Call for papers: Music, Spirituality and Genre study day, Friday 20 May 2022, Middlesex University, London, UK

Middlesex University is hosting a Study Day on Music, Spirituality and Genre on Friday 20 May 2022, convened by Dr Mike Dines and Dr Brian Inglis, in association with the international network Music, Spirituality and Wellbeing (MSW)

From Lady Gaga and Leonard Cohen to Arvo Pärt and Galina Ustvolskaya via John Coltrane, musicians working in various genres have notably explored spiritual themes and/or made music with spiritual intention. Music without such intentions can also be received in a spiritual context. How does spirituality manifest in musical terms through different genre lenses? How can such radically different sounds purport to have, or achieve, similar aims? To what extent can spirituality be de-coupled from religion? 

Proposals are invited for 20’ papers which consider how spirituality is manifested within a particular piece/performance, idiolect, genre, or across genres. The manifestation might involve the setting of or reference to spiritual/religious texts, or a more abstract evocation of spirituality/spiritual intent.

We are pleased to announce two lead speakers for the day: Georgina Gregory (co-editor with Mike Dines of Exploring the Spiritual in Popular Music: Beatified Beats) and Richard McGregor (writer on music and spirituality including in James MacMillan; co-author of books on Peter Maxwell Davies). Their joint session will be moderated by Revd Prof. June Boyce-Tillman, editor of the Music and Spirituality series for Peter Lang Verlag.   

The day will include lunchtime performances of works by John Tavener from BA Music students (classical performance/composition pathway), and conclude with spiritually-inclined popular music performances from students on the Popular Music pathway. There will also be a launch of Exploring the Spiritual in Popular Music.

While the day will be held in-person at Middlesex University’s Hendon campus in north London, a livestream will also be available. Prospective speakers, however, are strongly encouraged to attend in person. 

Please submit an abstract of max 200 words (plus a 100-word biography) by Monday 28 February 2022 to and/or We expect to announce the programme, along with further details about the day, by early April 2022.

Dr Mike Dines

Dr Brian Inglis

2 February 2022