October 2016 – cheers and tears for #APOauferstehung

Our performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony, ‘Resurrection’, was greeted by a standing ovation, cheers and more than a few tears (from the audience and performers alike). 144 performers crammed onto the extended stage of The Great Hall at the University of Reading, with the audience of over 300 captivated by the emotional range of the music, from the anguish of the first movement to the incredible sound of the conclusion, as captured in this video (made with only rudimentary equipment and only partially representing the floor-shaking, roof-raising sound on the night). Soloists Harriet Kirk and Fiona Harrison delighted us with their singing, as did our friends from Tamesis Chamber Choir, who joined forces with our own singers under the guidance of Louise Rapple Moore. APO’s 50th concert will live long in the memory!

October 2016 – APO gears up for #APOauferstehung on Saturday 15th October

We’ll round off our contribution to the Reading 2016 Year of Culture by teaming up with one of the town’s best choirs, Tamesis Chamber Choir. We’ll perform Mahler’s epic Symphony No.2, ‘Auferstehung’ or ‘Resurrection’, on Saturday 15th October, 7.30pm, at The Great Hall, University of Reading, London Road Campus.

APO started the Reading 2016 Year of Culture by collaborating with jelly on the #APOpictures project in January, explored the theme of friendship with its #APOfriends concert in May, before making its debut at the Reading Fringe Festival in July with #mozartunwrapped.

“Those were big projects, but #APOauferstehung is on a different scale altogether”, says APO’s Music Director, Andrew Taylor. “The ‘auferstehung’ calls for an enormous ensemble; we’ll have over 100 players in the orchestra and nearly 50 in the choir, with our singers joining forces with Louise Rapple Moore’s fabulous Tamesis Chamber Choir. Mahler uses these forces to create a world of emotions, from hushed tranquility, through pain and anger to one of the most exciting and uplifting choral finales of any piece. The sound and the experience will be quite incredible.”

The piece also calls for two soloists. One of these, local mezzo-soprano Harriet Kirk, came to the attention of APO through a Twitter conversation about the Reading 2016 Year of Culture with BBC Radio Berkshire: “Andrew spotted the conversation and got in touch, seeing that I was a professional singer. After he heard me sing he asked whether I’d like to take on the beautiful mezzo solos in the Mahler and I jumped at the opportunity. It’s another great example of how the Reading 2016 Year of Culture has brought together artists in the Reading area.”

Here’s some (poor sound quality) footage from rehearsals, from the conductor’s perspective!


August 2016 – Pictures at Our Exhibition goes to Cambridge University and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – July-August 2016

Helen Julia Minors presenting at ISME 2016, RCS, Glasgow
Helen Julia Minors presenting at ISME 2016, RCS, Glasgow

Following the commission, first performance and recording of Pictures at Our Exhibition, APO’s latest project has expanded, with presentations and panels featuring #APOpictures at events held at Cambridge University and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in July-August 2016.

Members of the orchestra are involved in continuing this educational project by taking the work into schools, by uploading educational resources onto websites and in one case, by using the work as an example of good practice within advocacy research projects within an academic context.

This summer, APO trumpeter, and by day Head of Department of Music at Kingston University, Dr. Helen Julia Minors, integrated APO’s Pictures at Our Exhibition into two recent presentations. For more details, visit the Pictures at Our Exhibition website –

August 2016 – APO commissions Max Charles Davies for January 2017 concert

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve commissioned former APO Young Composers Award winner Max Charles Davies to write a new work for our January 2017 concert. We gave the world premiere of Max’s concerto for orchestra, ‘The Mysterious Kiss’, in January 2010 – a piece rapturously received by orchestra and audience alike. In January 2012, Max supplied the finale for our ‘Sumer is icumen in’ variations with, ‘A very British summer prayer’, which brought together all the elements of the piece in a beautifully light-hearted way.

The new work will be presented alongside another new work by Max, ‘Tiny Symphony’. Max describes this piece as, ‘…a little musical portrait of my two-year-old son, Sebastian. But, it does also contain all the elements of a late-classical-period symphony in miniature: a sonata form first movement, a scherzo and trio, a slow movement, and a sonata-rondo finale. So it is quite literally a Tiny Symphony, about a tiny person, and because of its bite-sized proportions, gives a little flavour of what (at least this composer’s) contemporary classical music is all about, without being too long or intimidating.’ We can’t wait to perform it.

Max’s work replaces, at least temporarily, the #APOdances project and Sibelius’s Valse Triste, but fear not as they are now firmly penned in for January 2018 – and in an even more spectacular way – watch this space! Nicola Loten will still join us to perform Nielsen’s Flute Concerto, and the programme will still conclude with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.1 ‘Winter Daydreams’.

July 2016 – APO soloists cut it at the Fringe!

In the beautiful surroundings of the 900-year old St. Laurence Church, APO made its debut at the Reading Fringe Festival on Saturday 23rd July. In an event titled ‘Mozart Unwrapped’, a performance of Mozart’s Serenade in B flat, the ‘Gran Partita’, was preceded by an extended introduction from conductor Andrew Taylor, complete with musical examples from the band.

Our #mozartunwrapped audience reclines in advance of the performance

In a relaxed atmosphere, with the players presenting the introduction in casual clothing and audience reclining on comfortable sofas, we went ‘under the bonnet’ to explore what makes Mozart’s writing so original and memorable – a task which even involved showing the link between Mozart and Oasis!

We really enjoyed our Reading Fringe experience and send our thanks to the all-volunteer Reading Fringe team, especially the volunteers who helped run the event on the night. We hope we can do similar ‘unwrapped’ events in future years.

July 2016 – Young musicians enchant audience at RBCS as APO bids farewell to Honorary Patron

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Trombonist Marcus Fifield wows the audience with trombone acrobatics

We were delighted to offer the opportunity for four talented pupils of Reading Blue Coat School to perform concertos on Sunday 3rd July. The pupils, Emily Reeve, David Fifield, Marcus Corbin and Angus Trott, were accompanied by RBCS Director of Music Jonathan Bowler (continuo), teachers Elizabeth Burrowes and Dominic Oldfield, and APO’s Music Director Andrew Taylor. The performances were part of a matinee concert which also featured the continuation of Edward Reeve’s Beethoven piano concerto cycle with APO – to the delight of his legion of fans in the audience.

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APO Music Director Andrew Taylor with APO Honorary Patron Michael Windsor

We ended the afternoon with ‘The Elephant’ from Saint-Saëns’ ‘Carnival of the Animals’, arranged for full orchestra by Andrew Taylor in honour of APO Honorary Patron and outgoing Headmaster of RBCS, Michael Windsor (who is a fine double bassist). Andrew thanked Mike for his unstinting support of APO during his time at RBCS. We wish him well as he becomes Headmaster of Abingdon School and look forward to seeing him at future concerts.