COA Artistic Director Richard Tognetti talks about the independent music venues that rock our city

Richard Tognetti, artistic director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, grew up in the seaside town of Wollongong. He now lives in Manly with his wife, Satu Vänskä, who is the solo violinist and leader of ACO Underground, the orchestra’s experimental spin-off band. When he’s not running the ACO, he likes to make the most of Sydney’s independent music venues in Marrickville, or savor Neil Perry’s cuisine at the chef’s latest venture in Double Bay. This month, he explores American classical music from the past 150 years, from 20th-century pioneers Florence Price and Morton Feldman to modern-day greats, including John Adams and The National’s Bryce Dessner. The American is running until November 23.

Read on for My Sydney by Richard Tognetti.

Favorite restaurant in Sydney: by Neil Perry Daisy is a return to its independent form, and Ho Jiak is a constant favorite.

Ideal day in Sydney: My ideal day is spent in the surf followed by a barbecue on the beach with my wife Satu, my son Leonardo and some friends.

Stores to shop: Desire Books & Records in Mannly. He has a fantastic and eclectic collection. You never know what you will encounter. My most recent purchase there was a first Moog synthesizer disc.

The most underrated place: Walsh Bay. Calling Pier 2/3 our home still hasn’t sunk. It is the most extraordinary cultural building in the most extraordinary place. We are surrounded by neighbors – Bangarra, Sydney Theater Company, Sydney Dance Company and Bell Shakespeare – and we are just the caretakers. It is a public space, completely open to all.

What makes Sydney a better place: Marrickville’s independent music venues – like Sloth Lounge and gasoline pony – they’re a great way to experience Sydney’s live music scene, from jazz to punk. A city cannot rely solely on food and football; it’s the locally run music and art venues that make a city vibrant.

Sydney Essential Song: Saturday night by Cold Chisel. I love this song, and the movie clip is awesome. The portrayal of Kings Cross in the mid 80s is spot on. The ACO’s first home during my formative years as a director was this studio above a store in King’s Cross. It was across from Porky’s, that seedy strip club, and we were surrounded by criminal establishments and all the cafes on Kellett Street. This song captures that era perfectly.

What I like the most in Sydney: The harbor is breathtaking whenever I find the time to explore it, from North Head to all the little inlets and tributaries that rise up to Hawkesbury. I love that you can spend your morning surfing in Manly before hopping on a ferry to a concert at the Sydney Opera House. It’s a unique experience in Sydney.

My Sydneyis a regular column that uncovers the places and spaces that captivate and attract well-known Sydney residents.