“Believe me, this is not a programme that I could bring to any of the big five orchestras in the United States,” Sydney Symphony Orchestra Chief David Robertson told Jo Litson, referring to Sinfonia Flamenca, a program featuring French flamenco guitarist Juan Carmona and his septet. “This is the thing that is so exciting about having an orchestra that has this multi-disciplinary approach.”

The SSO often reaches outside the ‘traditional’ classical music world in its collaborations, performing with Taikozearlier this year and in 2019 with Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Like those programs, Sinfonia Flamenca offers more than simply a tokenistic cross-over concert, presenting a deeper exploration of the ways these different musical styles can intersect.

Sinfonia Flamenca, Sydney Symphony Orchestra Karen Lugo, the Juan Carmona Septet, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Photo © Daniela Testa

The first half of the program was a crash-course in flamenco from a master of the genre, in a suite of original works, an introduction to the sound world and improvisatory styles of flamenco.

The set opened with Carmona on stage alone – dispatching articulate, deeply-rendered flourishes on guitar –  before he was joined by Kike...