Sydney Symphony’s Fellowship program is a kind of finishing school for young orchestral musicians. But there’s a lot more to it than learning how to tune up and pick out stylish concert blacks. The eight instrumentalists chosen to take part in the intensive yearlong program will be going to jail, as visiting artists giving performances and workshops in April.

Sydney Symphony principal violist and Fellowship director Roger Benedict says the excursions to a medium security prison will be an eye-opening experience for the young players. “It’s all about learning how to engage with the widest possible audience,” he says, “whether at a subscription concert at the Opera House, a group of under-privileged school children in regional New South Wales, or inmates in a prison.”

Also recognising that not all musicians are natural-born stage animals, Benedict has engaged a theatre director to work on their stagecraft. It’s all part of his plan to make “well-rounded, versatile and  highly imaginative performers” out of the four string players (one in each section) plus a wind contingent on oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn, all between the ages of 24 and 28.

“They come to the program already the...