Aotearoa to become the choral music capital of the world in July 2020


It is with enormous sadness that Symposium 2020 Ltd, in conjunction with the New Zealand Choral Federation and the International Federation for Choral Music, announces that the 12th World Symposium on Choral Music (WSCM2020), due to take place in Auckland, New Zealand from 11 to 18 July, is to be cancelled.

WSCM2020 Artistic Director John Rosser says, “We have all witnessed the massive impact the spread of COVID-19 is having on current and upcoming events across the world. There is no guarantee that this situation will have changed markedly by July.

“The Symposium was to bring many of the best choirs and practitioners on the planet into New Zealand for a feast of concerts and other events before a large international audience. However, it has become clear that all the elements that made the event such an exciting prospect for our country also put it most at risk. After exhaustive examination of alternatives and consideration of risks, we have elected to cancel WSCM2020 now, in order to provide certainty for people who will be most affected,” Rosser says.

Ticket holders shall receive a full refund from the point of purchase.  If customers have any queries regarding their booking, please contact Ticketmaster 0800 111 999.




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 Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (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 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


The first World Symposium on Choral Music was held in Vienna in 1987. Following a three-city experiment three years later, the IFCM resolved that the event’s location would thereafter alternate triennially between the five continents and would be in “a prominent and attractive city with the facilities, financial support and managerial structure to successfully plan and administer a major international event”.

The stated aim of IFCM in founding the Symposium was to encourage “artistic excellence, co-operation and exchange by bringing together the finest choirs and choral leaders … and to enhance the existing choral life in a specific region of the world”.

While beginning life as something of a global convention for the choral community, the event expanded considerably in the 1990s and has now become a major international arts festival, showcasing to the wider public the best the choral music world has to offer.

A WSCM is first and foremost a choral festival. The presence of 24 of the world’s top choirs, who perform both during the day sessions and in evening concerts around the city, attracts not only strong interest from international choral aficionados but also from the wider public. This is easily the finest line-up of choirs music lovers will ever hear in one place.

The Symposium also serves as a global choral congress – a singular opportunity every three years for a significant proportion of the world’s choir leaders to meet, share ideas and be revitalised. Providing much of the inspiration are some 50 practitioners who present a wide range of talks, masterclasses, workshops and live demonstrations for both delegates and the public.

Every WSCM hosts a trade fair – an opportunity for choral conductors and singers to peruse a vast array of sheet music, choir recordings and other items relevant to the choral industry, such as music stands, rostra, acoustic screens, sound equipment, uniforms, folders, bags and assorted novelty items. Individual countries’ choral associations often take stalls too, as do music tour companies and other travel groups.

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.


For further information, images and interviews, please contact: Siobhan Waterhouse, Marketing and Communications Manager, P: +64 22 126 4149, E:

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