50-Year History of the DSO
Orchestras have been playing in Dunedin for over 100 years. How was the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra established?
In the 1930s, there was the 4YA Studio Orchestra, which played live broadcasts for half-an-hour each week.
In 1958, a new group called the Concert Orchestra was formed with the specific intention of accompanying the Dunedin Opera Company. Soon after this, the Dunedin Choral Society called on the Orchestra’s services, and eventually the orchestra started presenting its own concerts as well.
In late 1965, the Dunedin Civic Orchestra Inc., the orchestra’s current legal body, was formed. Grants were secured from the Dunedin City Council, the University, QEII Arts Council of New Zealand, and the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation.
The inaugural concert of the Dunedin Civic Orchestra Inc. was held in the Dunedin Town Hall on 19 February 1966. It was a grand occasion, with the Governor-General attending.
The years since then have been predominantly happy ones for the orchestra. Earlier in this period we changed our name to the Dunedin Sinfonia, in 2000 to Southern Sinfonia, and more recently, in 2016, to Dunedin Symphony Orchestra.
We are focused on increasing our profile and support, and presenting programmes that are varied and feature a wide range of local and overseas artists. The DSO enjoys support from players and audience alike, not just from Dunedin, but also from all over New Zealand. The Dunedin Symphony Orchestra is very much part of Otago and Southland’s cultural heritage.
The orchestra moved into its new home, Hanover Hall, in December 2016 (the former Hanover Street Baptist Church). Hanover Hall provides the orchestra with an acoustically safe and enlarged rehearsal space as well as office space, and provides opportunities for other associated forms of music.
Read more about Hanover Hall in the Heritage Quarterly Autumn 2019 edition of Heritage New Zealand here
Watch the official opening of Hanover Hall by Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern on Friday 2 November 2018
Listen to Alison Bowcott, a players’ representative on the DSO Board. She was interviewed by Radio Dunedin on the occasion of Hanover Hall’s official opening. The Hall was opened on Friday 2 November by the Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern.