During a career spanning almost three decades music by Dr Shirley J Thompson has been commissioned to write for contemporary ballet pieces. Thompson wrote the music for sacred mountain, incidents in the life of Queen Nanny of the maroons. The work premiered in the opening night of Tete a Tete the opera festival in 2015.
Thompson continues to be a prolific composer one of her groundbreaking operas The Woman Who Refused To Dance.
The opera portrays the courage of a historical character, the ‘unknown woman’ who refused to dance on a boat heading for the island of Grenada from Calabar (Nigeria) in 1792.
The ‘Unknown Woman’ was accused of insubordination by Captain Kimber. She was subsequently beaten and hung as punishment for her act of defiance, and as an example to the other enslaved people.
Her defiance was widely reported and William Wilberforce employed the case to argue for the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in Parliament.
Thompson serves as an elected member of the classical music executive for The British Academy of song writers, composers and authors.
I tend to write about how black people are treated negatively. It is great to have a positive woman who has successfully made her mark in music. Opera which incorporates black history fantastic.