Saturday, 4 February 2017

polyphony down the pub

On Wednesday 18th January I went to Polyphony Down The Pub for the fourth time, but it seems I've never managed to blog any of my visits. I'm not sure where I first heard about it, but I think I heard about it right at the start. Like LGQ and Morris, it was started by someone who wanted something like this to exist, so started it, in this case Kevin O'Neill. An evening of singing polyphony, not as a regular choir and not rehearsing towards a performance, but just singing a number of pieces (which have been made available in advance) two or three times. It's a great thing. And like LGQ & Morris, led by a lovely conductor. Obviously the secret to finding a choir with a great conductor - one who believes you get the best out of people by encouragement, enjoyment and good humour - is finding a choir set up by the conductor because they wanted a choir like that to exist.

Most people who come along are in choirs, and can sight read. At the start you could just turn up; for quite a while now you have had to reserve a place, although it's free, to limit numbers, a victim of its own success. Ginny from Morris had been before I had, I think; on my second visit Hei Mun came also; and on my third visit Kathryn from LGQ was also there. My fourth visit was the first one I'd had to book for. I hadn't been along for quite a while, because it's usually on Monday evenings, which is Bethan's choir night. The times I had been before were Monday 24 November 2014, Monday 15th December 2014 and Monday 8th June 2015.

The most recent time was the one I found hardest, and enjoyed least, though I still enjoyed it, because, having arrived slightly late, after most people, I didn't manage to position myself beside/in front of one or more confident tenors, which I have been able to do on previous occasions. As long as I have someone confident to copy, I can do fine, and enjoy it, although it is hard work and requires concentration. But, as I said in a tweet on the evening, 'The good thing about #pdtp @PubPolyphony is that when you get hopelessly lost you can just stop and listen to the lovely singing around you'. After my first visit I noted, 'challenging, satisfying. Hoped to lurk at back, but not enough there to do that.'; it went fine, because I was fortuitously positioned.

Given the scores of choirs in London, it's quite surprising to me that there don't seem to be any dedicated to early music - the London Early Music Choir, or similar - with the possible exception of some small ensembles at the 'virtually professional' end of the spectrum. Perhaps it's more niche than I realise.