PDtP November 21st booking details


Like a never-ending punishment, PDtP returns on November 21st.

50% of places go live at 9am on Saturday November 5th with the remaining becoming available at 5pm on Friday November 11th – so no excuses for missing out.

Once again, I’ll be holding back a few spaces for first-timers so drop me a line via the comments box below if that’s you.

In completely unrelated news, the charity Mind Yourself is holding a fundraising gig next Wednesday, November 2nd. If you want to contribute to a good cause and you like Irish/Celtic music, go ahead and treat yourself to what will be a great night out.

Finally, a reminder that Counterpint venues Travelling Through and the Canbury Arms need your votes in the TimeOut Love London Awards 2016.

These venues give us their spaces for free so if you love Counterpint (and who doesn’t love Counterpint?), then please support them via the above links before voting ends this coming Monday.



You’re kidding: another poll?!?

Bear with me, as this one actually means something.

Voting in Timeout’s 2016 Love London Awards is now under way, allowing Londoners and other interested parties to vote for their favourite local restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and culture spots.

It’s a great way to support your favourite local establishments, especially if they are independent businesses, but I’m asking you to consider two venues in particular: Travelling Through, home of Counterpint in the Cafe, and the Canbury Arms, the hosts of Counterpint at the Canbury.

Both businesses provide us with excellent singing spaces for free and they never fail to extend the warmest of welcomes to us every time.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Counterpint would not be the success it is without them so please vote here for Travelling Through and here for the Canbury Arms. To take part, all you need to do is create a timeout.com account (it takes seconds), through which you’ll receive e-mail updates and discount offers on loads of great London events, so it’s win-win.

(You’ll see that because of its location near the Southbank, Travelling Through is up against some of the biggest arts and culture venues in the country, so please do take the time to vote and see if we can achieve a David vs Goliath-style result!)

Other things that may be of interest:

BREMF 2016

The Brighton Early Music Festival 2016 runs from October 28th till November 13th and the line-up includes a wonderfully diverse range of events, including intriguing programmes by our friends L’Avventura London and the Marian Consort.

City Bach Collective

Our favourite ovpp Bach ensemble are performing Cantata BWV 89 as part of their Bach Vespers series tonight at 6.30pm in St Mary at Hill.

They’ll also be celebrating 40 years of performing Bach’s vocal music with a lunchtime concert on November 11th in the same venue; details of all of their events can be found here.

Even more Bach 

You have two choices for some more excellent Bach next Saturday, October 29th: either the Nonsuch Singers performing the motets in London or Amici Voices giving a consort-style reading of the B Minor Mass in Harpenden. (You may have to flip a coin.)

That’s it for now – details on booking for our next PDtP and Counterpint sessions will follow next week.



#PDtPBirthday: A celebration of polyphony, beer and the sublime results when you combine the two

Monday’s 2nd birthday party was just too good for words but I’m going to give it a go! (As usual I’ll be getting a little help from our resident tweeters.)

Having enjoyed some uncustomarily subtle singing of the warm-up Bach chorales (BWV 245.11 was given a particularly sensitive reading), it was down to business with the truly old stuff, starting with the Morales Regina caeli a 4 and a chromatically crunchy Vox in Rama by Zielenski.

During the break, I was presented with a marvellous birthday surprise – cupcakes baked by PDtP stalwart Dot Fraser! (By the way, if you are not going to Dot’s for all your music needs then you need to correct this. And Dot, you need to start a sideline in baked goods.)

Part 2 of the evening gave us Guerrero‘s Alma redemptoris mater and Gesulado‘s Sancti spiritus, Domine (yikes) before we started larging it with Clemens non Papa‘s 7 part bubble bath of a motet Ego flos campi.

We finished up the section with a bona fide double-choir stunner, Palestrina‘s Laudate Dominum. (Apologies to Choir II for the stern words re: tempo but you know I only ever have your best interests at heart.)

Happily, the relatively simple harmonic structure meant that even after 3 or 4 glasses of wine you couldn’t really go wrong.

The final section of the evening started with perhaps the only duff number of the night, Byrd‘s O sacrum convivium.

While it’s fair to say that many of you voted for it simply because you wanted to see Byrd on the setlist, nonetheless the episode is currently tied with Donald Trump’s selection as Republican presidential candidate for 1st place in the List of Reasons Why Democracy Doesn’t Always Work.

The mood lifted with the glorious tweefest that is Morley‘s I love, alas, I love thee, one of the works that recently convinced me that some madrigals can indeed have a place in a civilised society.

And finally, in terms of real music we finished off with an incredible Victoria O magnum mysterium (I am very glad you voted for that!) and another fine bit of Palestrina, namely his Pueri Hebraeorum.

