Big Berlioz (for a petite price)

At the opposite end of the choral spectrum from the intimate Renaissance a cappella that we sing at PDtP is Berlioz’s gigantic Grande Messe des morts (aka Requiem).*

It’s gloriously over-the-top but has many, many first class moments of music and is well worth hearing when you get the chance, which is not so often, given that it calls for massed voices accompanied by a huge orchestra, including a vastly expanded percussion section (multiple timps, cymbals and tam-tams) and an extra 4 (count ’em, 4) brass ensembles, positioned at separate points around the main orchestra – or sometimes even around the concert hall itself.

Our friends the Goldsmiths Choral Union are performing this titanic work next Monday (November 30th) at the Royal Albert Hall, alongside the Brighton Festival Chorus and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Brian Wright.

For a limited time you can get top and second price tickets at a hugely discounted rate via this Time Out offer – but you’ll have to hurry as it expires at midnight tomorrow (November 27th).

And don’t forget, once you have calmed down from the experience of super-sized French Romanticism, you can join us at our final PDtP of the year on December 14th, which will include lots of seasonal goodies – so sign up here.



*Interestingly, one of the movements of the Requiem is actually a cappella, though you’d perhaps struggle to describe anything sung by hundreds of voices in a huge Victorian concert hall as intimate.






¡Una noche estupenda!

There were almost too many highlights from last night’s PDtP Spanish Special – so let’s start with what didn’t work so well.

The Lobo Ave Regina is a fine, fine piece but its mysteries were perhaps not designed to be revealed in a crowded pub room; so too with Guerrero’s Simle est regnum, although a couple of further run-throughs might have produced better results, if we’d had the time.

The Esquivel on the other hand was just plain dull, though I am sure we will explore some of his better work in future sessions.

OK, now for the good stuff: firstly, both Morales motets, showing his sunny and darker colours, were just great – you guys really took to them straightaway.

The Padilla Stabat Mater was absolutely lovely and will be no doubt become a returning favourite. Victoria’s Doctor Bonus was another little corker; nice that we were absle to sing it just a week before its subject’s feast day.

However, the big moment (with the emphasis on big) came with Victoria’s double choir Alma Redemptoris Mater – simply stunning on both run-throughs. Once again, I was in the sweet spot between both choirs but I hope you all got to experience both the antiphonal effects plus the huge tutti moments in all their glories.

Thanks again to all who came and I hope you had fun.

We have only one more PDtP this year, so sign up to our Christmas Special on December 14th as quick as you like!

In the meantime, over the next couple of days I’ll be posting a few other thoughts on things to look out for, so keep ’em peeled.




Sheet music for PDtP 14 is now ready…

so grab it from the usual place.

No Bach chorales this month, as we are focusing purely on the Iberian Renaissance masters.

Victoria, Guerrero, Morales & Lobo are of course well represented on Team Spain, along with Encina & Esquivel. Meanwhile, Portugal will be fielding Lôbo, Cardoso & Cristo.

For a bit of variety, we’ve also stuck in a motet by Padilla, who was born in Spain but lived and worked for most of his life in Mexico.

I’ve included Victoria’s stunning double-choir Alma Redemptoris Mater, though we’ll need to figure out on the night if we have the numbers to do it justice.

If you are coming, don’t forget to sign up here.





You’d better watch out, PDtP…

…’cos there’s a new game in town and its name is Counterpint!

Tonight was just fantastic, with some truly inspiring moments – from the luscious sound of If Ye Love Me & Sicut cervus through to the austere beauty of the Victoria. (Still can’t believe that most of you weren’t familiar with it – you sang it with real sensitivity & musicality).

Other highlights were a superb rendition of the Crecquillon – it’s a real smasher, isn’t it? – and the ‘after-hours’ 2nd go at the Bennet – just gorgeous.

Thanks to all of you who came, from our PDtP regulars through to all you awfully good Kingston newbies – really hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Thanks too to Charlotte and the team at The Canbury Arms for welcoming us and to Aine at Kingston Arts for inviting us to be part of the Festival of the Voice; it was such a success owing to the publicity efforts and support from both of you.

