APO Record Challenge Weekend and ‘Desert Island Passions’

As an orchestra, we’re still separated from each other, but the sense that we’re all doing something collectively is a powerful motivator so we’ve come up with a challenge that we’re going to take on together. It’s called the APO Record Challenge Weekend and it will take place next weekend on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st March.

Regrettably, it doesn’t mean we’re doing a Roy Castle tribute and attempting to break world records. Instead, with the hope of being able to meet in small groups soon (if the data supports it March 29th will permit six people to play outside, according to Making Music – see below), it’s time to really reacquaint ourselves with our instrumental technique and polish up any skills that may have got rusty during lockdown. And the very best way to do that is to record ourselves playing, even if it’s for our own ears only.
The effort is entirely voluntary, but we hope lots of APO members will take part and give it lots of momentum, so that we all feel supported.

For APO members wanting to take part, here’s how it works:

1. Pick two pieces – one an old favourite and one you haven’t looked at before (perhaps one of Derri’s miniatures). In the week before the challenge, take some time to run the fingers through the notes, get stamina up and (re)familiarise ourselves with the musical material.

2, On Saturday 20th March, take a more detailed, focussed look at the music, working up to a ‘performance’, where you record yourself (most mobile phones have a decent microphone and some guidelines on how to record to a decent quality with very little trouble are available via the ‘next event’ page on the APO website). What you do with this recording is up to you, but there are some options. Each must be done with kindness:

  • Listen to it immediately – or maybe not. You might leave it til the next day to listen to it, for example.
  • Send it to Andrew or Mel (or someone else) to listen to and give constructive feedback.
  • Post it for other APO Players to listen to and give constructive feedback
  • Post it for the world to listen to and give constructive feedback.

3. On Sunday 21st March, act on the kind, constructive feedback that you’ve given yourself or received from others, through some more focussed practice. Then record yourself again. The same options for the previous day apply but, importantly, compare your Saturday recording with your Sunday recording and give yourself credit for the improvement.

On the evening of Saturday 20th, we’ll be holding a free online social event just for APO members, patrons and their friends (please get in touch if you’d like details of how to register). ‘APO’s Desert Island Passions’ is a mixture of Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ and Radio 3’s ‘Private Passions’, where APO members will tell us about music that’s important to them and the reasons why.