Margaret Sutherland
Margaret Sutherland, 1960. ABC Publicity Photo

Notes on a Musical Scandal

When conductor Benjamin Northey first heard Margaret Sutherland’s Violin Concerto, he was astounded that “an absolute ripper” of such quality wasn’t part of Australian orchestras’ regular repertoire. As Northey prepares to conduct the concerto for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Yvonne Frindleinvestigates why the forward-looking orchestral composition has been so unjustly ignored.

When Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Sophie Rowell goes to work at Hamer Hall, there’s a gold-lettered sign on her dressing room door: Margaret Sutherland Room. At least until the pandemic struck, she saw the name of the “first lady of Australian music” on a regular basis. And yet, she’s...