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Welcome to the new website for the Pocket Score Company. In addition to information about the group and our upcoming performances, this new site gives us the opportunity to provide archives of previous concerts, links to our broader musical activities, as well as to present recordings (both audio and video) of the group in action.

No matter how good the website, though, there’s no substitute for live performance—and we look forward to welcoming you to a Pocket Score gig soon!

CD launch: New Carols and Songs for Chaucer’s Pilgrims

We are delighted to announce the launch of New Carols and Songs for Chaucer’s Pilgrims, the brand-new medieval-inspired CD composed by countertenor David Yardley and performed by some of Australia’s finest choral musicians and soloists, featuring members of the Pocket Score Company.

It has been 600 years since many of the songs known to Geoffrey Chaucer have been heard. Although the music was lost, their words have survived and now, after centuries of reluctant silence, they can sing again.

Songs of ale and love; of saints and of war and of doomsday; carols of Christmas and sweet lullabies. All re-imagined with original music composed by David.

CDs are available now from David’s website.

Singers, young actors lovely mix

The Polyphonic Bard

The Street Theatre. November 30 to December 2.

Reviewer: Janet WilsonThe Canberra Times

“The performance intermingled music with scenes that illustrated love in many forms: playful, despairing, cynical, combative and seductive.

“There was excellent balance between the five singing voices and a nice variation in mood as the ensemble moved from the sweetness of Palestrina’s Vestiva I Colli, a wistful expression of love in springtime, to the outrageous Je Ne Menge Point de Porc, complete with porky grunts, and on to the spiritual O Nata Lux by Tallis. David Yardley’s rollicking rendition of Bryng us Home Good Ale was a temptation to clap and toe-tap along and there were well-controlled changes of rhythm and mood in Thomas Morley’s Farewell Disdainful.”

Read the full review at The Canberra Times.


In Dulci Jubilo

Here’s a blast from the past—the Pocket Score Company rehearsing In Dulci Jubilo in June 2009.

And, in response to several requests, here’s the score. It’s arranged to fit within the PSC vocal range (i.e. Alto, Tenor, Tenor, and Bass), and has four verses as follows:

  1. Traditional arrangement
  2. Harmonised by Michael Praetorius
  3. Harmonised by Dieterich Buxtehude
  4. Harmonised by J.S. Bach

It’s a public domain performing edition, and you’re welcome to use it without a fee. Please add a comment below if you use it!

In Dulci Jubilo (PDF download)

Len Power’s review of The Polyphonic Bard

A lovely review from Len Power of the Canberra Critics Circle of The Polyphonic Bard, which featured PSC regulars Ian Blake, Paul Eldon and David Yardley, and welcomed guest artists Daniel Sanderson and John Virgoe.

“the five men of The Pocket Score Company thrilled with their intricate harmonies and choice of music. Commencing with ‘If Music Be The Food Of Love’ from ‘Twelfth Night’, set to music by Henry Purcell, they followed with works by Thomas Tallis, Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Palestrina, Thomas Morley and others.”

Read the full review on the Canberra Critics Circle website.

Music and Shakespeare in our time

Cathy Bannister from “Stage Whispers” reviews The Polyphonic Bard:

“The Pocket Score Company all-male ensemble is superb, and has particular strengths at the bottom (bass Ian Blake) and top, with countertenor and harpist David Yardley’s beautiful clear voice providing perfect balance to the rich harmonies. We were treated to Purcell (including the favourite If Music Be the Food of Love), Tallis, Palestrina and Monteverdi. Variously using only two, three, four, or all five voices, they easily filled the room with beautiful resonance.”

Read the full review on the “Stage Whispers” site.

Shakespeare gets a soundscape

The Polyphonic Bard reviewed by Joe Woodward in the Canberra City News:

Polyphonic Bard“The vocal effect is truly stunning. The voices blend so well that, in an age of digital enhancement, it was bliss to realise the power of human sound crafted through an ancient art form. Apart from some pre-recording of the final piece, it was live and perfectly balanced.”

Read the full review on the City News website.


