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.






Big Berlioz (for a petite price)

At the opposite end of the choral spectrum from the intimate Renaissance a cappella that we sing at PDtP is Berlioz’s gigantic Grande Messe des morts (aka Requiem).*

It’s gloriously over-the-top but has many, many first class moments of music and is well worth hearing when you get the chance, which is not so often, given that it calls for massed voices accompanied by a huge orchestra, including a vastly expanded percussion section (multiple timps, cymbals and tam-tams) and an extra 4 (count ’em, 4) brass ensembles, positioned at separate points around the main orchestra – or sometimes even around the concert hall itself.

Our friends the Goldsmiths Choral Union are performing this titanic work next Monday (November 30th) at the Royal Albert Hall, alongside the Brighton Festival Chorus and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Brian Wright.

For a limited time you can get top and second price tickets at a hugely discounted rate via this Time Out offer – but you’ll have to hurry as it expires at midnight tomorrow (November 27th).

And don’t forget, once you have calmed down from the experience of super-sized French Romanticism, you can join us at our final PDtP of the year on December 14th, which will include lots of seasonal goodies – so sign up here.



*Interestingly, one of the movements of the Requiem is actually a cappella, though you’d perhaps struggle to describe anything sung by hundreds of voices in a huge Victorian concert hall as intimate.





¡Una noche estupenda!

There were almost too many highlights from last night’s PDtP Spanish Special – so let’s start with what didn’t work so well.

The Lobo Ave Regina is a fine, fine piece but its mysteries were perhaps not designed to be revealed in a crowded pub room; so too with Guerrero’s Simle est regnum, although a couple of further run-throughs might have produced better results, if we’d had the time.

The Esquivel on the other hand was just plain dull, though I am sure we will explore some of his better work in future sessions.

OK, now for the good stuff: firstly, both Morales motets, showing his sunny and darker colours, were just great – you guys really took to them straightaway.

The Padilla Stabat Mater was absolutely lovely and will be no doubt become a returning favourite. Victoria’s Doctor Bonus was another little corker; nice that we were absle to sing it just a week before its subject’s feast day.

However, the big moment (with the emphasis on big) came with Victoria’s double choir Alma Redemptoris Mater – simply stunning on both run-throughs. Once again, I was in the sweet spot between both choirs but I hope you all got to experience both the antiphonal effects plus the huge tutti moments in all their glories.

Thanks again to all who came and I hope you had fun.

We have only one more PDtP this year, so sign up to our Christmas Special on December 14th as quick as you like!

In the meantime, over the next couple of days I’ll be posting a few other thoughts on things to look out for, so keep ’em peeled.




Sheet music for PDtP 14 is now ready…

so grab it from the usual place.

No Bach chorales this month, as we are focusing purely on the Iberian Renaissance masters.

Victoria, Guerrero, Morales & Lobo are of course well represented on Team Spain, along with Encina & Esquivel. Meanwhile, Portugal will be fielding Lôbo, Cardoso & Cristo.

For a bit of variety, we’ve also stuck in a motet by Padilla, who was born in Spain but lived and worked for most of his life in Mexico.

I’ve included Victoria’s stunning double-choir Alma Redemptoris Mater, though we’ll need to figure out on the night if we have the numbers to do it justice.

If you are coming, don’t forget to sign up here.





You’d better watch out, PDtP…

…’cos there’s a new game in town and its name is Counterpint!

Tonight was just fantastic, with some truly inspiring moments – from the luscious sound of If Ye Love Me & Sicut cervus through to the austere beauty of the Victoria. (Still can’t believe that most of you weren’t familiar with it – you sang it with real sensitivity & musicality).

Other highlights were a superb rendition of the Crecquillon – it’s a real smasher, isn’t it? – and the ‘after-hours’ 2nd go at the Bennet – just gorgeous.

Thanks to all of you who came, from our PDtP regulars through to all you awfully good Kingston newbies – really hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Thanks too to Charlotte and the team at The Canbury Arms for welcoming us and to Aine at Kingston Arts for inviting us to be part of the Festival of the Voice; it was such a success owing to the publicity efforts and support from both of you.

Tonight was a bit of a punt as I really wasn’t sure if there would be enough interest in our bonkers music-making shenanigans to justify a spin-off night; however, I think it’s now safe to say that Counterpint will be back in 2016, so keep ’em peeled for updates!

In the meantime, do please join us for PDtP November 23rd & December 14th.



Counterpint sheet music now ready…

so grab it from here. (Don’t forget to print it out or save it to tablet.)

A couple of things to note:

  • we have quite a few basses (no surprises there) so I’ve stuck in Josquin’s Allegez Moy and a lovely Crecquillon number to take full advantage (note too that bass-baritones will be singing Tenor in Ne irascaris; tenors, you’ll sing Contratenor);
  • while we have a good number of sopranos lined up, it looks like they will be outnumbered by altos, so it would be great if 2 or 3 altos who are comfortable at the higher end of the range could be prepared to join in with the sopranos. (I’m pretty sure that none of the pieces goes higher than an occasional E, with D mostly being the highest you’ll need to contend with.)

Enjoy looking through them and see you Tuesday!