BRITAIN’S MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE OF AFRICAN AND AFRICAN CARIBBEAN HERITAGE.
Shirley J Thompson
Composer; Conductor; Reader in Music, University of Westminster
Shirley is a visionary artist and cultural activist who made history when she became the first woman in Europe to compose and conduct a symphony in the past 40 years. New Nation Rising: A 21st Century Symphony, performed and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, is an epic musical story celebrating London’s thousand-year history, and one in which the RPO is accompanied by two choirs, solo singers, a rapper and dhol drummers, a total of nearly 200 performers. She has also composed extensively for TV/film, theatre, dance and opera production. She is also Reader in Composition and Performance at the University of Westminster and has served for over 20 years on several national arts institutions, including the London Arts Board, the Arts Council of Great Britain and the Newham Council Cultural Forum. She was the first female executive of the Association of Professional Composers and now serves as an elected member of the Classical Music Executive for the British Academy of Song Writers, Composers and Authors. Shirley has been commissioned for several royal engagements, including Commonwealth Day performing for the Queen at Westminster Abbey in 1999, for the Queen’s summer party at Buckingham Palace in 2001, and opening the Stratford Cultural Quarter with the London Gala Orchestra with Prince Edward in attendance. An aficionado of dance, Shirley has created music for contemporary choreographers, including commissions for the Royal Ballet School. Her most famous dance score for solo cello and string orchestra, Shift, forms a part of the award-winning ballet, PUSH.