June 2017 – APO shortlisted in two categories for the Reading Cultural Awards!

The #APOpictures composers and jelly artists before the world premiere of ‘Pictures at APO’s Exhibition’.

We’re proud and honoured to be finalists in two categories of this year’s Reading Cultural Awards, for our #APOpictures project and performance, with our collaborators on the project, Jelly and Creative People. And we’re equally delighted that #APOpictures composer Alice Knight is a finalist for the Young Person category, for her contribution to Reading’s musical scene.

Find details of the project at

The awards ceremony is on Thursday 29th June and we can’t wait to be part of this celebration of Reading’s cultural scene!

 May 2017 – APO featured in Making Music Case Study

It’s 15 years since APO was born and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved. The story of our early days and subsequent development is featured in this new Making Music case study.

Now to keep the growth mindset going for the next 15 years!

 April 2017 – APO to show the ‘Route to the River’ with ‘Schumann at the Station’ and two new commissioned works about the River Thames

We are delighted to announce that APO has been selected by Reading Business Improvement District (BID) to be part of the 2017 ARENA programme of Reading town centre arts and cultural events. Running in July and August, ARENA will celebrate the best work of Reading’s arts and cultural organisations through a diverse programme of free outdoor events, taking as their theme for 2017 – Reading’s waterways.

The space on the northern end of Reading station’s ‘transfer deck’, where the event will take place

APO’s contribution, with the help of Network Rail and Great Western Railway, will be a free event called ‘Route to the River – Schumann at the Station’, on Saturday 22nd July, at 1.30pm. The event will take place at the north end of Reading railway station’s ‘transfer deck’, promoting the fact that the River Thames is only two minutes’ walk away. Members of the public will be able to access the station for the event.

The event will also be part of the Reading Fringe Festival, and also nods to the 70th anniversary of Reading’s twinning with Düsseldorf, through the music of Robert Schumann. APO will give its second performance of his Fourth Symphony (in the revised version he completed when living in Düsseldorf) this year, as well as a performance of the Third Symphony. Known as the ‘Rhenish’, after the River Rhine that flows through Reading’s twin town, it fits the river theme perfectly.

The most exciting part of the event will be the first performances of two commissioned works by young composers from the Reading area. Alice Knight, a veteran of APO’s Young Composers Award at the age of 13, and Derri Lewis, who’s currently studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, are writing a piece each which is inspired by the River Thames.

Finally, there’ll be a special opportunity for brave volunteers to take to the podium and ‘CONDUCT US!’, and a special video will be made about the event, promoting the upcoming Reading-on-Thames Festival.

March 2017 – Marking the 70th anniversary of Reading’s twinning with Düsseldorf

To mark the 70th anniversary of the twinning of Reading and Düsseldorf, APO will be putting on two performances of Robert Schumann’s Fourth Symphony in its revised version of 1851, when the composer lived in Düsseldorf. It was not a happy time for Schumann, who attempted to take his life by throwing himself into the Rhine, only to be rescued by fishermen and see out the rest of his days in an asylum. The music takes us into this turbulent and tortured mind palace, but there is contrast with some wonderfully lyrical, tender moments, before the positive energy of the finale.

The first performance was during our concert on Saturday 25th March. APO is named after the founder of Reading Blue Coat School, Richard Aldworth, in recognition of the wonderful support the school has shown throughout the last 15 years. Two of the school’s many talented musicians joined the orchestra as soloists for the evening. Charlie Rothwell poured his heart into the first two movements of the Elgar Cello Concerto, with Alex Turvey providing an impressive conclusion to the first half with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Trombone Concerto. The programme opened with the ominous chords of Finlandia, Sibelius’s portrait of the nationalistic struggle against Imperialist Russia in his native Finland at the turn of the 19th century.

The second performance of Schumann’s Fourth Symphony will be in July, as part of a special event at Reading railway station – more details to follow very shortly!

January 2017 – Taking it to the #APOmax

A record 75 concert virgins were part of an enthusiastic audience for our #APOmax programme. Continuing our proud tradition of promoting the music of young composers, we presented our 16th world premiere in 15 years: Max Charles Davies’ The Way of Things. The piece was well-received, particularly the searingly beautiful opening flute cadenza, that was presented as if an encore to Nielsen’s Flute Concerto by soloist Nicola Loten, only to morph into the new work unannounced.

Max’s delightful Tiny Symphony opened the programme, which concluded with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.1, ‘Winter Daydreams’. Here’s a short video with some mobile phone footage taken from one of our players who was unable to play in this particular concert. Obviously, the sound quality isn’t terrific from a phone camera, but it gives a great view of percussionist Chloe Beaumont playing the anvil (!) at the end of The Way of Things, as well as the exhilarating conclusion of the Tchaikovksy.

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!