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 Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the MKCO?

The Milton Keynes City Orchestra (MKCO) gave its first concert in 1975. In 2000, it celebrated its Silver Jubilee by becoming the Orchestra in Residence ant the city’s newest venue, the Milton Keynes Theatre, Central Milton Keynes. Over the years in between, the MKCO has built a national reputation and a special rapport with its audiences for live performance.

The orchestra’s Principal Conductor, Hilary Davan Wetton frequently introduces works in the friendly and informative style well known to listeners to Classic FM. More recently, Siān Edwards has become Principal Guest Conductor, bringing her particular magic to the music of the great Russian composers.

Members of the orchestra are all drawn from that great pool of talent, the London free-lance players. Many of these players have played with the orchestra for many years, particularly the heads of the various orchestral sections.

The orchestra offers a series of concerts, at roughly monthly intervals over the winter period, at the Milton Keynes Theatre. Season tickets or individual tickets can be purchased for this series.

In addition, the MKCO plays a number of other events during the year. For many years the orchestra has provided orchestral support for choirs, such as the Danesborough Chorus. It also plays individual concerts at many other venues over the course of each year, such as The Stables Theatre, Wavendon. More details of such events can be obtained from the MKCO offices (01908 558311), this web site or our general advertising material.

Where is the Milton Keynes Theatre and how do I get there?

The theatre is at the heart of the Theatre District of Milton Keynes, which is located at the end of Midsummer Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes. It is based in an area that contains many restaurants and bars, many of which are open both before and after concerts. To find out more about the Theatre District, the theatre and the facilities available nearby visit the Mkweb site http://www.mkweb.co.uk/mktheatre/displayarticle.asp?id=321.

What facilities are there in the theatre?

Before the concert and during the intervals, alcoholic and soft drinks, as well as tea and coffee, can be obtained from the bars and ice-creams are available in the auditorium. To ease problems of queuing, orders can be placed for interval drinks before the concert begins. These are then prepared and set out for customers when they arrive.

As you would expect with a modern theatre, there are first class disabled facilities available, as can be seen on the Mkweb site (www.mkweb.co.uk./mktheatre/displayarticle.asp?id=321)

How do I buy tickets?

Go here.

What do I wear?

There’s no particular dress code for the concerts, though most people wear what’s normally considered “smart casual”. However, the choice is yours to wear what you are comfortable in; you are here to enjoy yourself.

What is the timing of concerts?

An hour before each concert there is a pre-concert talk to which you are invited.
  The concerts themselves are normally scheduled to start at 7.30pm, by which time the audience is expected to be in its seats. At 7.30, the doors are shut and late-comers can only enter at a suitable point, normally at the end of the first piece of music.

A warning bell and public address are made from five minutes before the performance commences and similarly during the interval.

Concerts normally have an interval, roughly half way through the programme, which lasts for 20 minutes. 

The concert normally ends at around 10.00pm.

What does a concert consist of?

A typical concert programme consists of three pieces of music; an overture, a concerto and a symphony.

Overtures are short pieces of music, normally light and cheerful. Most are drawn from the orchestral introduction music written for operas and contain glimpses of the melodies and arias used in that piece.

Concertos are pieces written for one or more soloists, accompanied by an orchestra. Typically they are written to demonstrate the skills of the soloist(s), but often contain beautiful melodies. Frequently they have three sections (Movements), the first being fast, the second slow and the third fast.

At this point, the interval is normally taken.

Symphonies are pieces written for the whole orchestra to play. Passages within them may be played by individual soloists, but the main thrust is for the whole orchestra to play together. They often have the same fast, slow, fast structure, but the overall effect is more complete and thrilling than the concerto. 

Before the concert, a programme can be purchased from sales staff. This contains short write-ups of each of the pieces to be played and its composer. At the head of each there is a list of Movements in the piece, normally written in Italian. Each is separated by a colon.

When do we applaud?

There are well established conventions for when applause takes place. In the main, applause is given after each piece and not between movements. Whilst this sometimes takes place, it is generally felt to break the mood that is being generated by the whole piece, so is omitted.

Applause is also given at the start of the concert and after the interval, to greet the Leader of the orchestra (the senior musician, who plays lead violin) and to greet the Conductor. The Leader and the orchestra are also clapped off the stage at the end of the first half and the end of the concert.

Having said all that, applause is in the gift of the listener, being your reward for their efforts. Applause is welcomed by everybody amongst the players and the audience. In the main, this is provided by clapping, although vocal applause and foot-tapping sometimes follow particularly fine performances.

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