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.

‘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

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 23rd January 2016 – 7.30pm

  • Sibelius – Violin Concerto (soloist – Geoffrey Silver)
  • Alice Knight, Maeve McCarthy, Robert Holmes, Tim Johnston, Tom Carr and Roger May – Pictures at APO’s Exhibition (Young Composers Award commissions)
  • Mussorgsky orch. Ravel – Pictures at an Exhibition

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