COMPOSER SHIRLEY J. THOMPSON HONOURS WINDRUSH WOMEN
‘Women of the Windrush Tell Their Stories’
22nd September 2018; 7pm; Kings Place
Nadine Benjamin – soprano; Rachel Duckett – soprano;
Zena Edwards – Mbira/Spoken Word
Gweneth Rand – soprano; Rebekah Reid – Violin & Electronics;
Carroll Thompson – Vocalist; Allyson Devenish – Piano Accompaniment
2018 commemorates the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush in 1948 at Tilbury Docks. Fresh from her music having been performed at the official Windrush commemoration service at Westminster Abbey earlier in the year, composer Shirley J. Thompson turns her attention here to Windrush women in particular with music composed in their honour to be performed as part of the Equator Festival’s ‘Women and Words’ event on 22nd September 2018 at 7pm at Kings Place, London.
Passengers from the West Indies arriving on the SS Windrush were seeking a new life in Great Britain and planning to help rebuild a broken nation in those bleak post-war years. Through instrumental music, spoken word and video, British-Jamaican composer and artistic director Shirley J Thompson, together with guest musicians and composers, will showcase narratives and memories that inspired them with a uniquely female perspective on the Windrush experience, featuring performances by an array of outstanding women artists themselves descended from the Windrush generation.
This multi-media event will showcase a unique mix of music, including classical, electronic, mbira and reggae together with a spoken word element, thus exemplifying the diverse culture of the Windrush communities. An integral part of the event will be the film ‘Memories in Mind: Women of the Windrush Tell Their Stories’, which originally inspired Shirley J. Thompson to stage this 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. The new compositions by the performer/composers reflect on these experiences. Psalm to Windrush: to the Brave & Ingenious by Shirley J. Thompson which was commissioned for the Windrush memorial service and premiered at Westminster Abbey has been specially arranged here for Soprano and opens the concert.
Between 1948 and 1973, some 524,000 people from the Commonwealth became residents in the UK and Caribbean people currently comprise 3% of Britain's population. Noted Thompson: “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 Britain 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”.
Shirley J. Thompson is an English composer, conductor and violinist of Jamaican descent. Her output as a composer encompasses 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.