Community Engagement

Our award winning Community Engagement programme delivers a wide range of exciting opportunities and experiences for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to engage with the CSO and enjoy live orchestral music.

In 2018, we will present more than 100 Community Engagement activities to more than 20,000 people throughout the South Island, including:

  • Lively interactive instrument demonstrations by ensembles of CSO musicians at pre, primary and high schools in and around Christchurch and throughout the South Island.
  • The 2018 Secondary Schools Orchestra Festival, with support from CWSMTA
  • The CSO's acclaimed Karawhiua! Let's Play! residency programme.
  • CSO ensemble performances at retirement villages, libraries, and for community groups.
  • Interactive, lively performances of Compose Yourself for primary school students, encouraging student participation. 
  • Working with inmates at local prisons on music projects.
  • CSO In Residence +

    Through our Karawhiua! Let's Play! residency programme we work intensively within a school, introducing music to the students and assisting them to create, develop and perform their own work in a public concert within their community. Each programme is designed specifically for the school to meet their individual needs and expectations. During the year this programme will take place in various schools around the Greater Christchurch area.

    In June, in the first of our residencies for 2018, CSO musicians Assistant Concertmaster Sarah McCracken, Principal Bassoon Selena Orwin, First Violin Cathy Irons, along with singer-actor-teacher Juliet Reynolds-Midgley, will be embedding themselves at Haeata Community Campus for a week to work with students from years 1-6 on music projects. The students will rehearse the projects in preparation for the end of week concert on Friday for their peers, teachers, and whanau. 

  • Courage to Create: A CSO Composition Workshop +

    Attention all aspiring composers: the CSO is thrilled to invite you to write a piece of music that draws on the concepts of fear and/or courage.

    Pieces will be performed by CSO musicians in a workshop on Sunday 5th August, 2pm-5pm.

    The brand new works of the following composers will be workshopped: 

    Brian Hodges - Battlefront
    Thomas Bedggood - Fear and Courage
    Rodney L Morgan - Duty and Empire
    Felix Obele - Invasion
    Eva Bedggood - Fear & Courage
    Ihlara McIndoe - 450 Parts Per Million
    Nathan Otley...orbium coelestium...
    Lewis Grey - Overture of Fortitude
    Emily Davey - Anthem for Doomed Youth

    The pieces will be performed by a skeleton orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Young.

    For more information or to RSVP as an observer, please contact Community Engagement Programme Leader Cathy Irons at or on 03 943 7797.  

  • 2018 Secondary Schools Orchestra Festival +

    This year, the Secondary Schools Orchestra Festival will be held from 16th to 17th September at Christchurch Boys High School. This festival is open to high school orchestras from all around Christchurch and its surrounding areas and it is a fantastic opportunities for music students to meet each other, mingle, and have fun while getting performance experience. 

    Prior to the Festival, members of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra will go out to the participating schools to hold workshops with the orchestras and offer them advice and tips. 

    The festival will end with a showcase concert for all participating schools on 17th September. 7.30pm, at Christchurch Boys High School. 

    Applications for this year's Secondary Schools Orchestra Festival are now closed.

    This year, we also have the brand new Orchestras On Board, a fun experience for participating school orchestras to play at the Bus Interchange over a lunch hour on 17th September. 

    For more information, please contact CSO Community Engagement Programme Leader Cathy Irons at

  • The Richard Chandler Memorial Piano Masterclass +

    The CSO hosted a Richard Chandler Memorial Piano Masterclass with internationally acclaimed pianist Raphael Lustchevsky on the 26th April at the CSO’s rehearsal rooms in partnership with the Polish Association.

    Raphael Alexandre Lustchevsky made his concert debut with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra at the age of 16. Since then, he has gone on to perform in many prestigious concert halls such as the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Palais des Nations in Geneva, Warsaw National Philharmonic, Victoria Concert Hall in Singapore, Sala Cecilia Meirelles in Rio de Janeiro, and  Verbrugghen Hall in Sydney.

    A student of Professor Andrzej Jasinski, he has been listed as a Steinway Artist on the “Steinway & Sons Artists’ Roster” in New York featuring the world’s finest pianists.

    Four participants were put through their paces, received performance and practise advice and worked through difficult passages in their current projects.

    This masterclass series was established in 2016 in memory of our friend and colleague, Richard Chandler.

  • Ambassador Programme +

    In 2018, we are delighted to welcome 34 ambassadors from 18 different schools around Christchurch. These top young students, selected by their Heads of Music, will be able to attend CSO concerts for free. They will also receive a lesson from a principal player in the orchestra on their chosen instrument and have the opportunity to meet soloists and conductors. The aim is to expose young people to orchestral music, form relationships with them and develop their leadership potential. In addition Ambassadors select concerts they wish to promote within their school. They are able to invite fellow students to attend rehearsals as well as take part in exclusive behind the scenes tours and workshops for different aspects of the business such as production, sound and lighting. 

  • Slater 3/4 Violin +

    The Slater Violin was very generously donated to the CSO's Community Engagement Programme by Mrs Barbara Slater in 2015 to be loaned to a violin student who is looking to use a smaller instrument before moving onto a full size violin. 

    If you are interested in loaning the violin, please contact Cathy Irons at 


  • Touring Programme +

    Our regional touring programme involves ensembles from the orchestra visiting kindergartens, primary, intermediate and high schools. They also present recitals in hospitals and rest homes as well as taking workshops and sectionals for local music groups including brass bands, jazz bands and orchestras. In addition to this our musicians also provide masterclasses and individual lessons. These week long tours usually culminate in a community concert featuring CSO musicians performing alongside local groups and musicians.

  • Educational resources +