Neil Thomas Smith

Published On


Page Range

pp. 277–298


  • English

Print Length

22 pages

14. Changing Rooms

A Diary of Spatial Innovation

  • Neil Thomas Smith (author)
This chapter presents a diary of unconventional concert spaces, two pre- and four post-pandemic. The aim is to explore the effects of spatial innovation, providing insights for the future of performances outside the concert hall. Already a hot topic in attempts to innovate the classical music concert, the pandemic has seen an unprecedented (if enforced) explosion of experimentation in this area, whether online, outdoors, or in unusual buildings. What we have learnt from these experiences is far from clear. Indeed, vacating the concert hall may simply make people desperate to return. While innovation in this area can be effective, and the intentions are admirable, it might also be too easy a fix: changing space alone is unlikely to achieve the goals of improving classical music’s reach and demographic appeal. Concert hall discipline is not just in the concert hall but in the habits and practices of the people raised within its traditions.


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.