Shirley Thompson – Composer & Conductor

Shirley is an award-winning composer having written numerous scores for opera, contemporary dance, orchestra, film and television.

A music graduate (Liverpool), she went on to specialise in composition at Goldsmith’s College, London.  Her writing career began with awards from the Arts Council England and the London Arts Board before moving on to composing for film & TV. Her score for South of the Border was selected as Top TV Music Theme (1990), and her music for C4’s Dreaming Rivers feature won a prize at the Mannheim Film festival in the same year.

She also enjoys composing for contemporary dance & ballet, having been commissioned by the Royal Ballet School, and subsequently for Russell Malliphant at the Royal Ballet company.

Launching her ensemble in 1995 at the South Bank Centre, she continues to develop a style that fuses orchestral music with popular rhythms & vocal styles; the Observer commenting that it was “beautifully lyrical and exciting”.

Stage credits incl. music for the play The Lodger (Theatre Royal, Stratford East), and the two act opera A Child of the Jago, which ran at the Royal Festival Hall – the latter contributed to her winning the accolade of ‘Woman of the Year’ in the Arts that same year, 1997.

1998 saw her directing her first film, Memories in Mind (BBC2), and in 2001 she performed for HM The Queen at Westminster Abbey. Her symphony New Nation Rising received its premiere at the Stratford Cultural Quarter, London, June 2002, and has been recorded by the Royal Phiharmonic Orchestra.

She is the first British woman to have composed and conducted a symphony for 30 years and is the first black woman ever to do so. Shirley also lectures at University of Westminster.