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The Orchestra - RASPO

Reading All Steel Percussion Orchestra was formed in 1997 supported by Arts Council England's New Audiences Programme with instruments and tutors provided by Mangrove Steel Band.

Central Reading Youth Provision offered space for a PanYard and CultureMix Arts coordinated the project led by its Artistic Director Mary Genis. This followed a pilot carnival project co-ordinated by African Caribbean Arts Development at Reading Borough Council offering carnival costume making and steel pan music workshops supported by local communities.

RASPO is now well established as Reading's premier steel orchestra and welcomes all age groups. The name - Reading All Steel Percussion Orchestra - commemorates the very first steel band to play in the UK at the 1951 Festival of Britain: TASPO Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra. More...



RASPO achieved its ambition to take part in the UK Panorama Steelband Competition in Hyde Park in 2007. Nine of RASPO's best players joined Mangrove to work with Len Boogsie Sharpe on his arrangement of 'Sharing Licks'. More...
RASPO's director joined Mangrove again for 2009's Panorama to play Andre White's arrangement of 'Magic Drum'. More...

RASPO Steel Orchestra entered Panorama independently for the first time in 2010. The thirty-five piece orchestra of musicians from Reading and the surrounding areas played Bubbles' arrangement of 'Pan on Fire' for seventh place. RASPO celebrated it's ambitious achievement by taking part in 'Band on the Road' for Notting Hill Carnival's Children's Day procession. More...

The following year RASPO worked with New York arranger Iman Pascall and Aberdeen based Pandemic Steel Band to take a forty-seven piece orchestra for their second Panorama competition in Kensal Road. RASPO's higher score won the orchestra sixth place with their rendition of Destra's 'Calling Meh'. More...

During the year of the London Olympics the orchestra performed at the Mayor of London's launch of the Giant Olympic Rings and Showtime touring London boroughs for the 2012 Festival during the Olympic Games. More... The RASPO Ensemble also joined the BBC Proms Family Orchestra for a live performance at the Royal Albert Hall. More...

The orchestra is made up of musicians of all ages, mainly from twelve to mid twenties and beyond who regularly play at festivals and carnivals performing live on ITV and BBC television broadcasts to millions of viewers. RASPO ensembles provide entertainment at weddings, parties and corporate events throughout the year.

CD's
'RASPO Live!' 2009 The Abbey Gateway Reading Berkshire. More...
'RASPO Rhythms' 2012 The Tabernacle Notting Hill London. More...

Awards:
2009 British Association of Steelbands Award for 10 years of performance. More...
2010 Randolph Baptiste Inspirational Award. More...


Pans on Fire

Pans on Fire

RASPO dancers at Womad 2009

Book a RASPO Show

Information on booking RASPO Steel Orchestra for your event More...

Steel pan music tutor training

Professional Development

Read about the impact of steel pan music on founding members and players past and present. More...

Anisha Thomas painting 2009

RASPO Who's Who - Artist Profiles

Read about individual musicians and artists involved with CultureMix and RASPO Steel Orchestra. More...

Zash Brazell and Claire Boutsiavaras with RASPO Steel Orchestra at WOMAD Reading 2003.

RASPO - Players Gallery

Click here to see photos of RASPO players and musicians through the years. From the early founding members in 1999 to today's newcomers RASPO welcomes all ages to the steel pan family. More...

Join RASPO

RASPO London 2012 Festival

RASPO welcomes all abilities, all colours, all creeds, all backgrounds and all ages.

Join RASPO, learn music, play pan, perform, travel, make new friends, have fun and grow in confidence!

Go to our workshop page for dates and times.
Click here to register your interest.

RASPO BAS Award

Mary Genis with Mangrove's Matthew Phillip BAS 2009

RASPO director Mary Genis and supporter Matthew Phillip from Mangrove celebrate RASPO's British Association of Steelbands (BAS) award in 2009 for ten years of performance.

The BAS Annual Awards and Dinner Dance takes place each December at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury.