Melbourne Festival artistic director Brett Sheehy serves up a classical music feast like no other.

You previously directed the Adelaide Festival and Sydney Festival. How does the experience of working on the Melbourne Festival compare?

I would say simply that I have responded to the cultural milieu of each city. I haven’t worried about what type of work audiences here are up for, whether it is darker or difficult work, or more celebratory work. I developed an opinion that great art is great art. I have seen this from years of experience, including sitting in audiences across the world, like San Paulo, Bejing, Paris and more. I’ve always just focussed on excellence and my own response to the proposed work.

How has your approach changed over the years?

I don’t have to approach a festival in Melbourne differently to anywhere else in Australia. I’ve been in the festival scene for 16 years now. For part of that, I was exclusively with the Sydney Theatre Company, so I had a fairly limited knowledge of things such as the classical music canon, contemporary visual art and dance. A part of this personal journey has been a learning curve of, for want of a...

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