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The Big Sing (TBS) is a highly successful, national group-singing competition for secondary school students. Secondary Schools' Choral Festivals began in 1988 as a development of the vocal section of the Westpac Schools' Chamber Music Contest. From being a very small part of that contest, The Big Sing has grown into New Zealand’s largest choral event and is a major highlight of the secondary school music calendar. Each year, around 8,000 young people from around 250 school choirs take part in regional festivals nationwide, and the number continues to grow. This makes TBS one of the largest competitive events in the country.

The goals of The Big Sing are:

  • to encourage a diverse range of students to participate in choral singing
  • to develop young people and inspire them to achieve excellence
  • to nurture wellbeing and mental health through the joy of singing
  • to cultivate the next generation of young choral leaders
  • to stimulate an appreciation of a broad range of choral music
  • to foster an understanding and appreciation of Maori language and waiata
  • to provide a platform for music by NZ composers
  • to enable collaboration through shared performance opportunities

3 levels – 11 festivals – 250 school choirs - 8,000 students


TBS Regional Festivals

Regional festivals take place over a period of 1-4 days in 10 centres during June. The choirs are required to present varied 10-minute programmes, including at least one New Zealand composition, and showcase their favourite items in a gala concert on the final night.

TBS Cadenza

Cadenza will take place over two days in three centres, and will blend a formal, adjudicated competition with combined-choir reading and learning sessions, finishing with a gala concert and awards. Cadenza festivals in 2022 will be held in Timaru, Whanganui and Rotorua.

The Big Sing Finale

The 2023 TBS Finale will be held in the Auckland Town Hall from Friday 25 - Sunday 27 August 2023 and involves a total of 24 choirs selected from the regions – around 900 students with their directors and supporters. Each day there are expected to be around 1000 in the audience, with a capacity Gala concert of up to 2000.

SOUNZ Composition Competition

As part of the festival, NZCF and SOUNZ (the Centre for New Zealand Music) also run a choral composition competition.

Fine Tuning

The NZCF Association of Choral Directors (ACD) have a professional development programme, Fine Tuning, for conductors and choirs entering The Big Sing. More details here.

The Big Sing is sponsored by Tour Time, our primary funder Creative New Zealand and the Ministry of Youth Development.