Oh, great; it’s the PDtP Review of 2016

(Bad luck if you thought you’d managed to avoid it.)

What a year it’s been for us; here’s how it all went down:


As it does for so many other people, our year started in January. We enjoyed not one but two singing sessions, the first being a Counterpint evening at the Punch Tavern in which we welcomed some new faces who have since become regulars.

This was swiftly followed by PDtP 16: Because Singing & Drinking Are Not Just for Christmas. 


We pulled in around 50 singers (remarkable, given the largely illegible poster) for a great evening of Crecquillon, Mantua and a trip to the Hassler Zone.


February brought us our Italian Special – and a special night it was!


We welcomed more newcomers, both in terms of singers and composers – including (gulp!) Gesualdo.

Other highlights came from Anerio, Croce and of course Palestrina.


Almost without warning, March appeared and with it came our epic Double-Choir Special.


This was by far and away one of my all-time favourite sessions: the 8-part harmoines sounded just glorious.

With works by Victoria, Palestrina, Anerio & Gombert among others, it was a triumph of an evening.

Later in the month, we returned to the Canbury Arms in Kingston for another successful Counterpint.


April saw us back at the Punch Tavern for another brilliant Counterpint.

Then, in a change of venue, our PDtP session took place in the cafe of Travelling Through, a lovely little bookshop in Waterloo.

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(Our theme was a slightly cheeky reaction to all of the Shakespeare 400 concerts and events that were going on at the time.) It’s a much smaller space than the pub, so the experience was far more initmate than usual; nevertheless, we still managed to include Clemens non Papa‘s 7-voice wonder Ego flos campi, among other delights.


It seemed appropriate to dedicate May’s theme to English madrigals, despite my dislike for them, which could be gleaned from the session’s title.


How wrong I was. It turned out to be a wonderful run-through of some lovely works by Morley, Mundy, Pilkington and Wilbye.



In June, we triumphed with some full-bodied singing of a selection of greats, including Verdelot’s Beata es Virgo.

Later in the month, we held our first Counterpint in the Cafe, our new monthly residency at Travelling Through, following the success of the PDtP session we held there in April.


After the shock referendum result at the end of June, our July session was hastily put together as a tribute to the cultural history that we share with our European neighbours.


We sang works by composers representing 13 different European countries (we included Scotland as a nod to the future ambitions of some Scots); some, like Pedersøn, Zielenski and Harant were lesser known, but we’ll definitely be including them in future sessions.

July proved to be a very busy month indeed. A couple of days before the European special, we had held our first non-London session up in Sheffield, which showed that the appetite for this sort of nonsense is not restricted to southerners!

And if that wasn’t enough, we held one last Counterpint session down in Kingston.


Ordinarily I’d be taking a break in August but having heard the Halle and Manchester Chamber Choirs at a Prom, I knew we’d be on to a winner if we held a session up in the North-West – and so we did.

PDtP Summer Tour 2016 Manchester poster final

It was a totally awesome night of singing and I know it won’t be long till we’re back up that way.


With no rest for the wicked, we were back in London for another session and another unsuccessful attempt at a poster.


It probably won’t surprise you to learn that it was a very popular session, following the summer break for the Londoners.

September proved to be as busy a month as July, with another Counterpint in the Cafe session plus another event outside of London, this time in Cardiff.


With October came our 2nd Birthday celebration – and what a celebration it was!


The set-list was made up of works that had debuted in the previous 12 months, as voted for by you – and with only one or two exceptions, they were all winners! (Here’s one of the ones that no one wanted to sing, which is why I made you sing it 3 times:)

A couple of days earlier, we had enjoyed a great Counterpint in the Cafe session, proving that this residency is here to stay!


With the nights now well and truly drawn in, we had just one session in November.


I’m pleased to report that it was another top-notch night of singing.


We finished off the year with another crazy busy month. First up was our now legendary PDtP Christmas Special.


Highlights included Gumpelzhaimer, Dufay and Zielenski, and we raised just under £350 for the Royal Voluntary Service to boot!

Next up was a public performance at the Southbank Centre as part of their Winter Festival.

Our final bit of singing came at a last-minute Counterpint in the Cafe, in which we interpolated traditional carols among the 16th Century masterworks. Here’s a bit of Gumpelzhaimer to give you a flavour of how it went:

(We also raised another £140 for charity on the night.)

Although the singing was done, that wasn’t quite it for the PDtP year. On Christmas Day, we were featured along with some other great choirs on Radio 3’s The Choir, celebrating 100 editions of their Meet My Choir segment.

It was a tremendous honour once again to be featured on their Christmas show (we were the Meet My Choir choir on last year’s festive programme), as well as to stand alongside fantastic groups such as the Mind & Soul Choir.

If you didn’t manage to catch the broadcast then it’s still on iPlayer for another 24 days or you can listen to the Meet My Choir segment here:


So there we have it: a full 12 months’ worth of singing & boozing & jollity. And what does 2017 hold for us?

In our main London sessions, we’ll be looking forward to some more specials, including spotlights on Victoria, the Franco-Flemish masters and the return of the double-choir extravaganza.

