A beaming Paul Dyer literally skipped onto the stage of Sydney’s City Recital Hall to introduce the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s first performance since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of live events eight months ago. His excitement was mirrored in the audience, some 400 enthusiastic music lovers – all duly temperature checked on the way in – spaced out across the venue’s 1,238 seats but obviously eager to get their fix of live performance.

Ayres and Graces The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s Ayres & Graces. Photo © Keith Saunders

Dyer, the Brandenburgs’ Artistic Director and harpsichordist, would himself be among them for this concert, ceding the stage to the band’s Principal Baroque Flute and Recorder Melissa Farrow, who directed and curated a beautifully intimate program of French and English music. Dyer’s handiwork was nonetheless writ large, as the curator (with designer Silvana Azzi Heras) of a slideshow of images inspired by the two countries displayed on a stage-wide LED screen behind the musicians.

Just as the audience was reduced and distanced, so too the musicians, the Brandenburg Ensemble – featuring Farrow and Mikaela...