Aether’ is a song cycle for voice and improvising ensemble, exploring the impacts of the climate crisis across different environmental settings. Each of the five songs of the cycle will be centred around one of the elements: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Aether, and will explore the impacts of the climate crisis across different, sometimes minute environmental settings. Over the next 18-months, as part of the research process, I’ll be partnering with scientists at St Andrews University School of Earth and Environmental Science whose work intersects with the subjects ‘Aether’ will explore.


For a while now I’ve been thinking about how I can use my artistic practice to create something meaningful in response to the environmental problems we face as a society. Some of you might know that my dad is a physicist whose work interacts with the field of climate change research, and I hope this project will give us the chance to work together and exchange ideas. In ‘Aether’, I hope to  broach my anxieties and hopes in a way that I also find artistically meaningful. I want to create something that balances the seriousness of the subject matter with moments of hope and optimism. 


In ancient western science, the fifth element, 'Aether' was invoked to explain the ability of light waves to travel through empty space– an invisible materiel that filled the universe, later disproved. In Hindu philosophy, its equivalent ‘Akasha’ is the imperceptible fifth substance: the property of sound, and this is how I will imagine it in my interpretation. I’m at the very, very beginning of this work, and I can’t wait to share its development with you.

Aether's development has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Hope Scott Trust.

Nishla Smith

Aether. A song-cycle for voice and  improvising ensemble, developed in  partnership with scientists at St Andrews University 


Moments. A three-part conceptual concert series from imaginative song-interpreters Nishla Smith  & Tom Harris. 

Nishla Smith, Tom Harris, Molly O'Donoghue
Nishla Smith, Tom Harris, Molly O'Donoghue
Nishla Smith, Tom Harris, Molly O'Donoghue

Over the course of three May 2021 livestreams, Nishla and Tom told a continuing story, shifting perspective from show to show, weaving together beloved songs and original music with new poetry, stories, and musical interludes. They fell down a well, soared on the wings of a lark, and at last alighted in a garden at dawn. 

Moments will be revived and reimagined as a live show later in 2021.

To book: 

Artwork by Molly O'Donoghue

May 13. 

Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club 

May 19. 

St Barts Great Hall 

May 26 

Wiltshire Music Centre 

Oct 2

Two Moors Festival


Night Porter is the newest project from saxophonist/composer Emma Johnson and vocalist/composer Nishla Smith. As Night Porter, we’re developing a new sound, blending our different musical aesthetics, and incorporating layering and electronic elements.​

Night Porter, Emma Johnson, Nishla Smith

Night Porter: Spaces. A new set of songs for Manchester Jazz Festival's Originals Commission.

Our debut project, Spaces is a set of four songs, composed around imagery of real-life spaces in and around Manchester, and designed to be listened to in situ– to create a digital ‘live’ experience. We've also created a set of evocative films to accompany the music. Spaces was commissioned by Manchester Jazz Festival and is due for release in Summer 2022.