Chatting to John Painter, cellist, former director of the then Canberra School of Music, and founder, in 1975, of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, I asked, “I guess you must be pretty happy with the way the ACO has turned out?” Without hesitation he was emphatic in his reply, “Yes I am!”

Branford Marsalis with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Photo © Julian Kingma

And well might he be, for no more proof was needed than in this concert; their playing was flawless. The striking things about this performance were the ACO’s absolute precision in terms of playing together and in expression. Not one single player was ahead or behind the rest and not one single player was softer or louder than the rest. The result was a performance of meticulous cohesion in every detail.

On this occasion the orchestra had a special guest artist, the great jazz and classical saxophonist, Branford Marsalis. He collaborated with principal violin, Satu Vänskä, who brilliantly directed the orchestra from her instrument with outstanding energy and flair.

Marsalis, whose trumpeter brother, Wynton, is equally lauded in both the jazz and classical genres, began the concert, playing solo soprano saxophone, with the...

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