- Ian Dando
New Zealand city. Known colloquially as the Choral City, Christchurch developed a strong choral tradition from its settlement by the English in 1851. The pioneering Canterbury Vocal Union became the nucleus of the Royal Christchurch Musical Society, founded in 1860. In 1927 Victor Peters started the Christchurch Harmonic Society. With two large choirs competing for a similar audience, amalgamation into the 160-strong Christchurch City Choir in 1991 under the conductor Brian Law became inevitable. Its landmark was the Australasian première of Szymanowski's Symphony no.3 in 1997. The most prominent of the many chamber choirs is the Jubilate Singers, founded in 1977 by Martin Setchell, who directed the country's first authentic performance of Monteverdi's Vespers. In 1988 its new director, John Pattinson, extended its repertory to all eras.
The nucleus of Christchurch's professional music activity is the Christchurch SO (founded 1973), with its key support role for local opera, ballet and choirs. The amateur 75-piece Christchurch Youth Orchestra performs much local music, 20th-century repertory such as Stravinsky, Kodály and Shostakovich, and standard symphonic works. The professionally funded Canterbury Opera, founded in ...