Looser COVID restrictions may mean live music is back in Sydney concert halls but Selby & Friends’ emotionally charged return to the stage and launch of its 2021 season was not without dramas.

With Adelaide Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Natsuko Yoshomito stranded by border closures, pianist Kathryn Selby had to go looking for a late substitute violinist for her Exotic Strudeltour with cellist Julian Smiles. She found one in regular Selby & Friends collaborator Susie Park.

Violinist Susie Park Violinist Susie Park

The concert, built around Schubert’s Piano Trio No 1 in B Flat Minor and early 20th-century miniatures inspired by the Viennese master’s handling of these three diverse instruments – hence the tour’s title – took on additional significance when Selby dedicated the performance to her father, who had died only a few days before. Struggling to hold back tears, she told the audience how he forged her interest in the piano by taking her as a child to Sydney Symphony Orchestra concerts and recitals at the Sydney Town Hall, later moving the family to America so that his daughter could pursue her career.

The first of the three “boutique” piano trios – all...