One of the most important moments in my youth was going to my first orchestral concert, which was held at Canterbury Court around 1968. This experience ignited a life long interest in orchestral music for me.
The Civic Orchestra, as it was then called, performed Peter and the Wolf, the first full length orchestral piece I had heard. The narrator, I discovered recently in a history of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, was Ngaio Marsh. This was a bit of a shock because, for some reason I thought it was Ray Columbus! Presumably that was my idea of famous at the time (I was only twelve ok?).
One thing marred the performance. It rained and the rain drumming loudly on the corrugated iron roof drowned out the music at times. This was a common hazard for performances in both Canterbury Court and at the King Edward Barracks, where concerts were sometimes held before we had the Town Hall. As I remember it, even the 1963 concert for the Queen was in the Barracks, because there was nowhere else big enough for the massed choirs and orchestra to perform.
Sadly I can find no photographs of either the Barracks (except under construction or destruction) or Canterbury Court, in our extensive historical photograph collection. Does anyone out there have any? Or any recollections of these pre-Town Hall performances?