Tonight was a bit of a punt as I really wasn’t sure if there would be enough interest in our bonkers music-making shenanigans to justify a spin-off night; however, I think it’s now safe to say that Counterpint will be back in 2016, so keep ’em peeled for updates!

In the meantime, do please join us for PDtP November 23rd & December 14th.



Counterpint sheet music now ready…

so grab it from here. (Don’t forget to print it out or save it to tablet.)

A couple of things to note:

  • we have quite a few basses (no surprises there) so I’ve stuck in Josquin’s Allegez Moy and a lovely Crecquillon number to take full advantage (note too that bass-baritones will be singing Tenor in Ne irascaris; tenors, you’ll sing Contratenor);
  • while we have a good number of sopranos lined up, it looks like they will be outnumbered by altos, so it would be great if 2 or 3 altos who are comfortable at the higher end of the range could be prepared to join in with the sopranos. (I’m pretty sure that none of the pieces goes higher than an occasional E, with D mostly being the highest you’ll need to contend with.)

Enjoy looking through them and see you Tuesday!



Countdown to Counterpint

Just a few more days till we head down south west for our first Counterpint session at the Canbury Arms in Kingston.

I’ll be uploading the sheet music Friday lunchtime so if you’re coming along, there’s still time to sign up and help me figure out which pieces are going to work best on the night.

Here’s the link – hoping to see some familiar (soprano) faces on the night!



Did someone say party?

Quick heads-up: the chaps behind the Kingston Festival of the Voice (our artistic hosts for Counterpint I) have kindly extended an invitation to the festival’s launch party tonight to followers of PDtP & Counterpint.

Sadly I can’t make it owing to a bout of man-flu but I hope that some of you might be able to get along; details below.

Also, see here for the list of great events that are taking place within the festival, including lots of good stuff curated by our early music pals in Loki Music.



Kingston Arts Festival of the Voice 2015 Launch Party

Friday November 6th, 7.30pm
Langleys Restaurant & Wine Bar,
158 Ewell Road, Surbiton, KT6 6HE

RSVP: info @

Fancy singing Christmas carols at Trafalgar Square this December?

If you do, see below for more details and how to get involved.

Before we get to that, though, lots of other updates to give you, starting with:

The poster to our first ever Counterpint!

Counterpint I poster

Pretty nifty, yes? That’s because it was knocked up by the lovely folk at The Canbury Arms who are hosting us on the night. If you’re coming, sign up here!

And our next update is:

The poster to PDtP No.14!

PDtP Nov

Another looker, eh? Again, that’s because I wasn’t allowed anywhere near the design process. If you’re coming along, here’s where you need to sign on the dotted line.

What’s that? You want more news? Well, how about this:

December 14th is now confirmed for the PDtP Christmas Special!

I hope many of you will join us for this as it’s one of the highlights of the PDtP year and will include many seasonal favourites, including the wonderful double choir In Dulci Jubilo by Hieronymus Praetorius, which was such a hit last Christmas.

No poster as yet but guess what? That’s right, you can sign up here.

And that leads us to one final, rather exciting update:

Carol (& motet) singing at Trafalgar Square! 

I have somehow managed to blag one of the coveted carol singing spots at Trafalgar Square for the evening of Friday December 18th, 6 – 7pm.

I am hoping that some of you will want to join me at the foot of the iconic Norwegian Christmas Tree and sing traditional carols interspersed with our Christmas PDtP motets, while collecting for BBC Children in Need.

Anyone who wants to be part of this will need to commit to learning the rep over the next 6 weeks and making a rehearsal in the Horse & Stables at 6pm on December 14th (i.e. an hour before PDtP kicks off), as well as being able to make a 5.30 call time on the 18th.

If all of this appeals and is possible, please drop me a line ASAP via this form:

I need to confirm on Sunday, November 8th whether or not we can fill the slot  but please only put your name forward if you are sure you can commit to the above.

I hope, though, that many of you will want to take part; I sang carols at Trafalgar Square some years back and it’s really quite a wonderful experience, especially when it’s a popular timeslot like this.

That’s it for now – looking forward to seeing/hearing from you soon.