In Brief

I am a Scottish composer of chamber, orchestral and choral works based in Canterbury. I studied in York and Stuttgart, the latter leading to a keen interest in German contemporary music.

I am also active as a flautist with new music group Dark Inventions, and as a reviewer and musicologist.

When starting a piece, I rarely begin with the musical material. Instead I am increasingly interested in the structural and architectural possibilities of sound, so that sound is a means of experiencing some kind of larger shape.

This has led to a particular interest in multiple experiences of pulse and rhythm, as well as intersections between physics and composition, and the use of large-scale musical processes.

In 2012 I won first prize in the Acht Brücken Composition Competition with Gravitation, which was played by Schlagquartett Köln and broadcast on WDR 3. My orchestral work, Habitus, was also broadcast in a performance by the WDR Symphony Orchestra.

Recently, I taught on the Aldeburgh Young Musicians/Britten Sinfonia Academy Summer School and am currently taking part in Making Music’s and Sound and Music’s ‘Adopt a Composer’ scheme with Thame Chamber Choir. 

Performances of Neil’s Work

Major performances include: a percussion quartet, Gravitation, which won first prize in the Acht Brücken young composers’ award after a performance by Schlagquartett Köln; a short chamber opera Passive/Aggressive which was performed at the Wilhelmspalais in Stuttgart; and the orchestral work Habitus which was performed by the WDR Sinfonieorchester in Cologne in 2013.

Both Gravitation and Habitus were subsequently broadcast on West German Radio. Recently he has written pieces for the Twelfth Day duo, Dark Inventions clarinetist Jonathan Sage, all of which were performed at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

I have also been involved in a number of film projects, particularly with director Tom Chick. Chick's Through My Brother's Window was made in 2009, while The Fisherman's Daughter was shown at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2011.

Death in a Nut - the latest collaboration with Chick as well as Digicult, Glasgow - was completed at the end of 2011.


Neil Tòmas Smith was born and raised in Edinburgh. Before beginning his studies at the University of York he was taught composition by Tom David Wilson for three happy years at St. Mary’s Music School and the RSAMD junior academy.

He has since received tuition from many friendly composers such as Alasdair Nicolson, Carola Bauckholt, James Macmillan, Thomas Simaku, Richard Causton, Mathias Spahlinger, Brian Ferneyhough, Dai Fujikura, Georg Friedrich Haas, Beat Furrer and Roger Marsh.

Deciding one Masters was not enough, Neil attended the Musik Hochschule in Stuttgart from 2010-2012 where he studied with Caspar Johannes Walter. In Stuttgart he also studied computer music with Marco Stroppa and Piet Johan Meyer and attended many of Germany’s new music festivals, including Darmstadt, Donaueschingen, Witten and Maerzmusik.

He is currently completing his PhD on Mathias Spahlinger at the University of Nottingham.


Origin: Edinburgh

Born: 1987

Awards / Opportunities:

  1. -Selected for Making Music’s Adopt a Composer Scheme, 2015.

  1. -Shortlisted for Britten Sinfonia Opus 2016.

  1. -Selected for Psappha’s ‘Composing for Cello’ Opportunity, 2015.

  1. -First Prize, Acht Brücken Young Composers’ Competition, 2013.

  1. -Selected for WDR Werkstatt with WDR Symphony Orchestra, 2013.


-Boroughmuir High School

-RSAMD Junior Academy

-St. Mary’s Music School

-University of York

-Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Stuttgart