The Dunedin Symphony Orchestra (DSO) is Dunedin’s only professional orchestra and is funded by Creative New Zealand. We have established a reputation for the high calibre of our performances.

Since 1966, the orchestra has been presenting its audiences with performances of a wide range of orchestral masterpieces featuring international and New Zealand conductors and soloists.

Dunedin is very much the home base of the orchestra and its players, and most of our performances take place in the city. As one of only four New Zealand City Orchestras, the orchestra is a key contributor to the city’s cultural vibrancy. The orchestra’s flagship is its annual five-concert series which encompasses music from the Baroque through to commissioned works. The orchestra’s versatility allows it to presents a wide range of other artists, such as Te Vaka, singers from the Dunedin Sound genre, etc.  In addition, the orchestra accompanies City Choir Dunedin, Opera Otago and the Royal NZ Ballet, ensuring audiences can enjoy choral, operatic and ballet masterpieces too. We have also worked with Natural History New Zealand (NHNZ) on several innovative multi-artform projects.

We have a proud tradition of providing orchestral players in the community with a comprehensive range of educational projects to nurture future players, from the DSO Academy for younger, developing players, through to its University Scholarship for potential DSO players, and masterclasses and workshops for advanced players. The orchestra also presents chamber concerts at schools around Otago which enables access for those centred far from Dunedin. A very high proportion of the DSO players form the backbone of the city’s music teaching infrastructure, demonstrating how integral the orchestra is to the city and the University of Otago.

Celebrity Artists

We have established a reputation for the high calibre of our performances, and for the conductors and soloists, we attract both from overseas and from New Zealand.

Soloists have included:Conductors have included:
  • Violinists Shlomo Mintz, Nigel Kennedy, Bella Hristova , Jack Liebeck, Lara St John, Noah Bendix-Balgley, Natalia Lomeiko, Amalia Hall, Ilya Gringolts and Tessa Petersen
  • Cellists Julian Lloyd Webber, Raphael Wallfisch, Ashley Brown, Umberto Clerici, Li-Wei Qin and Heleen du Plessis
  • Clarinetist Michael Collins
  • Pianists Michael Houstoun, Nikolai Demidenko, Piers Lane, Kristian Chong, Modi Deng, Jian Liu, Terence Dennis and Tom McGrath
  • Singers Dame Malvina Major, Sir Donald McIntyre, Dame Cleo Laine, Anna Leese, Emma Fraser, Jonathan Lemalu, Paul Whelan, Deborah Wai Kapohe, Manase Latu and Joel Amosa
  • Guitarists Karin Schaupp, NZ Guitar Quartet
  • Flautists Bridget Douglas and Luca Manghi
  • Music Director and Principal Guest Conductors Jack Speirs, Nicholas Braithwaite, Werner Andreas Albert, Simon Over
  • International conductors: Jessica Cottis, Roy Goodman, Vladimir Verbitsky, Edvard Tchivzhel, Brett Kelly, Dane Lam, Benjamin Northey, Daniel Kossov, Richard Davis and José Luis Gomez
  • New Zealanders: Tecwyn Evans, Holly Mathieson, Kenneth Young, Marc Taddei, Hamish McKeich, David Burchell, Peter Adams and Tianyi Lu
Halloween Spooktacular, Saturday 31 October 2020, Dunedin Town Hall
From the Southern Marches, Saturday 24 August 2019, Dunedin Town Hall
Carmina Burana, Saturday 1 September 2018, Dunedin Town Hall
Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade & Brahms’s Requiem, Saturday 30 September 2017, Dunedin Town Hall
Dunedin Symphony Orchestra’s 50th Anniversary Concert Ode to Joy, 9 April 2016, Dunedin Town Hall.
Dunedin Symphony Orchestra’s 50th Anniversary Concert Ode to Joy, 9 April 2016, Dunedin Town Hall
Conductor Hamish McKeich, Rehearsal for Romantic Masters, 2015
Holly Mathieson (Conductor), Amalia Hall (Violin) with the DSO in rehearsal, 2016
Violinist Bella Hristova rehearsing, with conductor Tecwyn Evans – May 2014

Our Audiences

Annually the orchestra performs to approximately 20,000 people. Audience sizes have ranged from nearly 3,000 for Schools Concerts, 2,000 for light music concerts, 1,000 for the International Series concerts, to 400 (full house) for the Matinée Series concerts.


The Dunedin Symphony Orchestra is acknowledged for its innovative projects. Highlights have included four collaborations with NHNZ, which have resulted in production of the commercially available videos and DVD’s Southern Journeys (a millennium commission), Sinfonia AntarticaTimeless Land and Equator – Circle of Life, and our collaboration with Otago Heritage Books, which resulted in the commercially released CD for From the Southern Marches.

Other highlights have included:

2009 : Portrait of Frances Hodgkins, celebrating the 140th birthday of the internationally acclaimed painter
2012 : The Topp Twins
2013 : The orchestra’s tour to Japan
2014 : Tally Ho! Dunedin Sound Songs & Singers
2015 : Tour of Portrait of Frances Hodgkins to Wanaka’s Festival of Colour
2016 : Gallipoli to The Somme composed by Anthony Ritchie
2017: Tally Ho! 2 Dunedin Sound Songs & Singers
2018 : Songs of Moana by Te Vaka and the DSO

2019 : Tally Ho! 3 the Essential Dunedin Sound

2020 : Halloween Spooktacular

Halloween Spooktacular, Dunedin Town Hall, Saturday 31 October 2020
Tally Ho! 3 – the Essential Dunedin Sound, Dunedin Town Hall, Saturday 13 April 2019

‘Songs of Moana’ with Te Vaka, Dunedin Town Hall, 8 July 2018
Dunedin Sound Songs and Singers, Dunedin Town Hall, Saturday 28 February 2015
Dunedin Sound Songs and Singers, Dunedin Town Hall, Saturday 4 November 2017
Gallipoli to the Somme, Saturday 1 October, Dunedin Town Hall