Frank McKone’s review of the Polyphonic Bard

Frank McKone of the Canberra Critics Circle on The Polyphonic Bard:

Polyphonic Bard“For the young students of the Canberra Academy of Dramatic Art, the top-quality 5-part singing of the Pocket Score team – David Yardley (countertenor), Paul Eldon (tenor), John Virgoe (tenor), Daniel Sanderson (baritone) and Ian Blake (bass) – provides a model for them to aspire to.  They have a long way to go at this point in their quest, but this public performance is an important step along the way.

“Once upon a time, when I trained young people for tertiary training auditions, requiring a Shakespeare piece, of course, I used to explain how 5- or even 8-part singing took place in the pubs of London in Shakespeare’s day, and how those complexities of rhythm, harmony and stress patterns underlie the poetry of Shakespeare’s words.  These CADA students are lucky enough to learn in practice, from the Pocket Score Company, what I could only explain to my trainees.”

Read the full review on the Canberra Critics Circle website.

Review of ‘Sin and Salvation’

Reviewer: Jennifer GallThe Canberra Times

It’s hard to beat an afternoon with Palestrina, Monteverdi, Lassus and the like, especially when the music is performed by Canberra’s smallest and most technically polished male vocal ensemble, The Pocket Score Company. With each performance the blend of voices, with David Mackay conducting is developing into a confident sound which is at once resonant and clean. Palestrina’s Missa Aeterna Christi Munera formed the heart of the concert and with the opening Kyrie I was reminded of the description of Anne Boleyn walking up the aisle of Westminster abbey on a ‘cloth of heaven blue’ for her coronation. If you could replicate heaven blue silk in music, it would sound like The Pocket Score Company singing Palestrina.

With a blend of sacred and secular songs, the program offered a satisfying variety of material. Contrasting with the heavenly Palestrina,  the more earthly offerings from Adrian Willaert: Un Giorno Mi Prego, Lassus: Baur, was tregst im Sacke?, and Janequin’s Martin menoit son porceau were energetic evocations of the lusty life of the folk in the 15th and 16th centuries. Innuendo and vocal special effects succeeded in conveying the wicked sense of fun within the lyrics.

One of the highlights was the opening song in the second half of the concert, Hec Dies, by an anonymous composer and performed by David Yardley (countertenor) and Ian Blake (bass), singing across the audience. The early music stereophonic effect was deliciously trippy. Monteverdi’s Chi’o ami la mia vita was less tidy than the other numbers, but a compensating treat was David Yardley’s setting of the carol, Wilkin’s Return. The lyrics urge Christ to ‘save merry England and speed it well’, but with such edgy urgency it was easy to imagine a barracks full of (musical) testosterone fuelled soldiers ready to smite off a few heads for the glory of God and country. Juan del Encina’s lovely Romerico came as balm after the robust carol and Palestrina’s Agnus Dei à4 and à5, separated by a beautifully spacious plainchant version, ended the concert peacefully. There was a lovely moment when baritone Daniel Sanderson and tenor Paul Eldon’s voices blended in the five part version perfectly to illustrate exactly why there had to be another voice in the arrangement. But best of all, David Mackay’s very young daughter provided a well timed, perfectly pitched musical comment in between the last two items, proving that the younger generation finds as much joy in early music as the older patrons.

The Pocket Score Company presents Sin and Salvation

The barometer may be falling but come, be warmed by an afternoon with The Pocket Score Company as we present Sin and Salvation, a journey through the mellifluous sounds of Medieval and Renaissance music. At its sweltering core we present Palestrina’s Missa Aeterna Christi Munera, a work of simple, soaring beauty showcasing the composer’s art at its finest.

We also feature a series of earthly delights by Monteverdi, Jannequin, Orlando di Lasso and a questionable song about the appropriate use of an oar and a barge.

Joining us for this concert we are delighted to welcome baritone Daniel Sanderson for a couple of five-part pieces, as well as a starring role on the tambourine as we feature a new composition by our countertenor David Yardley, Nowell, Nowell, taken from his upcoming CD New Carols and Songs for Chaucer’s Pilgrims.