Because absolutely no one demanded it: The PDtP Review of 2015

It’s that time when suddenly everyone’s blogging/tweeting/facebooking their highlights of the past year.

PDtP is of course very happy to jump on this irritating bandwagon, given that we’ve been annoying you throughout the year anyway.


We kicked off the year with PDtP 5: Back with a Vengeance. It was a bit of a nerve-wracking session in some ways as I had no idea if there would be any ongoing interest in the project after the initial buzz had died down.

Happily, you proved my fears to be unfounded as we had a great show of numbers, so much so that we were able to include our very first double choir motet, Gallus’ Duo Seraphim, as well as Lobo’s extraordinary Ave Regina coelorum, his tribute to Guerrero’s equally wondrous Ave Virgo sanctissima, which we had previously sung in a 2014 session.

By the way, the poster for the January & February sessions introduced our now legendary logo of the van Eycks’ angels having a cheeky couple of pints while accompanying the glorious scene of the Lam Gods.

PDtP 5 & 6


Our second session of the year was PDtP 6: Because You Can’t Keep a Good Singing & Drinking Event Down (catchy, eh?). We pulled off the tricky task of getting a bunch of half-cut blokes to sing the plainchant of Taverner’s Dum transisset Sabbatum I in perfect unison, and we dived into the 7 part lusciousness of Vinders’ O Mors inevitablis. All of the above high-fallutin’ness was nicely counterbalanced by the absurd (and very un-PC) Contrapunto bestiale a la mente by Banchieri.


PDtP 7: This Time It’s on a Wednesday brought a slight change to our tried and tested format (can you guess what it was?). As such, we welcomed many new faces who hadn’t previously been able to attend a Monday session owing to other singing commitments; this in turn planted a seed that would eventually flower in November.

(The attendance of this particular singer would also lead to a fantastic moment for us in December:)

Musical highlights were Crecquillon’s Vidit Jacob Scalam and 2 madrigals by Maddalena Casulana, whose inclusion had been inspired by the recent discussions surrounding female composers around International Women’s Day; we hope to have more of her chromatic marvels in future sessions.

March also introduced the Polyphony Down the Pub website, which was nice.

PDtP 7 poster

Oh, and the poster once again showed what could be achieved with Microsoft Word and very little graphic design ability.


The cheekily named PDtP 8: You Won’t Find Knacks Finer brought us the first of our themed nights, being a celebration of the English Renaissance.


As well as the famous Dowland song alluded to in the title, we sang his lovely Say Love if Ever Thou Didst Find, Morley’s It Was a Lover & His Lass plus what was possibly the very first setting of Full Fathom Five for Shakespeare’s own production of The Tempest by his contemporary Robert Johnson.



PDtP 9: We’ll Stop Counting When We Get to Triple Figures (we probably won’t, though) was made up of some of the most interesting bits and bobs that we had sung in the previous 8 sessions. Highlights were the Haßler Dixit Maria (a perennial favourite: #dothehassler) and the Victoria Ave Maria a 4.


PDtP 10’s in the Mood for Love was a celebration of all things amorous, from the lofty longings of madrigals and chansons such as Pipelare’s hypnotic Vray dieu d’amours down to the filthy baseness of Lassus’ Matona mia cara. Somewhere in between these, we enjoyed a selection of sacred motets based on the beguiling verses of the Song of Songs, including L’Héritier‘s Nigra sum.

PDtP 10 poster

The poster was put together by a graphic designer friend using an actual graphic design programme; no one complained.


PDtP 11 poster

PDtP 11: Summer Sizzler saw the return of the inept Word-based poster (hurrah!). A favourite on the night was Mouton’s Ave Maria, with its canon in inversion hidden in the texture.

This was our last session before a well-earned summer break.


PDtP 12 poster

As its name suggested, PDtP 12: PDtP Redux stormed back onto the early music in a pub scene in triumph.

The poster embraced photo-realism for the first time, while the session itself introduced Fevin’s Sancta Trinitas, an absolute belter, and O Sacrum Convivium, an early motet by Uncle Gabrieli (Andrea).


