Organist Simon Mace practises on the Alexandre harmonium on
Thursday ahead of next week's City of Dunedin Choir concert
at Knox Church. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
"Is this sacred music which I have written or music of
the devil?" Italian composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini mused
after writing Petite Messe Solennelle
Dunedin organist Simon Mace would certainly argue the latter
The University of Otago music student will undertake a
harmonium odyssey during a City of Dunedin Choir concert next
week of Rossini's epic work.
Mr Mace (21) will have to pump the foot pedals of the
Alexandre harmonium about 3000 times during the two-hour
concert - the equivalent of jogging uphill for 3km - while
dressed in an evening suit and bow tie.
"It's certainly going to be challenging. I haven't had much
experience with the harmonium. This will actually be the
first time I've played the harmonium in public, so it will be
a new experience," he said on Thursday.
"There's a lot more horizontal movement on the pedals with
the organ. With the harmonium, you're just pumping the
pedals. You have to produce the wind yourself."
The 149-year-old harmonium was provided by the New Zealand
Organ Manufactory in Oamaru for the concert and was in
"remarkably" good condition, choir music director and
conductor David Burchell said.
"I was pleased to find that it is exactly at concert pitch -
not just close by, as you might have expected with an
instrument of this age," Mr Burchell said.
The soloists for the concert are soprano Emma Fraser, alto
Amanda Cole, bass Julien Van Mellaerts and tenor Matthew
Wilson, while the piano accompanists are John van Buskirk and
The City of Dunedin Choir presents Rossini's Petite Messe
Solennelle at 7.30pm at Knox Church on September 29.