St Peter's Church, Shaldon
Bridge Road
TQ14 0DB
United Kingdom
Type: Choral Workshop
Date: Saturday 23 June 2018
Start Time: Registration 10.00am
End Time: Approximately 9.30pm
Performer(s): Choral Workshop directed by Stephen Threlfall
Host Organisation: Shaldon Festival

Ticket Information: Adults £20   Students £5.  Free for children under 17 accompanied by an adult. Your fee includes hire of music and refreshments. You can book online from this website or download the 2018 Choral Workshop brochure for a postal booking. See the Choral Workshop Page of this website for full details.

Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle

Stephen Threlfall: Musical Director

Peter Adcock: Piano
Paul Morgan: Organ

Héloïse West: Soprano
Rebecca Smith: Contralto
Matthew Wilding: Tenor
James Quilligan: Bass


Gioachino Antonio Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle
Rossini was born at Pesaro and moved with his parents to Bologna at the time when Napoleon's troops entered Northern Italy. There Rossini had a musical upbringing and started composing at about the age of 12. By his late teens he was writing seriously for the theatre. He studied at the University of Bologna, becoming an enthusiast for the music of Mozart, who had died little more than two months before Rossini was born. Rossini later referred to Mozart as 'the admiration of my youth, the desperation of my mature years and the consolation of my old age'.

Rossini achieved both fame and fortune early in his career, continuing opera-writing until he was 37 years old. In this period, he held positions as Musical Director of theatres in Naples and later in Paris. However, in 1829, his Last opera William Tell was produced and he retired, having written nearly 40 operas. For the next 25 years, he wrote virtually nothing. Then, after settling in Paris in 1855, he started to compose again, mainly songs and piano pieces, and often parodying contemporary styles. A collection of about 150 pieces date from the last 13 years of his life, many of them humorous or quirky in nature – he called them the "sins of old age".

During this last period, he was in 1863 asked by a friend, Countess Louise Pillet-Will, to write a solemn mass for the consecration of a private chapel. He scored the work for intimate forces – two pianos, harmonium, four soloists and small chorus. The resulting work was first performed in Passy near Paris in March 1864. At the end of the score he rather touchingly wrote:
Good Lord, there it is, finished, this poor little mass. I do not know if this music is sacred or sacrilegious (musique sacrée or sacrée musique). I was born for comic opera as You well know. Little skill, some feeling and that's all. Therefore let me sing Your praises and grant me your paradise. G. Rossini – Passy 1863.
His description "little" has stuck to the work so that it is customarily referred to as the "Petite" Messe Solennelle, in spite of taking over 80 minutes to perform! It contains the full text of the High Mass – hence solennelle in the title – but in addition, Rossini has set O Salutaris Hostia, a text suitable for the feast of Corpus Christi. However, it is not really solemn in any emotional sense. For this was as quirky in its way as any of his other pieces written at this time. Indeed, among his annotations to the autograph, he self-depricatingly described the work as 'the last mortal sin of my old age'.

This was the last of Rossini's major compositions and was immediately received enthusiastically by Meyerbeer and other musical eminences in Paris at that time. Although it was commissioned for small forces, Rossini clearly envisaged performances on a larger scale and he orchestrated it a year or two later. The hand of the opera composer undoubtedly shows in the writing, but does not dominate. Indeed some sections could be taken as Rossini showing his mastery of form with affinities to older styles, for example the strict canon of the unaccompanied Christe eleison, early in the work. This is framed by two Kyrie sections, where the smooth vocal parts are underlain by rhythmic piano writing in quite different style. Occasionally, in such solos as Domine Deus and Quoniam, the theatre takes over, and there are times when the Rossini of 1863 comes stylistically close to Verdi. This perhaps is less to be wondered at than the contrapuntal skill and vitality of the fugal sections (Cum Sancto Spiritu and In Vitam Venturi). The instrumental Preludio Religioso certainly offers a rare glimpse of a more serious and academic Rossini than might be expected by listeners who know only the operas.
Programme notes provided by Edinburgh Royal Choral Union, May 2011 courtesy of Making Music

