UCL Grand Challenges


Music Futures

Building a cross-disciplinary network dedicated to thinking, writing, performing and exploring music.

multiple musical instruments displayed in a row

11 July 2022

Image credit: Caleb George on Unsplash  


Grant: Ad-hoc support
Year awarded: 2021-22
Amount awarded: £5,000


  • Dr Claudia Sternberg, European Institute
  • Professor Nicola Miller, Institute of Advanced Studies
  • Dr Uta Staiger, European Institute 

Music Futures is an initiative dedicated to thinking, writing and performing music, jointly hosted by the UCL European Institute and the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies, with support from UCL Grand Challenges. UCL does not have a dedicated department of musicology, but it has a great wealth of UCL academics working on and with music in a wide range of disciplines - be it in literature, history, philosophy, technology, law, cognitive neuroscience, fine arts or elsewhere. Music Futures aims to foster a new cluster of scholarship and creativity in this space. This includes research about music as well as research qua creative or performative practice. To this end, we also draw in musicians, composers and performers external to UCL. 

The initiative curated a series of events, societies and clubs; recordings, podcasts and films; projects and publications; teaching and engagement. In addition, nine projects were supported under the initiative, selected from the response to the Music Futures call for proposals. This has led to the initiative building a cross-disciplinary community and network, bringing together musicians, artists and academics working on music from across UCL.

The initiative culminated in the week-long Music Futures Festival in June 2022, but it will not end here. Whilst initially planned only for Academic Year 2021-22, due to it's success in building a cross-disciplinary network, the initiative carried on into 2022-23, including through the establishment of UCL & Royal Academy of Music Interdisciplinary Collaboration. The Music Futures initiative and programme of events and engagement, continues to generate lasting impacts.

Thumbnail pictures showing range of events held in Music Futures festival

The Music Futures project exhibition panel at the Grand Challenges, Grand Impacts exhibition, 2023