A season opener can have many roles. It can be, as Limelight’s Melbourne critic Tony Way once put it, “a rousing manifesto of the organisation’s values and future agenda” or, as Perth critic Laura Biemmi recently described the West Australian Symphony Orchestra’s season opener, “a fun array of sunny works and endlessly hummable tunes to gently coax us back into the concert hall”.

Imogen Kelly in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s The 1950s Latin Lounge. Photo © Jay Patel

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s The 1950s Latin Lounge – a sequel, of sorts, to 2018’s A Night at the Speakeasy concerts, evoking the 50s vogue for all things ‘Latin’ – was more the latter than the former, and certainly a different beast to last year’s Season Opening Gala, under the baton of then Chief Conductor David Robertson, which featured a mammoth performance of Percy Grainger’s The Warriors.

Such extravagant forces as were required for the Grainger would not have been possible, however, in the Sydney Town Hall, where the SSO will be based for the next two years while the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall is...