When an orchestra of the standing and excellence of the Australian World Orchestra comes to town it is both surprising and disappointing if the town does not turn out a full house to welcome them.

Around 500 made the 1,500-seat Llewellyn Hall look a bit sparsely populated for a concert with a big WOW factor. Still, a feast of other fine concerts was on offer in Canberra over the next week or so, including the premiere of Christopher Latham’s epic Vietnam Requiem on the weekend, so perhaps the practicalities of calendars or wallets (or both) overruled attendance desires.

Alexander Briger conducting the Australian World Orchestra in Sydney, 2021. Photograph © Ken Leanfore

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the AWO, under the baton of its Music and Artistic Director, Alexander Briger, opened the program with a nod to another birthday – postponed as it was from last year by a pandemic – Beethoven’s 250th. His Coriolan Overture was well chosen in the program, for its drama and intensity was a taste of what was to come.

Conducting from memory, Briger took the tempo perhaps just a tiny bit slow, but the players, led by Concertmaster for the first half of the concert, Katherine Lukey,...