Sydney Symphony Orchestra pulled out all the stops this week to announce it had extended the contract of chief conductor David Robertson. The decision of the American maestro to wave the baton in Sydney for another year was celebrated with a slap-up lunch for media at Matt Moran’s harbourside restaurant Aria on Monday. The news had been such a closely held secret not even principal cellist Umberto Clerici, who sat cradling his priceless 1722 Matteo Goffriller, knew why he had been summoned to Moran’s temple of gastronomy. Soon enough, though, SSO boss Rory Jeffes made the announcement and Clerici, smiling, played an excerpt from Giovanni Sollima’s Alone (to the delight of most, and the disappointment of one attendee who had hoped to hear the cello-bound Game of Thrones theme played in honour of the recoronation). The maestro revealed his 2018 plans, which include a Brahms mini-festival, a European tour and a new composition by Australian composer Brett Dean. In 2018-19 Robertson also will end his tenure with the St Louis Symphony Orchestra, where he has been music director since 2003. Running world-class symphony orchestras on separate continents is no mean feat. So how does the 59-year-old keep his famously cool hand? The secret may be a power nap. As divulged to this organ’s arts editor Ashleigh Wilson, Robertson is a fan of a pre-performance siesta. He might have needed it at the weekend’s Mahler concerts, where he was kept on his toes by one punter in particular, Sydney’s Mahler tragic-inchief Paul Keating. There was no fine dining to accompany its announcement but the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts had a classical coup of its own this week. Soprano Emma Matthews has been announced as WAAPA’s new head of classical voice. Matthews, who has won more Helpmann awards (seven) than any other performer and is starring as the titular dame in new musical Melba, will start at WAAPA in January. Matthews was born in England and spent her early childhood in Fiji and Vanuatu, but her western appointment is a homecoming. She moved to Perth at 13, studied at WAAPA’s conservatorium, and made her debut with the WA Opera soon after. The Australian Festival of Chamber Music kicked off last night in tropical Townsville, and artistic director Piers Lane is again laying claim to the country’s most exotic music destination. On Tuesday, chamber music lovers will head for tiny Coral Sea outcrop Orpheus Island (population 21) to be entertained by the Nexas Quartet, Poul Hoxbro and Timothy Constable.