We’ll continue with the Counterpint in the Cafe sessions and will be returning to the Canbury Arms.

I also very much hope that we’ll be heading back to Cardiff, Manchester and Sheffield, as well as other UK locations if possible.

Dates and details will be announced ASAP so keep and eye out here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

All in all, it’s going to be another busy year, and as we try to maintain and spread the singing fun, it’s clear that we have to think about ways in which to make it all sustainable – but more on that next week.

In the meantime, I want to thank you all again for your support and participation over the last year and I look forward to singing with you all in 2017 – so have a very Happy New Year and see you soon!




Bass emergency!

Our friends in the Lisson Grove Choir are desperately looking for a bass or two to sing with them at tonight’s carol service and Midnight Mass, following a last-minute cancellation from one of their regulars.

They’ll be singing some really great stuff, including Palestrina‘s double-choir Missa Hodie Christus natus est and Videte miraculum by Tallis, along with some Willaert and Lassus, plus more up-to-date numbers from Poulenc and MacMillan.

(I would be joining them myself but I have no voice following our Christmas Counterpint blow-out on Thursday.)

Rehearsal is at 8.30pm, carols at 10.45pm and mass starts at 11.30pm. They’re a friendly bunch of singers so if you are a confident bass and can help them out then get in touch with them via this link or drop me a line below with your e-mail/mobile details and I’ll pass them on.



Address: Church of Our Lady, 54 Lodge Road, London, NW8 8LA

Compliments of the season to you all

Last night we had a rollicking time at our final singing shindig of 2016, the Counterpint in the Cafe Christmas Special.

It was great to see so many of you willing to give up an evening just before Christmas to squeeze into Travelling Through’s cafe for our seasonal singalong! Just about everything we tried proved to be a hit and I am very glad that we are putting Gumpelzhaimer‘s music back in the spotlight where it belongs!

Other top numbers were the arrangements of In Dulci Jubilo by Paminger, Gesius and Bach (long-time PDtP followers will know that I have a deep and abiding love for this carol), Palestrina‘s utterly charming Alma Redemptoris Mater, the grandiose Omnes de Saba venient by Gallus and the smashing Viderunt omnes by everyone’s favourite new discovery Zieleński.

I was very grateful to you for indulging me in some traditional carols as well – Silent Night and It Came Upon the Midnight Clear were particularly lovely. 

Thanks to all who came and generously donated to the collection for St Mungo’s – we raised an impressive £140  – and of course thanks again to Travelling Through for hosting us.

Before I sign off, I want to let you know that it’s worth tuning into Radio 3’s The Choir at 3.45pm on Christmas Day

They’ll be celebrating 100 editions of the Meet My Choir segment and they have included Polyphony Down the Pub as one of their highlights.

It’s of course a great honour to be included in their Christmas programme for the second year running and it’s a fitting tribute to you all for making this crazy singing club such a success.

By the way, listen out too for the Mind & Soul Choir‘s inspiring story – we’re hoping we can link up with them for a session in the New Year.

That’s it for the moment – I’ll be in touch again next week for the obligatory Review of the Year, plus some thoughts on the question whither PDtP?; in the meantime, have a restful, a peaceful and above all a tuneful Christmas!





One last seasonal singing opportunity

Where does the time go?

It’s been over a week since our PDtP Christmas Special and I haven’t had a chance before now to let you all know just how fun-packed it really was.

I’ll get around to the detail in a moment but I want to let you know first that I’m cramming in one more seasonal singalong, namely a Christmas Counterpint in the Cafe on Thursday December 22nd. 

We’ll be revisiting seasonal contrapuntal crackers as well as some traditional carols, (mainly because I haven’t had the chance to sing any this year) so book yourself a spot before they all disappear.

As for last week’s PDtP session, once again I’ll let those who were there speak for me:

(To be fair, I was very grumpy. But it was all for a good cause!)

And let’s not forget that the next day some of us raised the roof of the Southbank Centre Cafe with a corker of a set.

No wonder it’s taken me so long to recover!

Thanks to all for coming along last week and hope to see a few of you on the 22nd!



PS Look out for an update later in the week with news of a special Christmas Day broadcast…

PDtP Christmas Special 2016

Apologies for the radio silence but I’ve been in a country that wouldn’t allow me to log in to the website – that’s how dangerously subversive singing Renaissance motets in a pub must be!

I’m in less restricted lands at the moment so I’m taking this opportunity to remind you that our PDtP Christmas Special is on Monday.

We’ve managed to free up a couple more spaces so if you wanted to come, book yourself in now, bearing in mind that we’re asking for a suggested charity donation of at least £5 to take part. (If you’ve booked but now cannot come, don’t forget to cancel your booking. If you’ve booked and you’re wondering where the links to the scores are, they’ll be e-mailed to you asap today or tomorrow morning at the latest.)

We’re also giving a public performance at 6.30 on Tuesday evening at the Southbank Centre; details here. If you’re nearby, please come along and support your fellow PDtP enthusiasts.

(There’s still just about time to sign up to take part, if you can meet the criteria – see here for details.)

That’s it – looking forward to seeing some of you on Monday.