The Wokingham Paper

REVIEW: Aldworth present a concert that is out of this world

Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra rehearsals for January 2020 concert at Waingels College, Woodley

Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra
Strauss: Sunrise from Also Sprach Zarathustra, Holst The Planets
Saturday, February 1
The Great Hall, University of Reading

The Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra is not afraid to offer something a little different to other local orchestras. Previous concerts have invited contributions from young composers or encouraged local artists to contribute their works in response to musical images.

Their latest offering, which was performed on Saturday at the University of Reading’s Great Hall, melded high-quality orchestral music with poetry written and performed by local people, while also seeking to make the concert experience accessible to those with additional needs. 

A British Sign Language interpreter was even present to enhance the adventure for many. 

The concept of a ‘relaxed performance’ gave permission for audience members to move around if they needed to and not be afraid to make noise which may otherwise be frowned upon in traditional ‘classical music’ concerts including – shock horror – clapping at the end of movements should they feel so moved. 

Far from descending into chaos, many audience members found their experience enhanced by this freedom of expression.

The fabulous orchestra, under the ever-inspirational direction of Andrew Taylor, continued to play to their usual professional standard.

The presentation of The Planets, the orchestral suite by Gustav Holst, a composer who himself had links to Reading, was complemented by a superbly comprehensive ‘travel guide’ in the programme. 

Many in the audience found this extremely helpful as it introduced each planet in turn and vividly described the vastly contrasting music and what it might represent. Soaring strings, powerful brass, pounding percussion, lively woodwind and the ethereal female voices from Tamesis Chamber Choir under the direction of Louise Rapple Moore. 

All played their part in taking the listener on a voyage of a lifetime across the solar system.

Offering three concerts in one day, each a little over an hour in length, also offered flexibility for audience members and welcomed those who find the usual two-hour concerts a little too long. 

This proved to be a popular concept as all three performances were sold out. 

All credit to the orchestra who united behind this vision and succeeded in repeating their high-energy performances with great aplomb.

Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra concerts never fail to delight as the combination of top-quality musicianship, infectious enthusiasm, camaraderie and fun on display always succeeds in transporting the audience to another plane.

Judith Creighton

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