Peter Phillips on what makes his choir tick and preparing the for their anniversary Australian tour.

Your Australian tour features many of your ‘Greatest Hits’. With so many to choose from, how did you decide on the program?

Actually, there aren’t many hits on the scale of the Allegri Miserereor Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelliin our repertoire. The Whitacre – which was a commission for our anniversary – chose itself. After that I had to make up interesting, balanced programmes centering on Byrd and Tallis, as you might expect.

You are also singing a rare mass by Hans Leo Hassler. Can you tell us something about him and why you’ve chosen this work?

Hassler came into our work by virtue of being German – there are surprisingly few Renaissance composers of German upbringing. Some years ago we wanted to show where Bach got his love of polyphony from, and had to look quite hard. Schütz – whose wonderful Magnificat, his swansong, we are also singing – was an obvious choice, but the 16th century proved more difficult. Initially I feared that this double choir mass was just another run-of-the-mill chordal exercise in double choir writing, but after a single run-through...