Choir’s new season launches with Rossini’s powerful mass

Birmingham Bach Choir launch their 2015-2016 concert season with a performance of Rossini’s beautiful Petite Messe Solennelle on Saturday 21 November 2015, at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham.

Described as one of the biggest misnomers in musical history, Rossini’s mass is anything but ‘petite’ (small) and is most certainly not ‘solennelle’ (solemn)!

Born in Italy in 1792, Gioachino Rossini is best known for the operas The Barber of Seville and William Tell. Feted by royalty, he enjoyed great critical and public acclaimed during his lifetime, gaining success across Europe.

Dating from 1863, Petite Messe Solennelle is the last of his Péchés de vieillesse – his ‘sins of old age’ – a series of over 150 piano pieces, songs and small ensemble works he penned in later life for private performance in Paris.

It’s a majestic, diverse, dynamic and often surprising mass, lasting an hour-and-a-half and divided into two parts of seven, and existing in two distinct forms. Birmingham Bach Choir will be performing the original version, composed for soloists, SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) chorus and just two pianos and harmonium, rather than the later orchestral variation.

The concert sees the choir, conducted by Paul Spicer, joined by The Longfordbrown Piano Duo. James Longford (harmonium) and Lindy Tennent-Brown (piano) have been performing together since 2002. With concert appearances across the UK and Europe, they’ve been heralded as one of the top piano duos in the world.

Birmingham Bach Choir’s Chair Sarah Platt said: “Petite Messe Solennelle is the most beautifully tuneful, quasi operatic of masses, and one of Rossini’s great works. It avoids the cloying sentimentality of other masses of this period by simply showing the composer having a good time – and giving everyone performing and listening a good time too.”

Tickets for the concert are priced £15 (£12.50 conc) available by calling 0121 780 3333 or via


Saturday 21 November 2015

Birmingham Bach Choir: Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle

Birmingham Bach Choir
James Longford – harmonium
Lindy Tennent-Brown – piano
Claire Wild – soprano
Wendy Dawn Thompson – mezzo-soprano
Eamonn Mulhall – tenor
James Harrison – baritone
Paul Spicer – conductor

CBSO Centre, Berkley Street, Birmingham B1 2LF
£15 / £12.50 concessions
Tel: 0121 780 3333 / 07901 798442

  • UPDATE: Please note that Claire Wild (sporano) has replaced the previously advertised Catherine May.


As one of the UK’s leading large chamber choirs Birmingham Bach Choir has been contributing to the musical life of the West Midlands since 1919, making it one of the longest established musical groups in the area, and its leading large chamber choir. Although their main focus is the Baroque period (especially JS Bach), they perform music spanning over 300 years including 20th and 21st century works.

“A huge degree of dynamic subtlety… exhilarating… a wonderful evening.”  5-stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing Magnificat at Birmingham Cathedral, March 2015).

The choir’s 2015-2016 season includes Bach’s St John Passion (5 March 2016, Great Malvern Priory, Worcestershire), and A Shakespearean Concert (18 June 2016, CBSO Centre, Birmingham; 2 July 2016, Stratford Arts House, Stratford-upon-Avon) as part of the UK-wide commemoration marking 400 years since the playwright’s death.

Alongside these concerts, the choir will also be performing as part of St Paul’s Church, Birmingham’s festive Nine Lessons And Carols (20 December 2016) and presenting their hugely popular annual Come And Sing! (6 February 2016, Selly Oak Methodist Church, Birmingham).

For more information see:


The Longfordbrown Piano Duo was formed in 2002 when James Longford and Lindy Tennent-Brown met as Junior Fellows at the Royal College of Music in London. They have performed throughout the UK and Europe and are laureates of several major international competitions. The duo has established a reputation for innovative programming and thrilling performances in repertoire for both duet and two pianos.

Highlights of previous seasons include Poulenc Concerto for two pianos at the Wiltshire Music Centre and performances at the opening of New Zealand’s exhibition at the 2011 Venice Biennale. The duo has performed the piano duet version of Ein deutsches Requiem by Brahms more than ten times. Other choral repertoire includes Rossini Petite Messe Solonelle, Orff Carmina Burana and Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms.

For more information, see:

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