“Every concert at the moment is a gift,” observed Benjamin Northey at the opening of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s concert on Thursday night. Indeed, it is a rare gift, in these times, to sit with an audience, inside a concert hall, and enjoy live performers on stage. And doubly so at Thursday’s concert, for central to the program was Margaret Sutherland’s Violin Concertofrom 1960, a rarely performed gem from one of the great Australian composers of the 20th century.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Sophie Rowell credit Laura Manariti Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Sophie Rowell. Photo © Laura Manariti

It was Sutherland herself who lobbied for the construction of Hamer Hall; her name adorns the Concertmaster’s suite at the venue. It is a great shame that so few have heard of Margaret Sutherland, and even fewer have had the pleasure of hearing her music live. Thomas Matthews and Victorian State Orchestra under Georges Tzipine premiered her Violin Concerto in 1961 – it was composed between 1955 and 1960, and is one of her rarer orchestral pieces; there is...