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Grand concert to celebrate St Peter's Italian Church 150th anniversary

A grand concert celebrating Italian song will be performed at 8pm on 9 November, at St Peter’s Italian Church on Clerkenwell Road to mark the 150th anniversary of the Church’s establishment.

The concert is being organised by Artistic Director Antonio Pappano Riccio X of the Armonia Mediterranea. Mr Pappno Riccio X, an experienced conductor, virtuoso pianist, music arranger and organist at the Italian church; is also the younger cousin of Sir Antonio Pappano, the music director of the world famous Royal Opera House.

Antonio Pappano Riccio X

He said: “On November 9th we will be performing various pieces from 20th century Neapolitan song whose golden age can be traced from 1895-1950. We will perform a varied programme. My family roots are from the Campagnia region and Napoli is the capital city. That area and in particular the Amalfi coast is also believed to be the residence of the mythical Sirens from Homer's Odyssey. It’s very rich in music and sound…. The region absorbed the whole of Mediterranean culture from the first settlements of the Phoenicians, northern Africans, and of course later Spanish influences. All this spread to the rest of Italy and then through to the rest of Europe. Even the roots of tango are in Neapolitan music: harmonically, melodically and in attitude.”

The evening performance will also include music by composers Paolo Tosti, CA Bixio, musical interludes by Ennio Morricone, famous and loved Italian songs such as Mamma and Parlami D'amore Mariu. The vocal repertoire will be performed by a rich pool of talent from Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean world. Those in attendance will also enjoy Riccio X conducting the Patrick Noronha orchestra and the concert is non-profit and aims to raise funds to keep the musical life of the church alive.
André Apollis, a Singer and Director of Music for Classical Singers London who works closely with the Armonia; commented: “London will be enjoying the musical warmth of Southern Italy to ward off the chills of the English autumn.” Mr Apollis commended Riccio X’s genius in notating many of the scores from ear for the first time. “It will be great to see Neapolitan music become a part of the Italian Church’s history, a venue where some of the biggest names once performed” he said.

St Peter’s Italian Church

The Italian Church itself was constructed and dedicated to St Peter on April 16th 1863 amidst a climate of hostility to the Catholic faith. The immigration of Italians from the South of Italy and Irish Catholics due to the Great Famine formed a community in Clerkenwell making the area an inevitable site for the Church’s construction. Attempts to construct a church were made as early as 1850 during the violent anti-Catholic disturbances of the Papal Aggression. Construction was marred by politics, money shortages and was a long struggle; however the Church was finally consecrated in 1863 and in that time was the only Church in the UK to be made in the Roman Basilica style.

Despite the Italian character of St Peter’s, it was always known as the Church of all Nations. Confession was given not only in Italian but also English, French, German and Spanish. The Polish community from 1878 would use the Church’s crypt to celebrate Mass in their own language. However music itself is a universal language for all humanity and the Church has always boasted a large orchestra, choir and historical engagement with Italian musicians.

In the 19th century, the Church’s musical performances united Protestants and Catholics who congregated to listen to first class performances of Monteverdi, Rossini and many other composers. The Church frequently entertained internationally renowned soloists, for example in the period after the Second World War Gigli, Siveri and Raimondo gave performances as well as many other singers from La Scala of Milan, the Opera House in Rome and the Teatro San Carlo in Naples.

The concert by the Armonia Mediterranea is a continuation of this tradition as well as a commemoration of the Church’s history and charitable work in prisons and hospitals during the 19th century. The Church of all Nations and indeed all faiths; will give yet another performance celebrating the UK’s multicultural society and its long service to Christian communities in London.

Yuri Sabatini, a tenor for the Armonia said: “I think this concert is of great significance for the Anglo-Italian community in and around London and I am proud to be part of an event of such quality and emotional resonance. These songs bring back so many sweet memories of my auntie and grandparents. They relate to the sacrifices that generation made in Italy, after the war, when these hard working, responsible Italians moved away from their hometowns to find work and better alternatives.”

Mr Sabatini added: “I am very confident this will be a magical event, for everyone involved and I like to think that my Grandmother and my Auntie will listen to me while I will be singing their favourite tunes in concert, smiling from above.”

For more information on St Peter's see:

For details of the concert go to: