Shirley J. Thompson’s mesmerizing opera, Women of the Windrush, captivates audiences through its enchanting music and skillful integration of archival and film footage.
This celebratory production portrays the inspiring narratives of women who journeyed from the West Indies to the United Kingdom between the 1940s and 1960s.
These individuals, invited by the British government to aid in post-war reconstruction, played a vital role in shaping the nation’s history.
Derived from Thompson’s acclaimed film, Memories in Mind: Women of the Windrush Tell Their Stories (1992, British Film Institute), the opera breaks free from traditional operatic conventions, offering strong female characters in line with Thompson’s opera series, HEROINES OF OPERA, which she initiated in 2006.
An Opera That Transcends Boundaries:
In 2019, Women of the Windrush premiered in London to resounding success.
Its triumph was such that a soprano and piano arrangement featuring the charismatic lyric soprano of the English National Opera, Nadine Benjamin, will embark on a tour in 2023/24.
Shirley J. Thompson, one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary British music, received an OBE for her remarkable contributions to the field.
Her talent was recognized by HM King Charles III, who selected her as one of the composers to create music for the Coronation Service.
With mesmerizing music, song, and film, Thompson’s ingenious opera brings to life the inspirational narratives of women who traversed 7,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, leaving the West Indies to establish new lives in the UK, often referred to as “the Motherland,” during the mid-twentieth century.
What They’re Saying
a gripping work ...celebrating human community and resilience.Opera Magazine
a pioneering, powerful and wonderfully dramatic composer…BBC Radio 3
I'm wondering why I never contacted these guys sooner! Seriously, they all have commendable talent in their respective fields and knocked my concept out of the ballpark. Thanks for an amazing experience!Jack GrahamCo Founder, Coffee Inc
A Diverse Composer:
Thompson’s compositional repertoire spans a wide range of genres, including symphonies, ballets, operas, concertos, and music for television, film, and theater.
Among her notable works is New Nation Rising, A 21st Century Symphony, originally commissioned to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty in 2002.
This symphony later served as the framework for the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony and was recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Thompson’s baton. She became the first European woman in the last four decades to compose and conduct a symphony.
Collaborations and Awards:
Thompson’s collaborations extend beyond the realm of classical music.
She co-scored the music for PUSH, a ballet choreographed by the renowned Russell Maliphant, which toured over 40 major opera houses worldwide, including prestigious venues like the Mariinsky Theatre, Sydney Opera House, and La Scala, Milan.
Her talent also shines in the realm of television and film, having received awards for her scores in productions such as South of the Border and Dreaming Rivers.
Recognitions and Acclaim:
In addition to her OBE, Shirley J. Thompson has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the South Bank Award in 2005 and The UWI Luminary Award in 2016.
Her contributions to the world of opera and music have been hailed as groundbreaking, powerful, and dramatically evocative by critics and BBC Radio 3.
Women of the Windrush stands as a testament to the human spirit, celebrating the strength and resilience of a community that contributed significantly to the post-war reconstruction of Britain.
Shirley J. Thompson’s visionary opera breaks free from conventional operatic norms, presenting empowering female roles that resonate with audiences.
With her vast musical talent and diverse collaborations, Thompson has firmly established herself as a prominent figure in contemporary British music.
WOMEN OF THE WINDRUSH
75th ANNIVERSARY UK TOUR 2023/24
An Opera by SHIRLEY J. THOMPSON
in Tribute to an Ingenious Generation.
The Tabernacle, West London
19 July 2023, 7 PM
Buxton International Festival
21 July 2023, 2 pm
Women of the Windrush
Hyacinth E. Thompson – Nurse
Connie Mark – Secretary
Merlin Walker – Bride
Maxine Franklin – Concert Pianist
Nadine Benjamin – Soprano
Caroline Jaya-Ratnam – Piano
Rachel Duckett – Soprano
Connie Luk – Piano
Simone Ibbettson Brown – Dramaturg
Shirley J. Thompson – Artistic Director
“Shirley J. Thompson on composing for the UEFA Women's EURO 2022”Black Wall St. MediaContributor