(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 (remarkably, 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.
(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.
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.
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!