Pictures at APO’s Exhibition

Recently, a unique opportunity arose through the amazing people at Jelly for Reading’s local artists and young composers to come together to create a piece of music, commissioned by the Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra. Inspired by the concept of Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an exhibition’, each of the four composers would select a piece of visual artwork that would evoke a musical response from them. They were to be mentored through the process of writing the music, even receiving a workshop from world famous composer Sir Mark-Anthony Turnage CBE, before their final pieces were to be performed by the orchestra’s 80 musicians in the beautiful concert hall at Reading town hall.

Julie Simmond's 'On the wing'

Julie Simmond’s ‘On the wing’

The composers had been found through a competition masterminded by the APO and were aged between 12 and 18. One of the orchestra’s own cellists was also invited to contribute a piece, with professional composer Roger May responsible for the short movements that linked them all together. The works of Mark Andrew Webber, Julie Simmonds and Jim Attewell were selected by the competition winners at Jelly’s studios and my light painted series on the Holy Brook was chosen by Roger to represent the movements leading from one composition to another.

During the process, I found it difficult to imagine what the final performance would be like, and when in finally came in January 2016 after nine months of preparation, I have to say I underestimated the scale of the event. Listening to the performance was incredible and I was deeply touched by how much effort had gone into it. The music is now available for you to hear on the pictures at our exhibition website and the event has even been nominated for the ‘Event of the year‘ award by Alt Reading. Make sure you drop in and vote if you can.

Roger May used my work to represent Mussorgsky’s ‘promenades’, a series of short, themed movements, as the performance moves from one piece of work to another, with the winding course of the Holy brook leading the way through the music. I love his musical responses to my work and I will share them with you below, but I do recommend you listen to the work in its entirety on the Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra’s Soundcloud page.


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