Llewellyn Two. Canberra Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paul Kildea. Soloists Slava and Leonard Grigoryan (guitars), David Pereira and Benett Tsai (cellos). Llewellyn Hall, Wednesday June 19 and Thursday June 20, 7.30pm (free pre-concert talk at 6.45pm). cso.org.au or CSO Direct on 6262 6772.
A conductor with an international career who grew up in the ACT is finally making his Canberra debut.
Paul Kildea received his initial inspiration in music while a student at St Edmund's College from teacher Keith Radford.
He also saw his first opera in Canberra, Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde. That production, by Judith Clingan, was also to have a decisive impact on his life.
He still has family here and returns periodically to see them - and he's been pleasantly surprised by how much Canberra's arts and cultural world, already vibrant when he left, has grown.
But it wasn't until a year and a half ago that the 54-year-old musician was invited to conduct the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. And it hasn't happened until now.
He's been very busy internationally and in Australia since graduating from the University of Melbourne and completing a doctorate on the British composer Benjamin Britten at Oxford. Kildea has also been "conducting a helluva lot ... I've conducted most of the state orchestras in Australia and for Opera Australia."
His first CSO concert will begin with Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro Overture, which he describes as a thrilling opening that "lets the audience know they're in for a good night".
Interestingly, in his undergraduate days, Kildea was not very interested in Mozart.
"I just didn't know any better," he says.
"I liked Bach and 20th-century composers like Szymanowski."
But he eventually came around to developing new respect for Mozart, realising the composer's work was not as simple as it often looked.
The sibling guitar duo Slava and Leonard Grigoryan will be the soloists in Rodrigo's Concierto madrigal, a work that uses simple five-part Spanish songs.
Cellists David Pereira and Benett Tsai, 15, will be featured as soloists in the world premiere of To the Memory of Nelson Cooke: an Elegy for Cello and Orchestra. This work, by Canberra husband and wife Kenneth and Kirsten Lampl, is in honour of Cooke, an Australian cellist who died last year and whose career included being principal cellist at the London Symphony and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras.
Cooke was also head of strings at the ANU School of Music, where Kenneth Lampl is a lecturer.
Kildea says the Elegy is "lovely, meditative and elegant" and calls it "a fitting tribute".
Finally, there's Beethoven's Symphony No. Eight in F major, op. 93. Kildea says Beethoven loved this symphony, which "could be the ugly duckling" in the composer's canon, coming as it does before the more immediately striking Seventh and Ninth symphonies.
Kildea came to music later than many: he started playing trumpet in year seven at St Edmund's but dropped it after a few years and took up the piano, which stuck.
He studied piano, German and history at the University of Melbourne. It was there he began conducting.
His Oxford doctorate on Britten became his first book of three on the composer.
Another of his books, Chopin's Piano: A Journey Through Romanticism, is going to be adapted into a Hollywood movie.
Kildea has held a number of artistic leadership positions over his career in Britain and Australia, including artistic director of the Four Winds Festival in Bermagui.
He was recently appointed artistic director of Musica Viva, succeeding Carl Vine. His responsibilities will include programming, music education and artistic development. He wants to develop the programming of contemporary Australian composers' music - something he says Musica Viva has "no peer" in doing, build new audiences and work on international collaborations.
"All you need is a good idea."