May 2016 – #APOfriends provides emotional evening

The orchestra stands to receive a rapturous reception from the audience at our #APOfriends concert

The orchestra stands to receive a rapturous reception from the audience at our #APOfriends concert

An enthusiastic audience enjoyed our #APOfriends concert on 21st May at The Concert Hall in Reading Town Hall. The orchestra took advantage of the hall’s beautiful acoustic to make a rich sound in Elgar’s Enigma Variations. The second half saw conductor Andrew explain the tragic back story of Malcolm Arnold’s Fifth Symphony, before a performance packed full of emotion and drama. The long silences held at the end of the second movement and the finale were indicative of how spellbound the audience were. The concert opened with composer Fumiko Miyachi joining Andrew on the stage to talk about her development as a composer since the commission of her Variation on Purcell/Warlock Fantasia No.2 for strings. You can hear her revised version here.

May 2016 – New ‘Progcast’ series in advance of #APOfriends

APO is always seeking ways of enhancing the concert experience through innovation. In advance of our #APOfriends concert on Saturday 21st May, 7.30pm, The Concert Hall, Reading, we’ve begun publishing a series of extended audio programme notes via podcast – we’re calling them ‘Progcasts’.

The first features an interview with APO Percussionist, Roger Clift, who talks to our Music Director, Andrew Taylor, about the ‘friends who died too you’ portrayed subtly within Malcolm Arnold’s Fifth Symphony, including the inimitable Gerard Hoffnung, famous for many talents, including his brilliant cartoons!

APO Progcasts can either be streamed or downloaded from Soundcloud.

April 2016 – Save the date! APO will perform at Reading Fringe Festival

We’re delighted to announce that wind soloists from APO will be performing at this year’s Reading Fringe Festival. In an event titled, ‘Mozart’s Gran Partita Unwrapped’, an extended introduction will see APO members exploring Mozart’s Serenade for 13 Winds, nicknamed the ‘Gran Partita’, before giving a full performance of this immense 50-minute work.

The performance will be on Saturday 23rd July at 8pm. Venue and other details will be confirmed soon. It’s part of a busy summer for APO, with performances at Reading Town Hall on Saturday 21st May (7.30pm) and at Way Hall, Reading Blue Coat School, on Sunday 3rd July (4pm).

February 2016 – #APOpictures shortlisted for Alt Reading’s Event of the Year award

We’re delighted to have been shortlisted in the Event of the Year category for the Alt Reading awards. Alt Reading is AltReadinga not-for-profit online magazine which aims to show all the best that Reading has to offer. It’s particularly supportive of the arts and is highly regarded in the Reading arts community. It’s wonderful to get recognition for #APOpictures, especially in the company of some fantastic nominees and our categories and others.

January 2016 – Pictures at our Exhibition concert is a great success

An audience well in excess of 400 enjoyed our concert on January 23rd. Geoffrey Silver’s spine-tinglingly emotional performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto drew tears from many audience members (and a few orchestra members, too!), whilst Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at at Exhibition’ rocked the stage and almost took the roof off for a tub-thumping conclusion. The biggest ovation, however, was for our wonderful young composers award winners, whose ‘Pictures at APO’s Exhibition’ were given their world premiere.

That performance was recorded and is now available on our Pictures at Our Exhibition microsite ( We are actively seeking local schools and community organisations who are interested in doing some follow up work with the orchestra on this fantastic project, which was supported by Reading arts organisations jelly and Creative People, as well as by a generous grant from the Reading Cultural Partnership, as part of the Reading 2016 Year of Culture.

January 2016 – Preparations ramp up for ‘Pictures at Our Exhibition’ as part of the Reading 2016 Year of Culture’s ‘Get Fit for Culture’ January

The Reading 2016 Year of Culture is here! One of the first events will see us present our own ‘pictures’ of classical music, on Saturday 23rd January, 7.30pm, at The Concert Hall, Reading Town Hall. Tickets are available here.

