Delayed reaction


I am only now getting the chance to follow up on last Monday’s PDtP, not because it was so epic that words failed me (though it was and they did) but because I had to hot-foot it to Belgium to attend a performance of NTGent’s stage adaptation of Pasolini’s Accattone, complete with accompanying excerpts from Bach cantatas performed by Collegium Vocale Gent and Philippe Herreweghe.

The pictures below will give you some idea of the oddness of the staging – in a dock warehouse, no less – but the bleeding chunks of Bach (incl. PDtP favourite BWV 56 final chorale) were exquisitely performed.

An Italian film adapted by a Belgian theatre company, performed in German and surtitled in Dutch; this English audience member was mightily confused…
Though there was no confusion surrounding the wonderful singing and playing from the musicians, in spite of the fact that they had to wear blankets owing to the cold.

While in Ghent, it was obligatory to behold the stunning work of art located within St Bavo’s Cathedral, the van Eyck brothers’ Het Lam Gods aka The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb; one of the panels in particular will be familiar to you all:

That’s odd – feels like something’s missing from beneath the lectern…

And it was of course equally de rigeur to sample the other local masterpieces, of which there were many.

Enjoying a trappist beer in a bar that dates back to the 13th century…
…as well as a local beer that comes with its very own ‘wastobbe’ (washtub) clay cup.










However, all of this is a distraction from last week’s real highlight, which was of course Monday’s session of Polyphony Down the Pub. It was just wonderful to have so many voices join us on the night (c.50 in all) and I felt we had a really great balance between the parts.

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Highlights for me were of course the Fevin Sancta Trinitas – it really is a joy-slap of a motet – and rounding off the main section with the final chorale from BWV 78.

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Four Arms, Two Necks, One Wreathing (which sounds like a description of a particularly saucy game of Twister but is in fact a lovely Weelkes 3 part madrigal) was another surprise delight; I am not sure the tempo that you guys insisted upon was absolutely the right one (come on, what’s wrong with slow fa-la-las once in a while?) but it was nice to experiment with democracy. Just that one time.

I hope too that those of you who stayed on post-10pm enjoyed the recaps (the second run-through of the Guerrero Ave Maria seemed to go down well) and that whatever time you left, it was with a song in your heart and a nicely wobbly spring in your step.

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As usual, we were very fortunate to have Sue Harding along to sketch us while we sang – did Sue capture you on the night?



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Our next session on Monday October 26th is going to be a particularly special one, as we will be celebrating our 1st Birthday! We’ll be revisiting the very best works from our first 12 sessions (including a real live double choir motet – OMG!) and so I really hope that many of you will join us – sign up here with no further delay! And tell all your friends too! And any strangers while you are at it!

All the best




Looking good for numbers on Monday…

… so we should be in for a full-throated session.

Don’t forget to grab your sheet music from here and have it printed out/saved to tablet ready for Monday’s session.

If you wanted to look at any of it in advance, then I’d recommend the Fevin, not because it’s my new favourite motet and therefore I’d love it if it sounded utterly amazing (although that would be a bonus), but because it’s a bit of a roller-skate piece: just when you think you’ve got your balance, the wheels go out from under you and you can end up on your backside.

That’s it – have a great weekend and see you Monday.



PDtP 12 sheet music is ready to go!

Download it from here, print if out or save it to tablet and bring it along on the night.

We have a good spread of works this month, mainly sacred, but with a couple of madrigals chucked in too.

I think it’s fair to say that many of them have been prepared without a scholarly attention to detail but hey, if you want a high level of editorial quality then go join the Cardinall’s Musick.

As always, you are very welcome to leave a comment below to let us know which ones you are looking forward to or indeed which ones are filling you with dread.

See you on Monday.



Concert recommendations

While you all no doubt have only one thing on your minds at the moment i.e. the next session of PDtP, I thought it worth pointing out a couple of other up-coming musical happenings that may be of interest.

On September 19th, the Wild Street Ensemble are putting on a ‘come and sing’ event, to include excerpts from some of the great Baroque choral works; details here. (I understand that they are running a 2-for-1 ticket promotion but you have to be quick as it expires today; see here for details.)

I haven’t yet heard these guys but I’m always keen to support young musicians just starting out on their careers so I hope that some of you may be able to get along to sing with them.

Another concert that I’d like to highlight is the debut of the Chineke! Orchestra at the QEH on September 13th, the day before our next PDtP.

Other performing arts, such as theatre, have come some way in addressing the issue of diversity (although frustratingly there’s still a long way to go) but if you are anything like me, you may have often wondered why the orchestras and ensembles that we love to hear and to support appear to have little or no ethnic diversity within their membership.

The Chineke! Foundation, set up by Chi-chi Nwanoku (founder member of the Orchestra of the Age of Englistenment and its Principal Double Bassist), is attempting to address this imbalance.

It’s better to let Chi-chi herself speak about the aims of the foundation (have a look here & also here) but I would like to do my bit by encouraging you all to attend what I have no doubt will be a truly superb concert, not least because it combines a contemporary work (Philip Herbert‘s Elegy) with the music of a largely forgotten composer (Samuel Coleridge-Taylor‘s Ballade for orchestra) and tops it all off with Beethoven’s apotheosis of the dance, Symphony No.7.

Tickets to the concert are going fast so I hope to see some of you there!



Not long now…

…till Polyphony Down the Pub crashes back into our lives on September 14th, like a constantly inebriated but ultimately entertaining friend.

A quick reminder that while it’s a drop-in session, you are still most welcome to nail your colours to the mast of HMS PDtP in advance, just in case it turns out we have enough men to sing Robert Carver’s O Bone Jesu. (You never know…)

Sign up here and don’t forget to invite your singing friends.