Much like Kurt Vonnegut’s bumbling Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five, classical music is unstuck in time. Rather than being suspended in one place in history, it’s a living tradition, shaped by additions from every musician who encounters it. 

This is a vision that Tahlia Petrosian champions. The versatile Sydney-born, Leipzig-based violist is a member and producer of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, performs with the Australian World Orchestra, and is a bold classical music innovator, breaking ground with a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach. 

Tahlia Petrosian grins.

Tahlia Petrosian. Photo © Thomas Gallane

In 2016, she formed KLASSIK underground, a project that centres on the modern presentation of classical music, fusing it with 21st-century urban nightlife. The ensemble has collaborated with a host of elite musicians, including Joshua Bell, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Andris Nelsons, and has also worked with visual and video artists, dancers and actors in its live performances. 

In May, KLASSIK underground hosted its first ever festival, the Wunderhorn Festival, presenting a series of aftershows linked to the parallel Mahler Festival, which took place in the Gewandhaus concert hall. The Wunderhorn Festival unfolded next door in the...