The Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, celebrated its 50th anniversary year, is Dunedin's only professional orchestra, and one of four orchestras in New Zealand funded recurrently by Creative New Zealand. The orchestra plays an extensive cultural role in Dunedin and in the wider communities in Otago and Southland, performing live to up to 15,000 people each year, as well as many more through other media. The orchestra’s annual programme includes a five-concert subscription series, featuring high calibre conductors and soloists from overseas and from New Zealand, and some of NZ’s finest composers.
The orchestra’s annual programme includes a wide variety of concerts, such as chamber music concerts, Proms, performing with the Topp Twins, and the Dunedin Sound Songs and Singers (Tally Ho!) concerts. Its education programmes include schools concerts, a junior academy, masterclasses and workshops, and scholarships. It accompanies productions by resident and touring opera, ballet, musical and choral companies, and it tours to regional centres, such as Wanaka.
The orchestra size depends on the repertoire for each concert, from 65 – 70 players for full symphonic concerts to 35 for its chamber orchestra concerts. The DSO players are part-time and they range in experience from one player who has been in the orchestra for all of the orchestra’s 50 years, to another who was in the NZSO for 20 years, to new students.
The orchestra has very strong ties with the University of Otago’s Music Department, including collaborative projects for performance, conducting and composition students and lecturers.