The Song Company returns to the authentic practice of partbook-singing around a table to bring you the rich treasures of English Renaissance partbooks, featuring more golden polyphony by Thomas Tallis, Robert Parsons, and William Byrd.

The Song Company invites you to journey back to a dinner party in the late 1580s, somewhere between Oxford and London.  Our journey through space and time is to the home of a certain Robert Dow, who in 1581 (in his late twenties) began to write out all his favourite five-part music into five partbooks – designed for his dinner guests to sing and play from, as they enjoyed his wine and his company.  “Vinum et Musica Laetificant Corda” – “Wine and Music Make Hearts Merry”, as he inscribed at the beginning of each partbook!  We bring this music to your table: turning the table into a concert stage!

Singing from partbooks is very different from the way singers normally perform today: unlike modern sheet music, where you can see everything else that’s going on, a partbook just has one part.  What’s more, there are no barlines, so even keeping in time is a challenge!  But this is the way famous composers such as William Byrd, and their friends such as Robert Dow, actually experienced their own music, so The Song Company is following suit and will perform this music from colourful facsimiles of the five original Dow Partbooks around the table – giving you the option to sing alongside, experience the rehearsal vibe firsthand, and get closer all round to the music!  As well as an English consort song and a drinking round, there is a cornucopia of stunning sacred polyphony, mostly in Latin, by the top names from late 16th-century England: William Byrd, Robert Parsons, Robert White, Thomas Tallis, and a mysterious “Mr Tayler”!