Concluding remarks for Vocal Futures Celebratory Colloquium, February 28th 2019
John Sloboda

The conversation today has been rich with many great questions and equally great answers from our distinguished and expert panel. I'd just like to highlight five issues which emerged with especial clarity for me:

  1. The language we use may limit us. Someone suggested that the very word "concert" might already frame things in the wrong way for a young audience, and we might think of alternatives such as "experience". Similarly, maybe we should talk less about "audiences" and more about "participants" taking the cue from the late Christopher Small whose concept of "musicking" emphasises the active role that everyone plays inmaking a musical event, whether performing or listening.
  2. Although there are pockets of good and interesting practice all over our profession, it's less clear how best practice is developed, assessed, and shared. Can events like this become a regular and valued means of knowledge exchange, and could someonebe persuaded to provide the modest ongoing funding to allow that to happen?
  3. Researchers have a role to play in the development of best practice. It would be good to see researchers becoming sought-after resources by arts organisations, and in this respect Vocal Futures has been exemplary in seeking, building, and maintaining along-term relationship with a team of research evaluators.
  4. How do we mainstream successful practice, so as to maximise impact for the largest numbers of people? What role could arts funding agencies play in this?
  5. There is a clearly a need to assist classical musicians to better relate to young audiences. This is a need that stretches from initial training in Higher Education through continuing professional development over the career.

For the opportunity to discuss and refine these questions, and engage in expert knowledge exchange, we owe a particular debt of thanks to Suzi Digby and the Vocal Futures Charity, and the leadership and vision she has shown.

Read the full talk here.


Vocal Futures Celebratory Colloquium – Feedback Quotes

“Congratulations on a terrific event -- some really interesting thoughts to improve my future work at the Festival and elsewhere.”

Justin Lee Director, Cambridge Music Festival

“It was a real pleasure to attend last week's Vocal Futures Colloquium; it was so interesting and I got a lot out of the various discussions that took place throughout the day, so thank you so much for hosting and being the driving force behind it!”


“It has given me many ideas for the future development of Wessex Sinfonietta and our engagement with young audiences. All that Vocal Futures has achieved over the last decade is truly remarkable and I only wish similar opportunities could be provided more widely countrywide. Particularly at the moment we have a desperate need for the healing power of music if we are even to survive as a country but I am so steeped in political doom and gloom at the moment that music is my only respite.The Colloquium gave an inspirational springboard to take us forward for the next few years and I will certainly be implementing some of the ideas.”

Christopher Mahy Charirman, Wessex Sinfonietta

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