Shirley Thompson

”Legend of the Phoenix” - song written for Ambassador Ruth Davis

commissioned in partnership with United Nations Decade of Women and University of Wolverhampton

The music of composer Shirley J. Thompson is performed and screened worldwide and often described as “superbe” (Le Figaro). A visionary artist and cultural activist, Thompson is the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony within the last 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. This extraordinary work was originally commissioned to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 and the concept was latterly assumed as a framework for the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. She has also composed extensively for TV/film, theatre, dance and opera production, always driven by the belief in the transformative power of music to affect social, cultural and political change an approach that has been unique in the genre.

Thompson’s musical experience began with her playing the violin for various youth symphony orchestras in London, as well as choral singing with local choirs in Newham. After studying Musicology at the University of Liverpool and then specialising in Composition at Goldsmiths’ College, her first major commission came from the Greenwich International Festival, when she composed a chamber orchestral work entitled Visions (visions of  self-determination for Caribbean nations) performed by the Greenwich Ensemble.