Chorus and harmonium in perfect harmony

31 May 2018

Julia Armstrong, Sheffield Telegraph 31 May 2018

Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle (small solemn mass) is neither small nor solemn. ‘It would have been entirely characteristic of this witty composer to tease his audience as he did in this, his final major work,’ writes Paul Henstridge. Lasting about 90 minutes, it is unashamedly operatic in style and full of the most wonderful melodies. It is also a profound and moving statement of his own Christian faith.

The version that the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus will be performing June 9 at 7pm in the City Hall Ballroom uses the accompaniment of a piano and a harmonium, played by Nigel Gyte and Jonathan Scott. Both accomplished musicians, Nigel was for many years the regular accompanist for the Philharmonic Chorus and Jonathan is a renowned pianist and organist.

Jonathan will be playing an original instrument made by the Paris harmonium maker Victor Mustel in 1880. Mustel made the finest instruments in the world and he was an exceptional craftsman producing around a dozen instruments a year which sold for prices in excess of £150,000 in today’s money! He won prizes at all the major world fairs and exhibitions and had showrooms in Paris and London. Only a handful of his instruments are still in existence in their original condition.

This is a rare opportunity to hear one of the best examples of a harmonium in the world today and Jonathan will introduce the instrument with musical examples and an explanation of how all the sounds and mechanical devices work on this amazing instrument. Tickets are available online at, by calling 0114 278 9789 and in person at the Sheffield City Hall box office.

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