On stage, three massive banks of flowers; on the program, Mahler. Yes, it can only be another gala season opening with Simone Young conducting Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

And it doesn’t get better than that.

Simone Young, Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Photo supplied

Hot on the heels of welcome news that Young has extended her tenure as Chief Conductor to the end of 2026, this latest Gustav celebration combines his most popular symphony, the Fifth, with an exciting Australian premiere of a new work by French composer Camille Pépin written for her compatriot, top violinist Renaud Capuçon.

Co-commissioned by the Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National de Lyon and the SSO, Le Sommeil a pris ton empreinte is a densely orchestrated 25-minute work in four movements inspired by three poems by the Surrealist poet Paul Éluard touching on erotic love, grief and, finally, new-found happiness.

Its title comes from one of these poems – Sleep retains your imprint, and the colour of your eyes – and the 33-year-old composer and Capuçon both share an admiration for the poet’s works. Pépin says her music is “at the crossroads” of French...