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.
  • Conducting Workshop +

    On 8 November, 1-4pm in the CSO Rehearsal Rooms, we will be holding a conducting workshop at the CSO Rehearsal Rooms with CSO Chief Conductor Benjamin Northey, where he will discuss the elements of conducting before putting four participants through their paces as they conduct the orchestra in their chosen piece of music. If you are interested in observing the workshop, please contact CSO Community Engagement Programme Leader Cathy Irons at

    To register as a participant, please click here to fill out and submit the form. Applications close on 28th September. Selected participants will be informed on 5th October. 


  • CSO Internship Programme 2019 +

    Open to all musicians under 25 playing an orchestral instrument, this internship is an opportunity to experience life as an orchestral musician, develop skills and form networks within a professional orchestral environment. This programme forms the link between musical studies and orchestral performance. 

    Amount: $1500 per annum

    Successful applicants will have: 

    • 2 concerts with the CSO
    • 2 lessons with principal leading up to a concert

    Live auditions or DVDs accepted from those not currently living in Christchurch. 

    Written application must include: 

    • Name
    • Contact details
    • Age
    • Cover letter with reasons for applying and stage in music development
    • musical experience (grades, orchestral/ensemble)
    • 2 references


    • Own choice piece (Accompaniment optional, accompanist not provided); up to 5 minutes
    • Own choice scale and arpeggio
    • 2 orchestral excerpts provided by the CSO. Alternatively, two NZSSSO audition excerpts are also acceptable. 
    • Sight-reading

    Please send all enquiries and applications to Community Engagement Programme Leader Cathy Irons at 

    Applications close on Friday, 2nd November. Applicants selected for audition will be notified by 9th November. Auditions will take place on 17th December. 

    This programme has been generously supported by Alison Barwick

  • 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

  • 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 August, in CSO musicians Principal Oboe Jenny Johnson, Principal Timpani Mark La Roche, Principal Harp Helen Webby and First Violin Cathy Irons embedded themselves in Christchurch East School to work on various music based projects with all the students for a week. Projects included an integrated drumming performance about climate change, composing a rap poem based on human rights, learning to play violin, recorder or percussion, and more. At the end of the week, the students put on a highly successful showcase performance for their whanau and the school community.

    In June, Assistant Concertmaster Sarah McCracken, Principal Bassoon Selena Orwin, First Violin Cathy Irons, along with singer-actor-teacher Juliet Reynolds-Midgley, embedded themselves at Haeata Community Campus for a week to work with students from years 1-6 on music projects. 

  • 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 +