Our Story

We belong to a distinguished 130 year history of classical music in Ōtepoti Dunedin. Today the orchestra continues to perform high calibre concerts as an important part of our region’s creative culture while also cementing our deep community connections.

For almost 60 years, the DSO has been inspiring and delighting southern audiences. From concert halls and schools in Dunedin and in other centres, the orchestra has established a reputation for presenting high calibre performances of a wide range of orchestral masterpieces with international and New Zealand conductors and soloists. Strong audience demand means the Matinee Series concerts need to be repeated, and the DSO’s Town Hall audiences are often the highest per capita in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The DSO also has a strong commitment to young people. Young players of all skill levels have a wide variety of opportunities to work with and learn from DSO musicians, and a range of ticket prices is available so that concerts are accessible for young audiences.

We are delighted to share this year’s line-up of concerts and artists with you, and look forward to seeing you at a DSO concert soon.

Our Orchestra

DSO orchestras range from approximately 30 players for our Matinée Series performances up to 70 for our International Series performances. These players are drawn from a wider pool of nearly 100 part-time professional musicians.

Orchestras have been playing in Ōtepoti Dunedin for over 100 years. How was the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra established?


In late 1965 Peter Platt (Professor of Music at Otago University and later Sir Peter Platt) and Walter Sinton, with support from City Councillor Maurice Joel and others, sought and secured funding from the Dunedin City Council, as well as the University, Arts Council and NZ Broadcasting Corporation, to start the ‘Dunedin Civic Orchestra’.


Gala 50th Anniversary Concert 'Ode to Joy'. Conductor Tecwyn Evans, Soprano Madeleine Pierard, Mezzo-Soprano Claire Barton, Tenor Jonathan Abernethy, Bass Jonathan Lemalu and City Choir Dunedin.

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.

What our audiences are saying

'Bach and Beyond' – Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 June 2022, King's and Queen's Performing Arts Centre

“I thoroughly enjoyed the concert on Sunday, and I thought the orchestra played the best I have heard for quite some time. I particularly enjoyed the new repertoire which showed off the different timbres, styles, instruments etc and found Brent to be a very expressive conductor.”

'Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 – ‘Ode to Joy’ - Saturday 12 June 2021, Dunedin Town Hall

“During my life, I've attended three performances of Beethoven's 9th, and tonight's performance was by far the best! It wasn't just beautifully performed, it contained the spirit of Beethoven. Well done! The Orchestra keeps growing and improving”

'Beethoven’s Big Bash' - Wednesday 14 April 2021, Dunedin Town Hall

“Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and City Choir was a winner tonight - loved it. Congratulations to all involved and especially the four young musicians who shone!"

It was wonderful to see young people making beautiful music together with the DSO. Thank you!! [My son] was in there somewhere with his trumpet. He enjoyed the performance!”

'Celebrating 2021' – Saturday 20 February 2021, Dunedin Town Hall

“We came out of the concert last night positively beaming. We met friends who said, "we could have been in Europe", which pegs the standard very high indeed. It is difficult to think of much more to say when you lifted several hundred people out of the doldrums and elevated most to cloud 9, where we floated for the rest of the evening. Dunedin is proud of its orchestra and we look forward to the season ahead."

Support Us

The DSO’s distinguished history and passion for making world class music contributes to the cultural capital of Dunedin.

Your support strengthens our performances, safeguards our commitment to our players, to provide innovative, high quality programmes and grow our activities

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Contact us

+64 (03) 477 5623



PO Box 5571

Dunedin 9054

New Zealand

Hanover Hall

65 Hanover Street

Dunedin 9016

New Zealand