“How exhilarating is this?” Dame Quentin Bryce asked the audience at City Recital Hall, gathered to celebrate the opening of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s 30th anniversary season. Dame Quentin was at the first performance of harpsichordist Paul Dyer’s period instrument band at the Sydney Opera House in 1990, which – among works by Handel, Telemann and Mozart – included the third of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, the works from which the orchestra takes its name.

Almost 30 years later, Paul Dyer’s orchestra opened its 2019 season with a concert featuring not one but five of Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos – and exhilarating it was. With the Concertos’ varied instrumental colours and combinations – Bach showing off what he could do with the modest forces at his disposal, in a job-interview type submission to a prospective patron, the Margrave of Brandenburg, in 1721 – the Concertos were the perfect medium to show off the musicians of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra Shaun Lee-Chen, Mikaela Oberg and Melissa Farrow with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Photo © Steven Godbee

Concertmaster Shaun Lee-Chen and recorder players Melissa Farrow and Mikaela Oberg took the first spotlight as...