The idea of a 'concept album', that is an LP or CD with artistic ideas that develop over the course of the album, emerged in popular music studies from the release in 1967 of the Beatles album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The concept album can have an appearance of unity by presenting one of three designs: a single story line or subject; a pervasive lyrical and/or musical theme; or a recurring musical theme. This paper discusses the adoption of both research-led practice and practice-led research approaches in a project of new music for viola and piano titled Australia East and West. First, through a research-led practice lens, it moves the idea of a concept album across to an intimate contemporary classical music project, where underlying thinking on the part of the project organisers draws several works together into a united program. With this research approach, the project of new music for viola and piano is discussed in relation to the targeted selection of composers, and ongoing discussion by the authors and the composers of their new works in relation to the whole program of works. Secondly, the paper investigates the practice-led research emerging from one piece in the project, Into the Sun, by exploring the musical thinking and rehearsing of the authors in relation to their process. In doing so, the paper presents the two practice-based paradigms as ways of exploring the artistic work as both process and outcome.