Neil Thomas Smith, et al.

Published On


Page Range

pp. 29–40


  • English

Print Length

12 pages

1. Roundtable 1

Whose Future?

  • Neil Thomas Smith (author)
  • Maria Hansen (contributions by)
  • Kirsteen Davidson Kelly (contributions by)
  • George E. Lewis (contributions by)
This chapter looks at approaches to urgent issues around equality, inclusion and diversity within classical music today through the lens of volume’s main theme: the future. The discussion covers three arenas in which efforts to increase representation in terms of gender, race and – to a lesser extent – class are well underway, though still with significant steps still to take for parity to be achieved. These are: music higher education, community projects undertaken by orchestras, and festivals of new music. Each author provides a snapshot of the issues at stake in these different areas of classical music practice, showing distinct challenges but also important areas of overlap. There is common ground in the attempt to broaden the profile of the students, participants and practitioners active in their various spheres and, in so doing, there is an implicit challenge to one or other of the tenets of classical music culture described above. The discussion originally took place as part of the Maastricht Centre for the Innovation of Classical Music’s 2021 symposium that considered ‘the Future’. The panel consisted of Maria Hansen, chief executive of ELIA, a Higher Education network; Kirsteen Davidson Kelly, formerly creative learning director of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, now chief executive of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland; and composer, improviser and scholar, George E. Lewis, who is the Edwin H. Case professor of American music at Columbia University.


Neil Thomas Smith


Neil Thomas Smith is a researcher and composer, teaching at the University of Edinburgh and the Open College of the Arts. Between 2018 and 2022 he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Maastricht Centre for the Innovation of Classical Music, where his research focussed on orchestras’ attempts at spatial innovation, both inside the concert hall and beyond. Neil has also worked on German contemporary music and sociological examinations of ‘emerging’ composers, with articles appearing in journals including Music & Letters, Cultural Sociology, Contemporary Music Review, the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Tempo, and the British Journal of Sociology. His first monograph, a critical companion to the composer Mathias Spahlinger, was published in 2021; while a debut disc of chamber music, Stop Motion Music, was released in 2023.

Maria Hansen

(contributions by)

Maria Hansen has worked in performing arts for almost thirty years. She was fundraiser and later executive director of opera liner Ottawa until 1985 and for eleven years Maria managed the Netherlands Bach society. In 2007 she became managing director of the municipal theatre and concert hall Philharmonie of Haarlem and after ten years in Haarlem she made the move to ELIA the globally connected network of higher arts education based in Amsterdam.

Kirsteen Davidson Kelly

(contributions by)

Kirsteen Davidson Kelly writes here in her previous capacity as the Creative Learning Director of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, which is based in Edinburgh, UK. Kirsteen was a founder member of the innovative piano group Piano Circus and has a PhD in musicians’ mental rehearsal strategies from the University of Edinburgh. She is now Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland.

George E. Lewis

(contributions by)
Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University

George E. Lewis is a composer, musicologist, technological artist, and trombonist. He is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, and a member of the Akademie der Künste Berlin.