In 1958, under the vision and direction of Professor John Ritchie, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra was formed.
Christchurch is a multi-cultural community bursting with artistic talent, at the heart of which are CSO players who live and work within the city. These talented musicians are the backbone of orchestra and play an integral role in the fabric of Christchurch’s cultural society. The CSO's players form the core of professional music teaching through private and itinerant classes within Christchurch.
The orchestra actively contributes to the cultural diversity of the community through a full and varied concert season, as the orchestra of choice for many touring artists and other arts organisations, through the CSO’s extensive Community Engagement programme, and at civic events.
Championing New Zealand composers and artists is hugely important to the CSO and it has, for many years, showcased, commissioned and premiered New Zealand works and performed with the best of New Zealand talent.
In 2016, the CSO received a Highly-Commended certificate in the Arts Access Awards for their collaboration with Christchurch dance company Jolt Interactive. The orchestra was also a finalist in the New York Festival Radio awards, along with Radio New Zealand, in the Best Music Special category for the live broadcast of the CSO’s first Lamb & Hayward Masterworks concert of 2015, Sea to Sky.
In 2018, the orchestra celebrates its 60th anniversary.