For over ten years, through our famous ‘Concert Virgin’ scheme, we’ve offered anyone who has never heard a live orchestra a free ticket to one of our concerts. This fits wonderfully with the aspiration of Reading 2016’s ‘Get Fit for Culture’ theme for January, which encourages people to broaden their cultural horizons and try something new. And we’ve been hard at work on a special project which will make the concert even more accessible.

“The visual spectacle of over 80 musicians playing amazing music in front of your eyes surprises and delights ‘concert virgins'”, explains APO music director, Andrew Taylor. “So, we’ve added an extra visual element through the ‘Pictures at Our Exhibition’ project, which will take the concert experience to another level.”

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Reading’s foremost creative arts organisations, jelly. Five young composers aged 12-21 from Reading and the surrounding area were given a guided tour of the jelly studios by its director, Suzanne Stallard, exploring how each artist works to create pieces in different mediums.

Each of the young composers has, with the help of Reading-based professional composer, Roger May, composed a musical response to a work of their choice by jelly artists Julie Simmonds, Mark O’Neill, Mark Andrew Webber and Jim Attewell. These pieces have been compiled into a new work, ‘Pictures at APO’s Exhibition’, which will be given its world premiere at the concert on the 23rd.

Thanks to a grant from Reading Borough Council, the performance will be recorded and hosted online with an accompanying audio/visual guide, so that the art works can be exhibited as part of jelly’s ‘Open for Art’ exhibition, later in the year, as well as being taken around schools and community organisations.

And, of course, the jelly art works will be exhibited at the concert itself, so that the audience can see what they’re about to hear represented in music. The #APOpictures work was inspired by Mussorgsky’s famous piano piece, ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’, which APO will also be performing in Ravel’s dazzling orchestration. Sibelius’s haunting and dramatic violin concerto is also on the programme, with soloist Geoffrey Silver.

November 2015 – ‘Pictures at APO’s Exhibition’ young composers benefit from Mark-Anthony Turnage’s guidance

Our brilliant Young Composers Award winners, who are busy composing their ‘Pictures at APO’s Exhibition’, benefitted from a fantastic workshop with world-famous British composer, Mark-Anthony Turnage. Mark gave up several hours of his Sunday and went through each of the composers’ pieces to give them guidance on writing for a large orchestra.

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Mark-Anthony Turnage during his workshop with our #APOpictures composers

For full details of our ‘Pictures at APO’s Exhibition’ project, click here. #APOpictures

October 2015 – Audience delight at APO’s presentation of Peer Gynt

Our October concert saw us present a spine-tingling performance of the overture to Humperdinck’s opera, Hansel and Gretel and a dramatic performance of Mahler’s Totenfeier (a prelude to our performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, in October 2016).

But the biggest applause was for our presentation of a selection of Grieg’s incidental music to Peer Gynt, complete with narration written by a member of the orchestra, which even cast the orchestra as trolls (“Render him into lard!”).

Our wonderful soprano soloist, Tania Pratt, tugged on our heartstrings, particularly with the final Cradle Song, during which a small group of singers (from APO’s own ranks and several from Reading’s Tamesis Chamber Choir) interposed the haunting Whitsun Hymn.

As well as Tania, there were several other star performances, including an amazing ‘Hardanger fiddle’ solo from viola player Kat Hatton, some fantastic wind solos (particularly during ‘Morning mood’) and a cameo from Louise Rapple Moore, director of Tamesis, on the organ.

But it was two pupils from Reading Blue Coat School, 12 year olds Ted Aplin and William Peters, who stole the show with their entertaining and engaging performance of the narration. Here they are, with Tania, at the end of the performance, quite rightly looking pleased as punch!

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Next concert

Saturday 21st May 2016 – 7.30pm

  • Miyachi – Variation on a Purcell/Warlock Fantasia (APO commission)
  • Elgar – Enigma Variations
  • Arnold – Symphony No. 5

The Concert Hall, Blagrave Street, Reading

Conductor – Andrew Taylor

Tickets are £12, £10 concessions and YRP, £5 under 16.

Click here for more information and to buy tickets