One of the world’s oldest national symphony orchestras, we have charmed audiences with memorable concerts and recordings since 1947.

Today, the NZSO is recognised as an outstanding orchestra of international stature and our reputation for artistic excellence attracts  leading conductors and soloists each year. In 2016 the NZSO was nominated for Best Orchestral Performance at the prestigious Grammy Awards. We have recorded music for a number of film and game projects, including Wish DragonThe Hobbit, The Lovely Bones, Krampus, Emperor, Escape Plan, Mortal Engines, and Titanfall 2

"The very first music ever recorded for Howard Shore's magnificent score for The Lord of the Rings was done here, in Wellington, back in 2001 in the Town Hall. The piece, written for the Fellowship's journey into the Mines of Moria, was beautifully performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and showcased the exceptional acoustics of this over hundred-year-old building. We feel very lucky and excited to be able to work with the extraordinary talents of the NZSO in this world class auditorium as [composer] Howard Shore once again journey's into Middle-earth."

— Peter Jackson, Director, The Hobbit Trilogy

Oat The Goat NZSO 3

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NZSO's full-time complement is 3333 — 4331 — timpani + 3 perc — hp — strings. Our resident venue is the Michael Fowler Centre, in the heart of Wellington. 

As well as scoring projects, the NZSO has a strong recording history on disc with Naxos. This has created strong long-term relationships with local post-production facilities and highly-skilled engineers, making Wellington a competitive choice for recording scores of uncompromisingly high standard.

Recent Work

Wish Dragon

Wish Dragon composer Philip Klein in interviews has praised the NZSO for its contribution to the film. “They are a full-service film-scoring orchestra and they’re incredible,” he says.

“They are a proper orchestra, and the benefit of working with an orchestra that plays together is that they can come together so quickly as an ensemble … I also think that personality-wise, they’re a great fit as an orchestra for a film like this because they’re very laid back, they have a lot of fun, but they’re incredible, impeccable players.

“We had magical sessions. They played their heart. I’d always go back [to New Zealand] in a heartbeat, because I love those players and the ensemble. Also, the organisation is amazing. They go out of their way to make you feel welcome.”

Philip Klein with the NZSO at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington. Credit: Philip Klein

Mortal Engines

"What is really great about the New Zealand [Symphony] Orchestra is that they got things really quickly. We got a super-high return rate on the time that we recorded to what we got back from them. It was just an amazing collaboration."

— Tom Holkenborg, Composer, Mortal Engines

"There is so much talent here in New Zealand. Almost everyone that is sitting in this Orchestra has played their instrument for at least 20 to 40 years. You have 2000 years of musical experience contributing to your film. You would be silly not to take advantage of that many years of passion because that’s what people will always recognise. That will never just come out of a box, that will always come from the heart."

— Conrad Pope, Orchestrator and Conductor, Mortal Engines

Emperor and Escape Plan

"I’ve worked with orchestras all around the world, and this is a unique experience, it’s a working symphony orchestra, not a session orchestra. They perform the classical repertoire all the time in this hall, so they’re very well balanced, and respond incredibly quickly. They know how fast, how slow, how loud, how soft the music is going to speak together in this room. That makes it a really gratifying experience for me, because I don’t have to work hard to get the creative response I want, it just sounds great."

— Alex Heffes, Composer, Emperor and Escape Plan


“The Orchestra immediately played together so beautifully as a group, blending so well together in the hall, while brilliantly performing this challenging score. It is pure joy to have your music recorded by such amazing musicians.”

— Douglas Pipes, Composer, Krampus


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See also

NZ Film Commission