A weeklong festival within a festival celebrating the works, life and influence of J.S. Bach was launched by the internationally acclaimed Bach Akademie Australia under its founder and Artistic Director Madeleine Easton in an intimate concert in the ACO’s Neilson Nutshell.

Temperament, co-curated by Sydney Festival Director Olivia Ansell and performer and composer Benjamin Skepper, is a series of seven concerts featuring leading ensembles and soloists.

Easton’s trimmed back band and four top-notch singers – with bass Christopher Richardson a late replacement for a COVID-affected Andrew O’Connor – proved the perfect opening act in a programme titled A Life in Music which ranged over Bach’s long career, from one of his earliest cantatas to two works from his Leipzig period.

Madelaine Easton and Bach Akademie Australia. Photo © Noni Carroll

Bach was only 22 when he wrote the funeral cantata Actus Tragicus in 1708, not that long after he walked 400km from Arnstadt to Lubeck on the Baltic coast to hear and study with the famous organist and composer Dietrich Buxtehude.

After the sombre Sonatina, with the mournful recorders of Mikaela Oberg and Alicia Crossley weaving over Nathan Cox’s chamber organ and...