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Aotearoa to Become the Choral Music Capital of the World

Aotearoa to Become the Choral Music Capital of the World in July 2020

Thousands of choral music performers, presenters and practitioners are headed to Auckland for the 12th World Symposium on Choral Music, 11-18 July 2020

Twenty four of the world’s best choirs, over 40 distinguished speakers on choral music and thousands of delegates will descend on Auckland 11-18 July 2020 for the 12th World Symposium on Choral Music (WSCM2020).

One of the most anticipated events on the international choral calendar, the World Symposium on Choral Music is a major international arts festival which also serves as a global choral congress – a triennial opportunity for a significant proportion of the world’s choral music leaders and practitioners to meet, share ideas and be revitalised.

The WSCM programme offers a range of talks, masterclasses, workshops, demonstrations and performances for both choral music industry delegates and the wider public. Delegates usually include choristers, conductors, composers, music industry academics, singers, teachers and enthusiasts from all over the planet.

The theme of New Zealand’s Symposium is People and The Land \ He Tangata, He Whenua – the connection and tensions between people and land, between urban life and the natural world.

This has inspired many of the presentations, which include such topics as indigenous music and ‘ownership’, diversity and social empowerment, respectful collaboration with indigenous artists, singing as a haven for migrants and refugees, choral singing in prisons, welcoming transgender and non-binary singers, alongside cornerstone subjects such as conducting and vocal technique, articulation, rhythm, intonation, genre exploration, repertoire, movement and programming.

An international Artistic Committee reviewed the unprecedented number of 360 choir and presenter applications from more than 50 countries around the world to produce the final line-up of choirs and presenters for WSCM2020.

“No other Symposium, since the event began in 1987, has had such a strong response,” says John Rosser, WSCM2020 Artistic Director and Immediate Past Chair of the New Zealand Choral Federation.

“The Committee was deeply impressed with the calibre of applying choirs; we could quite easily have filled three world-class programmes! It’s going to be a truly wonderful week of choral performance, teaching, discovery and inspiration in July next year. And Auckland will literally be humming!” he says.

The 12th World Symposium on Choral Music is supported by New Zealand Major Events and ATEED, and hosted by the NZ Choral Federation in tandem with the International Federation for Choral Music.

Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford says, “Our Government is proud to support the World Symposium on Choral Music 2020 which will showcase New Zealand’s own outstanding choirs and our unique culture to the rest of the world.”

Steve Armitage, GM - Destination of Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED), says this will be a significant event for the region.

"Music is part of our DNA and is at the heart of Māori and South Pacific culture. For Auckland to play host to this international event underlines our ability to offer locals and international visitors a range of unforgettable experiences. We are proud of our thriving arts scene, and to be honoured as a UNESCO City of Music further demonstrates our standing in the world when it comes to our musical talent.

“The Symposium is set to attract visitors from around the world during a time of year that we want to see a boost in visitor numbers. This event supports this goal but not only that, we want to shine the spotlight on our region,” Armitage says.

Sitting alongside the Symposium is the Surround Sounds programme, in which 20 more top international and NZ choirs will perform for delegates and the public. Performance venues for both festivals include the Auckland Town Hall, the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre and the rest of the Aotea Centre, St Matthew-in-the-City and St Patrick’s and Holy Trinity Cathedrals. Public concert tickets will be on sale from early 2020.

Attending choirs range from widely regarded ensembles such as NOTUS and Portland State Chamber Choir from the USA and Mexico’s Voz En Punto, to young performers such as the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, Canada’s Hamilton Children’s Choir, Shenzhen Lily Choir from China, Australia’s Gondwana, the Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley and the New Zealand Youth Choir, national indigenous choirs including Nairobi Chamber Chorus, and all-female ensembles such as Slovenia’s vocal theatre Carmina Slovenica, Canada’s Xara Choral Theatre and Ewha Chamber Choir from Korea.

Registrations for the Symposium are now open with hundreds of delegates from over 40 countries having already signed up ahead of the recent Earlybird deadline.

Thousands of delegates attended the 11th World Symposium in Barcelona (2017) and the New Zealand event team is looking to have the same level of success. The next Advance Ticket deadline is 31 December 2019.

Registrations are available online at


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