We enjoyed a very special session with PDtP’s First Birthday Bash. Not only was it a review of the best bits of the previous 12 months, we also enjoyed the largest attendance that we had seen since our first session. Highlights were Bennet’s Weep O Mine Eyes & another bash-through of Gallus’ epic Duo Seraphim.

PDtP Birthday poster

Perhaps not reaching quite the same heights of musical excellence was this questionable attempt at Happy Birthday a la Bach, though kudos to the singers who gamely held their noses and sang it through!

As part of the birthday celebrations and following on from the success of the session, we announced Counterpint, a spin-off night intended to appeal to all those unable to make PDtP on Monday, which would launch in:


Counterpint I poster

As well as the inaugural Counterpint (which was a great success not least because of our excellent hosts The Canbury Arms in Kingston), we enjoyed the fruits of El Siglo de Oro in PDtP 14: We’re Off to Sunny Spain! (And Portugal! And Mexico!). 

PDtP Nov

Miraculously, we did more than a bit of justice to Victoria’s Alma Redemptoris a 8, a masterpiece that embraces both marvellous grandeur and gorgeous delicacy. The Stabat Mater by Spanish-Mexican master Padilla also proved to be a winner.


Polyphony Down the Pub Xmas 2015 full

We finished off the year somewhat spectacularly. First up, we had The PDtP Christmas Special: Have Yourself a Merry Little Polyphony Down the Pub Christmas (again, just trips off the tongue), another 70-hander in which we enjoyed masterworks by Praetorius (Michael & Hieronymus) and an almost correct rendition of Bach’s Vom Himmel Hoch. 

Secondly, we nabbed a singing spot in Trafalgar Square, during which we entertained a crowd of tourists and locals with our Christmas motets and traditional carols, raising a wodge of cash for charity.

Finally, thanks to the programme’s presenter coming along way back in March, we were profiled on the Christmas edition of BBC Radio 3’s The Choir, which was of course a great privilege.

So there we have it – a year’s worth of singing, drinking, merry-making and conviviality.

I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have and I hope even more that we’ll be seeing you at PDtP and Counterpint in 2016.

In the meantime, thanks again to you all and Happy New Year!




Not one but two opportunities for January boozin’-‘n’-singin’!

Finally able to confirm not just the next PDtP but also the next Counterpint too, which is all just too exciting for a post-Christmas Sunday afternoon.

PDtP will be on Monday January 18th in the usual place; sign up here.

Our second Counterpint session takes place a few days before, on Wednesday January 13th and I am very pleased to tell you that it takes place in the famous Punch Tavern on Fleet Street.

Please note, though, that we may have to limit the numbers for this session as the Punch’s backroom is considerably smaller than we are used to.

Therefore, anyone coming along will need to pre-register here. We are unlikely to be able to accommodate drop-ins on the night except perhaps later on in the evening but I’ll be able to confirm this nearer the time.

Don’t forget to listen to The Choir on Radio 3 this afternoon at 4pm; our Meet My Choir segment will be on about 30 mins in.



FM 90.2 MHz – 90.6 MHz, Sunday December 27th 2015, 4pm

The above info is all you need to tune in and hear London’s Favourite Night of Renaissance Motets & Booze!™ over the airwaves!

You may remember that some months ago we recorded some clips of our singing, plus some of your thoughts on PDtP, all in the hope that they might be of interest to the makers of everyone’s favourite BBC Radio 3 programme The Choir, specifically for the always lovely Meet My Choir segment.

It gives me great pleasure (and to be honest, just a little bit of pride) to let you know that they have chosen our little singing event for the Christmas edition of the programme.

Just in case you can’t listen in to the whole programme, our 3 minutes of fame will be on around 4.30pm; alternatively, the clip will be live via this page once the broadcast is over. (Thanks to Michelle for providing a pic that manages to sum up brilliantly everything about us!)*

I haven’t heard the segment myself so I have no idea whose interviews they have decided to use (you’ll be relieved to learn I wasn’t allowed to speak) but many thanks to you all who shared your thoughts at the time.

Also, in keeping with our rough-and-ready-backroom-of-a-pub approach to music-making, the clips were recorded on a phone, so it’s fair to say that the sound quality won’t be gold standard.

However, I am sure that the excerpts used will be a great showcase for what we manage to achieve each session!

Thanks again for all your efforts, not just in the recordings but throughout the year.

