December 2016 – all change at the AGM

During the lunch break for the initial rehearsal of our #APOmax programme, on Sunday 11th December, APO held its annual general meeting. As usual there were reports from the Music Director, Chairman and Treasurer, reflecting on a spectacular year of music-making and development from the orchestra, from our brilliant #APOpictures project, to our debut at the Reading Fringe Festival, through to the incredible experience of 144 performers raising the roof in Mahler’s Second Symphony.

There was also a changing of the guard, with several committee members stepping down after years of service. Becky Stewardson, Anna Nash and Anastasia Arapi stood down, with Andrew Le Breuilly resigning as Chairman after 3 very successful years. Andrew was elected Treasurer, where he will work with new Fundraising Officer Katie Hepworth on bringing the exciting fundraising strategy he presented at the meeting to life. Emily Bushby takes over as Chair, leading other new members of the committee Ana Olarou (Publicity) and Michael Rowley (Outreach). Existing committee members Laura Baker and former Treasurer Nicola Lawson are taking on the roles of  Secretary and Generalist, respectively.

Several other non-committee roles were also announced, and as ever the discussion at the AGM was stimulating and passionate, showing that APO members are energised and excited about what’s to come in the next year.

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’.