Once the proper stuff was done and dusted, there was one final piece of singing to round off the main event; the collective look of pain on all your faces really says it all:

(If you’re really lucky, you might get Bach’s recently rediscovered setting of Frosty the Snowman at our Christmas session…)

After the delicious cakes were distributed, we enjoyed a brief ‘after hours’ session in which we revisited some of the evening’s hits.

Even with reduced numbers, we still somehow managed to do full justice to the multi-voice Ego flos campi and Laudate Dominum, and topped it all off with one last O magnum mysterium which ended up being one of the finest pieces of singing I think we’ve ever enjoyed.

My thanks to all 68 of you who came, whether old-timers or newbies, as you made it such a great celebration.

One last thought. 2 years ago, I tweeted this in jest after our very first session:

And yet, look where we are today: PDtP and Counterpint are going stronger than ever, not just in London but in other parts of the UK, and there are other groups of singers in pubs popping up all over the place!

I’m very glad that it is an idea that has taken off and I hope that we’ll all be singing and boozing and laughing for a long time to come yet!*



*As long as it doesn’t involve that Byrd.

Vox Populi, Vox Dei

The people have spoken and we now have our set-list for Monday’s Birthday Bonanza.

I must admit to some surprise at a couple of the selections, but at least Peñalosa didn’t make it through. (Poor Peñalosa; his Ave verum has in fact made it on to tonight’s Counterpint runners-up set-list.)

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to vote; here now are the fruits of your labours:

Byrd: O sacrum convivium

Clemens non Papa: Ego flos campi

Gesualdo: Sancti spritus, Domine*

Guerrero: Alma redemptoris mater

Morales: Regina caeli a 4

Morley: I love alas I love thee

Palestrina: Laudate Dominum a 8

Palestrina: Pueri Hebraeorum

Victoria: O magnum mysterium

Zieleński: Vox in Rama

There’ll be the usual warm-up Bach chorales as well, so all in all it should be a great evening.

If you’ve signed up then you should have received an e-mail with the links to the scores. If you missed out on signing up, there’re still one or two places left at tonight’s Counterpint in the Cafe.



*The Gesualdo was tied with Croce‘s O sacrum convivium so the judges went with the work that’s likely to be more fun to sing under the influence.



Last chance…

…to have your say on what we should be singing at next Monday’s Birthday Bonanza; polls close at 10pm tonight. If you’re booked for the session, you’ll be getting an e-mail with the links to the scores on Friday afternoon.

(A couple of soprano spaces have come up for the night so if you want one of them, drop me a line via the comments box below and I’ll assign them in order of receipt.)

There are still places left at Friday’s Counterpint in the Cafe, in which we’ll be singing some of the works that don’t get picked for Monday – think of it as a warm-up to the main event!




Finally. FINALLY! It’s the last of the PDtP Birthday set-list polls. Part 10

Poll No. 10 of the PDtP 2nd Birthday Bonanza set-list vote. (You can still vote in previous polls by clicking here.)

Have a listen to these 4 classic works that are long-standing favourites with choirs everywhere, then vote on which one of them you’d like to see in the line-up on October 17th. (The poll can be found beneath the 4th video.)

Byrd‘s back, this time with his Ave verum. Perfection in 4 part harmony.

Palestrina‘s Sicut cervus with the added bonus of its second part, Sitivit anima mea; how can you say no?

Victoria‘s unquestionable masterpiece O magnum mysterium.

Tallis (where has he been?!?) and his sublime If ye love me.

Which one will it be? ‘It’s going to be, um, vanilla’, thought the hippos.

(Poll will remain open until 10pm on Wednesday October 12th. Anyone can vote, even if you’re not coming to the session)


The penultimate poll, I promise. Seriously, I’m probably as tired of them as you are. Part 9

Poll No. 9 of the PDtP 2nd Birthday Bonanza set-list vote. (You can still vote in previous polls by clicking here.)

Have a listen to these 4 works that we first sang in our most recent session in September 2016, then vote on which one of them you’d like to see in the line-up on October 17th. (The poll can be found beneath the 4th video.)

Should we call him Gallus or Handl? Who cares, when his Jesu dulcis memoria is as good as this?

But why has it taken so long for Byrd to appear in the polls? Here’s his O sacrum convivium.

Fellow Englishman Tye is also in the running with Laudate nomen domini.

Finally, Verdelot makes a reappearance with his ice-creamtastic madrigal O dolce nocte.

Which one will get through your collective taste barrier? Only time will tell…

(Poll will remain open until 10pm on Wednesday October 12th. Anyone can vote, even if you’re not coming to the session.)