Neil Thomas Smith, et al.

Published On


Page Range

pp. 177–190


  • English

Print Length

14 pages

9. Roundtable 3

Orchestras in a Changing Climate

  • Neil Thomas Smith (author)
  • Peter Peters (author)
  • Teemu Kirjonen (contributions by)
  • Detlef Grooß (contributions by)
  • Jan Jaap Knoll (contributions by)
  • Georgina MacDonell Finlayson (contributions by)
Classical music is often seen as a practice that struggles to react to contemporary events. Yet, it does register societal changes, with perhaps the most important being climate change. There is a sense of urgency, as well as a need for concrete action on this topic within the field. This chapter discusses how the classical music sector might respond. In this roundtable, Peter Peters is joined by four panellists with a stake in the issue: Teemu Kirjonen, general manager of the Finnish Lahti Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra that decided to go carbon neutral; Detlev Grooß from Germany, a violist and also chairperson of the Orchester des Wandels (the orchestra of change), which is a group of musicians from various orchestras around Germany who want to address climate issues; Georgina MacDonell Finlayson who is sustainability manager at the Scottish Nevis Ensemble, Scotland’s ‘street orchestra’, who play in unusual locations and tour extensively around their home country; and finally, Jan Jaap Knol who is the director of the Boekman Foundation, which is the institute for arts culture and related policy in the Netherlands, known for their research in the cultural sector. Each gives their own perspective on how their organisations are beginning to address the most pressing issue of our time.


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.

Peter Peters

Professor at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University
Director of the Maastricht Centre for the Innovation of Classical Music (MCICM) at Maastricht University

Peter Peters is endowed professor in the innovation of classical music and associate professor at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University. His current research combines a life-long passion for music with an interest in how artistic practices can be a context for doing academic and practice-oriented research. In previous years, he worked on an ethnography of a project at the Orgelpark in Amsterdam aimed at building a baroque organ for the twenty-first century. More recently, his research focuses on innovating classical music practices, especially symphonic music. Together with Stefan Rosu, director of Philzuid (South Netherlands Philharmonic), he developed the research lines in the Maastricht Centre for the Innovation of Classical Music: the role of classical music and its value for society; the ways in which the relationship between performers of classical music, such as symphony orchestras and their audience is mediated; and the ways in which classical music practices contribute to the preservation of our cultural and social sounding heritage.

Teemu Kirjonen

(contributions by)

Detlef Grooß

(contributions by)

Jan Jaap Knoll

(contributions by)

Georgina MacDonell Finlayson

(contributions by)