Monday, December 31, 2018

Sergio Mims: Composer Shirley Thompson to be awarded OBE by Queen Elizabeth

Dr. Shirley Thompson

Sergio A. Mims writes:

This is great news.

The British composer and conductor Shirley Thompson, who is also Reader and Head of Composition and Performance at the University of Westminster, received an OBE.  The OBE is The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry rewarding contributions by British citizens to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service 

Ms. Thompson has composed for opera, orchestra, contemporary dance, TV and film and in 1994 she set up the Shirley Thompson Ensemble and this became the main vehicle for her instrumental and vocal works that fused contemporary classical orchestrations with popular and world music styles. In 2015, her opera Sacred Mountain: Incidents in the Life of Queen Nanny of the Maroons was chosen to open London's Tete a Tete The Opera Festival 

Thompson was the first woman to compose and musically direct music for a major drama series at the BBC.  Having trained as a television program maker at the BBC and Carlton Television she directed the film Memories in Mind, which was broadcast by the BBC in 1998.
Thompson began to focus on full orchestral composition and in 2004 became the first woman in Europe in more than 40 years to have composed and conducted a symphony. New Nation Rising, A 21st Century Symphony was recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to celebrate one thousand years of London's history.
In 2007 Thompson was commissioned to compose music for the opening of the Parliamentary exhibition The British Slave Trade: Abolition, Parliament and People, which marked the 250-year anniversary of legislation for the abolition of the transatlantic trade of enslaved African people. The Woman Who Refused to Dance, performed at the launch, is arranged for soprano spoken word artist and orchestra. Spirit of the Middle Passage for three solo singers, spoken-word artist and chamber orchestra was performed by The Philharmonia Orchestra  in the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre as part of the Freedom & Culture International Creative Forum.The work featured three heroines Nanny of the Maroons, Dido Elizabeth Belle, and The Woman Who Refused To Dance (on a ship with enslaved Africans).
In 2009 Thompson was commissioned by Southbank Centre to compose a piece to commemorate 100 days of Barack Obama's presidency. Voice of Change was performed in April 2009 at the Purcell Room Southbank Centre with performers including principals of the BBC Concert Orchestra  and soloists.
In 2010 Shirley Thompson was announced in the Evening Standard’s "Power List of Britain's 100 Most Influential Black People 2010" an accolade that would be repeated in subsequent years.
On 9 February 2013, extracts from her work Mandela Tales, inspired by the book Nelson Mandela’s Favourite African Folk Tales (2002), were included in the program performed by the Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Choir from the Gordonstoun School at the amphitheater at the V&A Waterfront Cape Town.
In April 2016 she was honored with the Luminary Award (presented to people of Caribbean heritage who have made significant, outstanding contributions on an international scale or have brought to prominence issues that affect the Caribbean region.

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