The ensemble’s pianist Stefan Cassomenos talks developing Australian culture and the challenges facing young composers.

What excites you about performing new and recently composed music?

Contemporary music is uniquely reflective of the times we live in, and performing this music feels very much to me like one is living in the moment, and meaningfully engaging in a global artistic conversation. I also enjoy performing music from previous centuries, and with regard to older music, I also feel an incredible excitement when breathing life into a manuscript from hundreds of years ago, constantly rediscovering style and seeing ideas afresh. But with new and recently composed music, the discoveries are in fact ours to reveal, and the style is what we make it.

What are some of the challenges?

The main challenge, as with all music, is to understand as best one can each composer’s musical language, and thereby unlock their means of expression. With a brand new piece of music, the full expressive potential of the piece is often not totally realised in the practice room, and instead reveals itself during the first performance. This is quite a bit different to performing works which are heard regularly. With new music, there is...