New dates will be published early next week so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all and your loved ones a very Happy Christmas and I look forward to seeing you all again in 2016.



*I also love the fact that the pic has allowed us to sneak some filthy madrigal lyrics onto the Radio 3 website…

Tremendous Christmas singalongs

Thanks to all who took part in last week’s PDtP Christmas Special, which was pretty special indeed.

Once again, we welcomed between 60 and 70 people, so it was just as well that we had a couple of double-choir numbers on the setlist, including Victoria’s fantastic Alma Redemptoris Mater a 8, surely destined to become a regular favourite.

Which is not to say that we didn’t experience moments of pure ludicrousness, as plates of nachos and burgers were being distributed to the sound of the most glorious music.

Other favourites for me were the H Praetorius Joseph Lieber, Joseph Mein and the rather more understated but still quite singable Stadlmayr Conditor Alme Siderum – it’s not often you get to sing plainchant verses in a pub.

All in all, another great night of singing, which is also how I’d describe our more public outing in Trafalgar Square last Friday.

Thanks again to all of you who took part; you raised £225 for BBC Children in Need, which is not too bad a result!

While it was great to revisit the PDtP setlist, there’s no doubt that it was the regular carols that went down extremely well with the crowds, so we’ll definitely include more of them in next year’s session.

That’s it for pub singing this year but look out for the new dates for both PDtP and Counterpint, which will be published very shortly – and we’ll also be posting a very special announcement before Christmas, so keep an eye out.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the wonderful sketches of last Monday’s session from resident PDtP artist Sue Harding.




That was my reaction when Eventbrite notified me that there are no pre-registration places left for tonight’s PDtP.

This means that we are going to be really quite busy so please be patient and bear in mind that it might be a bit of a tight squeeze.

That said, we should be in for a wonderful singalong so don’t forget your music (don’t leave it till you get to the pub as the wifi is fickle) and remember too that we are collecting for the Royal Voluntary Service; suggested minimum donation of £5 so give – and sing – till it hurts.




Give some moolah (and/or your time) for a couple of good causes

I’ve been contacted by the Royal Voluntary Service, highlighting their current Sing Your Heart Out initiative, in which they are encouraging choirs around the country to donate the proceeds from Christmas concerts to support their efforts in reaching out to lonely and vulnerable elderly people.

Although we don’t have an entry fee to donate, I have asked them to send me some collecting tins to rattle at the PDtP Christmas Special as I have no doubt that all you PDtP fans are as generous as you are enthusiastic!

I’d like to suggest a £5 donation for anyone coming on the night but please give whatever amount you can, whether it’s less or more.

(Just a reminder that the sheet music is now ready for download; see this post for highlights and links.)

While we are on the subject of supporting good causes, PDtP regular Celia is looking for tenors & basses to sing carols at Victoria Station on Tuesday December 15th, 5.30 – c.7.30pm, to collect money on behalf of the Family Holiday Association. If you are able to help out, please contact me via the comments box at the bottom of this page and I’ll e-mail you with the details.

Many thanks and look forward to seeing you all on the 14th.



Christmas has come early!

By which I mean that there is a big, bulging digital sack of contrapuntal goodies already waiting for you all via this page.

There’s a good mix of English, Spanish, Italian & German seasonal wonders and I’ve chucked in 1 or 2 double-choir numbers (including the wonderful Victoria Alma Redemptoris Mater a 8 from last month’s PDtP). If you have already signed up via Eventbrite, I may well drop you an e-mail assigning you to Choir 1 or 2 to save time on the night!

The Bach chorales are back in force and I have even tried to link 2 of them (‘Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ’ & ‘Wachet Auf’) to the Master’s Renaissance Lutheran forebears.

With apologies to purists, I’ve also re-worked one of the Christmas Oratorio chorales to partner with his Vom Himmel Hoch stile antico motet from the first version of his Magnificat, though we may well stick them in the post-10pm slot; let’s play it by ear on the night.

Finally, if you have signed up for the Trafalgar Square motets and carols on December 18th and haven’t yet had a confirmation e-mail from me, give me a reminder prod! (I’ll be e-mailing all of you separately with notes etc.)

Have a great weekend and enjoy looking through the set-list.