Some personal reflections on the performance of Rossini”s MESSE SOLENNELLE in St. John”s Church, Wynberg on Sunday 15th June 2014


Basking in post-concert euphoria, it seems appropriate to pen some personal response to the performance of this work that was so enthusiastically embraced and received by an almost full house in St. John”s Church on the past Sunday evening.

The solo parts were wonderfully rendered by four youthful singers – Nomsa Mpofu (soprano), Bongiwe Nakani (mezzo-soprano). Willem Bester (tenor), and Martin Mkhize (bass) –  brilliantly accompanied by organist Erik Dippenaar and concert pianist Albert Combrink. Along with these dedicated musicians, our conductor Alexander Fokkkens led the Symphony Choir of Cape Town with throrough sensitivity through the hour and twenty minutes of Rossini”s score in a performance infused with his own dynamic spirituality.

In rehearsal Alexander urged us – regardless of our own faith understandings and preferences – to consciously place ourselves in Rossini”s shoes: to feel as he felt, to experience inwardly what he experienced in spirit as he composed this Messe Solennelle. No easy task, but certainly one worthy of the attempt when performing such a work embodying a composer”s personal spirituality.

Often, on refllection, I find myself overwhelmed by the truth that every individual has a viewpoint experienced by no other; that every individual has spiritual perceptions and understandings that are unique to himself or herself. And as soprano Nomsa Mpofu sang the deeply moving Crucifixus – so gently and sensitively crafted by an inspired Rossini – there came to mind Pontius Pilate questioning Jesus immediately prior to His crucifixion:”What is truth?” And Jesus” response: total silence!

Truth has a profoundly personal  significance. And to share in the understanding of others in the dimension of faith and belief is a remarkable privilege and so easily passed by and missed.

Alexander”s emphasis on letting Rossini be online casino dgfev heard from the heart affected me deeply, and, on this occasion, particularly so in Rossini”s revelation via the music of the Christian affirmation that Jesus was “crucified under Ponius Pillate”. The very purity of  the accompaniment was striking, let alone the beauty of the melody carrying the words – so meaningfully sung by Nomsa.

Rossini himself prefaced the work with a prayer to God:

“Good God – behold this poor little Mass – is it indeed sacred music that I have just wiritten, or merely some damned music? You know well, I was born for comic opera. Little science; a little heart; that is all. So may you be blessed, and grant me Paradise!”

 That Rossini should preface the work with such a personal and childlike prayer to God speaks of his confidence in the nature of a loving and compassionate Father God. It speaks of If your organization is risk averse, the best you can hope to do is watch the evolution of big free file recovery and bring proposals to the table as it emerges. a God whose attention to him is both known and experienced. It tells of a God  of whose humour he is convinced. . And  so he can almost jokingly refer to his Mass as both “poor”” and “little”  – knowing full well that it was neither of those –  but rich and large!

Therefore he allowed himself to  be totally himself in the composing of this work. As a resullt of which I experienced moments of deep poignancy – as in the Crucfixus, already mentioned, and in  the Agnus Dei so beautifully sung by Bongiwe. The moments of ecstatic joy and exuberance in the choir”s glorious outbusts in the Gloria and in the Hosannas of the Sanctus were very special. In fact, from the opening Kyrie, with its pulsating rhythms, a spiriual glow was kindled which pervaded the whole performance, a performance brought to a fittingly dramatic end with Albert Combrink”s final triple fff chord.

In conclusion, I find that  after every choir performance not far from my mind is the intensity of preparation required to bring composers” masterpieces to life. Without our incredibly gifted Margaret Foxcroft at the rehearsal piano the sopranos, tenors, altos and basses would never master their notes. Together with husband Alexander she is the epitome of patience which is a sign of a deep love, not only for the very music itself,  but also for us choir members. And, at the end of the day, as I reflect on all music-making – from composing to performing – I am convinced that creative love is at its very heart.


Fish Hoek

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