Aldworth Philharmonic prepare to perform in the Shadow of Stalin

ONE of the most popular orchestras in the Thames Valley is preparing to stage its autumn concert, looking at the reign of terror caused by a rogue political leader.

The Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing a wide and varied programme which will conclude with a second-half performance of Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony, completed shortly after the death of Stalin.

The orchestra says that the symphony is widely-accepted to be a musical portrait of the fear and terror of Stalin’s reign.

“The music is incredibly powerful,” adds APO music director, Andrew Taylor.

“‘Shostakovich lived in fear of his life, particularly as Stalin made it clear that he didn’t approve of his music. Although this obviously gives rise to a lot of darkness and tension, there’s also a good deal of tenderness and energetic defiance.”

The symphony is complemented in the first half by Grieg’s famous Piano Concerto, which sees APO welcome back soloist Semra Kurutaç for her fourth concerto appearance with the orchestra.

And, showing its commitment to new music, the programme opens with a specially commissioned piece of music, Derri Lewis’s River Image, originally written for the 2017 Route to the River event at Reading station, which won APO the Performance of the Year category at the 2018 Reading Cultural Awards.

Derri studies composition at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and has created a revised version of the work to take advantage of the extra orchestral forces needed for the Shostakovich.

In addition to the concert performance at 7.30pm on Saturday, October 19, members of the orchestra will gather before the concert, at 6.30pm, for a free pre-concert talk about the music.

The orchestra has a passion for performing some of the greatest music ever created and, as such, want to encourage people to give it go. It runs a Concert Virgins scheme, offering free tickets to anyone who has never been to a classical music concert before.

Seasoned hands can enjoy the music, created by local musicians who get together for the love of performing, for £15, £13 for concessions and £8 for children.

The concert takes place at the Great Hall in the University of Reading’s London Road campus.

For more details, or to book, log on to

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