Stephen Threlfall’s current role as Director of Music at Chetham’s School of Music, the UK’s leading music school, is a happy culmination of many years’ experience in the professional music world.
An alumnus of the Royal Northern College of Music, Stephen’s career took him first to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, where he was sub-principal cellist, before becoming Director of Music at Benenden School. At the same time, his reputation as a conductor and educator was growing rapidly.
As a conductor, Stephen has earned much acclaim for his performances, recordings and broadcasts. He has conducted at many major venues and festivals in the UK and with many international solo artists. Engagements have taken him to the USA, Europe and Scandinavia, with regular visits to the Urals Philharmonic and Bach Orchestras in Yekaterinburg, the Royal Oman Symphony and Amman Symphony Orchestras. Other ensembles include Canzonetta, Leeds Festival, Chester Bach and Manchester Chamber Choirs; the Northern Ballet and Northern Chamber Orchestra, Manchester Camerata and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. He has conducted a number of concert broadcasts for the BBC, Classic FM and Russian national Radio and TV, and his repertoire includes many world premieres, notably High on the Slopes of Terror by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Stephen made his Royal Festival Hall debut in February 2012 in an all Rachmaninov programme.
Stephen combines a natural sense for performance with his creative vision to inspire the artistic direction and programming of concerts, festivals and educational events. He has a passion for working with young people and has enjoyed successful collaborations with many student and youth orchestras both at home and abroad, including the symphony and chamber orchestras at Trinity and the Royal Northern College of Music, Birmingham Conservatoire, Vannersborg Orchestra Sweden, the Texas Music Festival in Houston and the National Children’s Orchestra.

He has created and directed a number of arts and community projects involving an impressive number of guest musicians, artists and specialists. These have included the award-nominated Antarctica (2001) and Brundibár (2002/3) projects; A Child of Our Time (2005) and The Spirit of Norway Festival (2007) which consisted of over 50 events including many educational workshops and performances. In Autumn 2008, the Leonard Bernstein Celebration included chamber and symphonic concerts, and a special concert with the composer’s daughter Nina Bernstein-Simmons.

In Autumn 2012, Stephen directed a 4-day celebration to mark the 150th anniversary of Frederick Delius, which included concerts with the Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra and cellist Raphael Wallfisch, broadcast by Classic FM. A Russian project is planned for Autumn 2017.
In 2013 Stephen devised a major project marking the centenary of Benjamin Britten. This included performances across all areas of Britten’s output with symphony concerts in Manchester, Chester, London, Lichfield and Cheltenham Festivals, and a national tour of Noye’s Fludde with performances at Manchester Cathedral, and Ryedale and Shaldon Festivals.

In July 2015 Stephen conducted two performances of Mahler’s Third Symphony with Mezzo Soprano Sarah Connolly and the Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra in both Manchester and Cheltenham.
Other performances include conducting the Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, two concerts in Melbourne, Australia and return visits to Russia, US, Oman and Ischia.
Future concerts include two works commemorating The Battle of the Somme in World War 1, with live screening of Imperial War Museum archive footage. In August 2017, Stephen will conduct the complete cycle of the Beethoven Piano Concertos with an array of international soloists as part of the Chetham’s International Piano Summer School.

Parking Map for St Peter's Church, Shaldon


St Peter’s Church, Bridge Road, Shaldon, TQ14 0DB


1. Long Stay Public Carpark ½ mile from the church, reached through the village or off the A379 coast road to Torquay, postcode TQ14 0HP – 381 spaces, “pay & display” during the day but free after 6.00pm. Allow 15 minutes for the blue walking route shown.
2. Short Stay Public Carpark, opposite the church, postcode TQ14 0BP – 48 spaces, “pay & display” subject to a short stay 4 hour limit during the day but free after 6.00pm.
3. Extra parking – limited space adjoining the recreation ground reached from Ringmore Road but with easy pedestrian access to the Church along the estuary embankment. If using this area, please park “tidily” to maximise the usable space; this area is only available for parking as a special arrangement for the Festival.


Please telephone Malcolm Watson on 01626 873492 if you need help with letting someone alight at the church and/or need seating space for a wheelchair. In addition, there are a very few parking spaces close to the church which we can reserve for those with mobility difficulties on a first come, first served, basis.