The singing’s real pretty up here in Steel City

Anyone who follows the PdtP Twitter account will have noted a certain frisson of anticipation over the past few days as I geared up for our very first non-London session, which took place in Sheffield last night.

After all, while it’s fair to say we’ve proved that there’s a healthy appetite for Renaissance motet pub-singing in London, I had no idea if any singers in Sheffield would also like the idea enough to turn up!

Right up to 6.55pm, it was looking like this:

and then suddenly, from 7pm it looked like this:

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, of course. The city of Sheffield enjoys a multitude of fine singing institutions, may of which were represented by the 35 or so singers who came along, including the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, the Sheffield Oratorio Chorus, the Sheffield Bach Choir, the Escafeld Chorale and the Sheffield Socialist Choir.*

It was also lovely to see people coming from further away, including Wakefield and Manchester – I hope that it was worth the journey for you.

To say that I found it an overwhelmingly marvellous experience would be an understatement and I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to all of you who welcomed me with such warmth and embraced my oddball singing project with such aplomb.

And what a tremendous noise you all made! The opening Bach chorales were spine-tingling in their mightiness, putting me in mind of those fine, full-bodied Karl Richter Bach recordings of yesteryear.

Similarly powerful were the Padilla Stabat mater and Victoria double-choir Ecce nunc benedicite (a PDtP Sheffield exclusive); thanks for your perseverance in not giving up on these tricky numbers, as the final run-throughs were pretty amazing.

However, you also showed remarkable sensitivity and beauty of tone in the Bennet Weep o mine eyes, the Arcadelt Il bianco e dolce cigno and the final stunner of the evening, Byrd‘s Ave verum.

Particular shout-outs to our ‘heldentenors’ who kept their end up despite being only two(!) in number, and to the obliging basses who helped them out in places.

Overall, I am minded to declare the evening a success and so I think I shall have to scratch my head to find a way of doing it again, not least because the ale up these parts is less than 3 quid a pint!

Once again, a huge thank you to all who came and who made it such a great night of singing – PdtP would be nothing without you!

Just a reminder for our London based singers that we have a couple of Counterpints coming up, plus the waiting list for Monday’s PDtP is still open (see home page for links), so I look forward to seeing many of you there.



*Note to any choral leaders: if you are going to make a joke comparing an ‘assertive’ alto section to the Parliamentary Labour Party, first check whether they are members of a socialist choir. (Altos, many thanks for putting me right with such good humour!)


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K O'Neill

I am a classical music enthusiast and a lover of choral music in particular. I run the Polyphony Down the Pub social/singing night, probably the most thrilling singing-Renaissance-motets-in-the-backroom-of-a-pub experience you could ever hope to have.

6 thoughts on “The singing’s real pretty up here in Steel City”

  1. Thank you for coming and leading us; it was marvellous!
    I hope very much that we will have more sessions in future.


  2. I loved everything about this wonderful evening – and thank you for your comments about our singing: I was a bit worried that the lusty singers of Sheffield didn’t seem to register your gentle attempts at “shall we dial it down a bit here?” – being more used to belting out the big choral repertoire in massive concert halls and cathedrals, and drunken local carol sings in pubs, than the subtle intimacies of renaissance music! So thank you very much and please please come again very soon


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