The 1960s were a period when pioneering singers followed the lead of instrumentalists to create ensembles devoted to researching and performing the long-forgotten treasure of Western music composed before the time of Bach and Handel, and it was in the middle of that decade that three British musicians and scholars founded Pro Cantione Antiqua. The intent from the beginning was to make the group an ensemble of soloists, in the sense that they all had careers as professional solo singers. This blend of strength and beauty of each singer's tone and the individuality each member brings to his part is responsible for the special quality of the PCA. Its primary era of emphasis is the Renaissance era, the richest outpouring of polyphonic composition in history. Since polyphony is an interplay of truly independent lines, the individuality of the singers on each part enhances the performance and helps guide the listener through the complex part-writing. In addition to its Renaissance repertory, the PCA also sings considerable amounts of Medieval music and, as a number of early music groups have done, developed an interest in recent trends in contemporary music.
The PCA has toured extensively through Europe, the Far East, and Latin America. It has made over 80 CD albums and won several major disc awards.