Shirley J. Thompson OBE is a British contemporary classical composer, artistic director, and academic, as well as a known trailblazer and cultural activist.
In 2004, she became the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony within the past 40 years - New Nation Rising, performed and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2019, she was awarded an OBE for her services to music, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 Black British Theatre Awards.
She was recently appointed Professor of Music at the University of Westminster, and featured as one of the changemakers in The Guardian's 2,000-year history poster of critical events & activists. Dr Thompson has been named in the Evening Standard’s ‘Power List of Britain’s Top 100 Most Influential Black People’ from 2010 to 2020.
Thompson is known for using classical music to question the status quo, transform established narratives, and change the representation of persons of visibly African heritage in history, with works such as The Woman Who Refused to Dance and Memories in Mind: Women of the Windrush Tell Their Stories.