Shirley J. Thompson Seizes Opportunities to Succeed
Dr. Shirley J Thompson is a force of nature and determined to maximize every opportunity to accomplish her work as a composer, conductor, academic, teacher, artistic director, filmmaker and violinist.
A Reader in Music at the University of Westminster and a freelance composer of music for TV, films, the theatre, ballet and concert music, she is the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony in the last 40 years, and the first woman to compose and musically direct music for a major drama series at the BBC.
New Nation Rising, A 21st Century Symphony performed and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is an epic musical story celebrating London’s thousand-year history, and one in which the RPO is accompanied by two choirs, solo singers, a rapper and dhol drummers, a total of nearly 200 performers.
Born in England, of Jamaican descent, her journey to these milestones was riddled with challenges but she overcame them, buttressed by the strong support of her parents.
Success for her means feeling that she is doing the best that she can do and being the best that she can be. When that is accomplished, she is happy. “I think it’s about excellence. As long as I feel that I have, in any particular situation, whether I have a few crumbs or several thousand pounds, I’ve done my best. I’m only demanding of myself. “
Thompson says it is advantageous to think positively and describes herself as a glass three-quarters full person.
“I see what my parents and ancestors have accomplished before me and think if they can achieve so much with very little, I need to make the most of any opportunity, as they didn’t have them. For me, it’s a lot about optimizing opportunities and finding opportunities, excavating opportunities and then making the most of those opportunities.”