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Shirley J Thompson to honour Windrush women at festival

NEW PRODUCTION: Shirley J Thompson has helped create art that explains the stories of those women who “bravely” came to the UK as part of the Windrush Generation

FRESH FROM her music having been performed at the of cial Windrush commemoration service at Westminster Abbey earlier in the year, composer Shirley J Thompson is turning her attention to the role played by the women of the Windrush Generation.

Thompson has put together a multimedia production which honours their contribution. It will be performed on Saturday, September 22, as part of the Equator Festival’s ‘Women and Words’ event.

Through instrumental music, spoken word and video, British-Jamaican composer and artistic director Thompson, together with guest musicians and composers, will showcase narratives and memories that inspired them with a uniquely female perspective on the Windrush experience.

The performance will showcase a unique mix of music, including classical, electronic, mbira and reggae, plus a spoken word element, as well as featuring performances by an array of accomplished female artists who are descendants of the Windrush Generation.

A key part of the event will be the film Memories in Mind: Women of the Windrush Tell Their Stories, which was what inspired Thompson to stage the event.


Her film features a cricketer's wife, a student nurse, a concert pianist and a new bride, all relating their experiences of arriving and settling in England. Between 1948 and 1973, some 524,000 people from the Commonwealth became residents in the UK.

Thompson said: “I am thrilled that people from the Windrush Generation are at last being recognised for their phenomenal achievements. They helped to build the UK and changed the face of Brit- ain so that it is now the culturally dynamic centre of the world.

“I pay tribute here to the Windrush women in particular, and their own bravery and ingenuity that I witnessed first-hand."

Thompson is an English composer, conductor and violinist of Jamaican descent. Her output as a composer encompasses acclaimed symphonies, ballets, operas, concertos and works for ensembles, as well as music for TV, film, and theatre.

With her New Nation Rising: A 21st Century Symphony, composed in 2002 and debuted in 2004, Thompson became the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony within the past 40 years.

Also an academic, she is currently Reader and Head of Composition and Performance at the University of Westminster.

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