to opera’. Written for 2 pianos and a harmonium, ‘the fiendish thing is that sometimes the two pianists have to play exactly the same thing but they can’t hear or see each other!’ The conductor and founder of the choir, Alison Hunka, after wheeling the harmonium out of the church, said to check out The 1885 Singers website for upcoming events:

All Saints, Putney:

  • 10 December – Christmas concert
  • 19 March – Elgar – Music Makers
  • 18 June – Beethoven & Puccini

And at Southwark Cathedral:

  • 4 November – Mendelssohn

A link to their website:


Tickets are £15. Giveaway.

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