Longing and Desire. An apt title for this concert. For one composer it was desire to eschew the compositional ‘establishment’ in its many guises. For another it was a longing for success after a disastrous reception for a previous work. And for still another it was longing and desire brought together in the musical expression of impossible love and inevitable loss.

Jessica Cottis conducting the Canberra Symphony Orchesta Jessica Cottis conducting the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. Photo courtesy of CSO

The Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, Jessica Cottis, directed this top-of-their-game outfit in a stylish and riveting concert of contrasting works.

Cottis is a synesthete. She visualises colour when she hears music. This concert was ablaze with it.

The Australian composer Richard Meale died in 2009, at the age of 77. Even so, he and Cottis are, in a sense, kindred spirits. Meale is one of Cottis’ favourite composers and he, too, was a synesthete.

Meale’s piece, Viridian(it’s a bluish-green pigment), is the embodiment of that phenomenon, written in 1979. But it was also one of Meale’s...