Richard Tognetti audibly swells with pride when I ask what he’s most looking forward to in 2013 as artistic director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. “Finding the time in Brett Dean’s busy schedule to write me a violin concerto,” he answers instantly.

Not just any concerto, but a “massive new commission” for electric violin. “Think beyond a violin,” Tognetti continues. “I don’t want it to sound like a violin that’s plugged in; I want it to be a broken-up universe of sounds. I haven’t unleashed [my electric violin] on the public in this guise before and there’s no better person to do that than Brett.” It is with the brave new world of Electric Preludesthat Tognetti will open the ACO’s 2013 season in February, but he hasn’t abandoned his priceless 1743 Guarneri, which will be heard in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 3 in the same concerts.

Next year, Tognetti hands the reins to four soloists who have become familiar faces in Australia through recent ACO tours: cellist Steven Isserlis, Moldovan violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja (styled “The Barefoot Fiddler” during her 2010 stint as guest director), Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst and Barry Humphries. But the...