When you’ve got an outfit as professional and talented as the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, it does not come as a surprise that they can be flexible in programming.

Their soloist for this concert, Brisbane-based violinist, Courtenay Cleary, was in Canberra (she had given a brilliant chamber recital a week earlier) and ready to perform Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35. But she had to return to Brisbane post-haste because of COVID restrictions introduced in Canberra in response to the Brisbane cluster outbreak.

What to do? The orchestra could simply have shortened the concert. But not the CSO. They just filed the Korgold away and pulled out something else – Sibelius’ Symphony No 5 in E-flat major, Op. 82, no less.

Jessica Cottis Jessica Cottis. Photograph © Kaupo Kikkas[/caption]

It is fortuitous that the orchestra’s Artistic Adviser and conductor for this concert, Jessica Cottis, is a Sibelius specialist. But that an orchestra can substitute such a major work and deliver a starry performance into the bargain says a lot. Cottis describes the Sibelius as “uplifting, expansive and joyous”. It certainly was.

Cottis’ conducting style...