Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dido Elizabeth Belle - An Opera by Shirley J. Thompson - 20 June at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Obama -100 Days - Conducting CU
Dr Shirley J Thompson is of Jamaican parentage. She is the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony in the last 40 years.
Thank you for this info Donette ChinLoy Chang!
 The composer Shirley J. Thompson is widely celebrated for her pioneering, eclectic and original writing style having composed numerous scores for opera, orchestra, contemporary dance, TV and Film. Her largest orchestral work, 'New Nation Rising, A 21st Century Symphony' (SP001, 2004) is a ground-breaking work, that employs the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with two choirs, solo singers, a rapper and dhol drummers in an epic musical story celebrating London's thousand-year history. She is the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony in the last 40 years.
An aficionado of dance, Shirley Thompson co-scored the multi-award-winning Sadler's Wells contemporary ballet production, PUSH that has toured worldwide including performances at City Center, New York and the London Coliseum.
Her orchestral work, Spirit of the Middle Passage for Solo Singers, Speaker and Orchestra, premiered with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the QEH and Voices of Change:100 days of Barack Obama, with the Shirley Thompson Ensemble, comprising solo voices, instrumental ensemble and video projection was premiered in the Purcell Room. Music for the theatrical stage includes The Lodger (Theatre Royal, Stratford East) and her 2-Act opera, A Child of the Jago (Purcell Room).


  • Pot 1, University of Westminster
  • Arts Council of England
  • Newham Council, Department of Culture
  • South Bank Centre

Message from Shirley J. Thompson:

Dear Friend,

Hope all is well and that you can make it to see a preview of my opera, Dido Elizabeth Belle at the Victoria and Albert Museum on 20 June.

Please see details following and look forward to seeing you there!

Kind regards,

Dido E. Belle at Kenwood House wirh her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray

Dido Elizabeth Belle (Lindsay) with her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray

in a painting attributed to Johann Zoffany (1779)

Dido Elizabeth Belle

An Opera by Shirley J. Thompson

Abigail Kelly – Soprano,  plays Dido E. Belle

Introduction to Dido Elizabeth Belle

In 2006 Shirley J. Thompson was commissioned to commemorate the 250 year anniversary of the Act of Abolition of the trade in enslaved African persons that was made law in 1807. With a very wide brief, she researched extensively and decided to represent the three continents involved in the trans-Atlantic trade by featuring three iconic women during the period in history. She thereby created an operatic trilogy featuring The Woman Who Refused to Dance (Africa), Queen Nanny of the Maroons (the West Indies) and after coming across the enchanting painting at Kenwood House attributed to Johann Zoffany (1779), Dido Elizabeth Belle. Intrigued by the painting, Thompson aimed to portray the enigmatic nature of her subject, alluding to her suspected double life as an Abolitionist on the streets of London in the early 19th century. 

V&A South Kensington

Cromwell Road

London SW7 2RL

Please book at link

Dr Shirley J. Thompson FRSA
Music & Sound Design -

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