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Stars attend world premiere of Windrush Opera

PICTURED: Opera composer Shirley J Thompson (2nd right) with His Excellency Seth Ramocan and his wife Dr Lola Ramocan (far right), together with Baroness Floella Benjamin (Photo credit: Keith Taylor)

THE WORLD premiere of Women of the Windrush by acclaimed composer Shirley J Thompson’s took place this week and was attended by the Jamaica High Commissioner, His Excellency Seth Ramocan and his wife Dr Lola Ramocan on July 28 at the at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art as part of the Tête à tête Festival.

Thompson was originally commissioned by the Windrush Commemoration Committee to compose music for a special service held on June 22, 2018 at Westminster Abbey to mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of MV Empire Windrush in 1948.

The service also featured her work Psalm to Windrush based on Psalm 84, from both of which she has developed her new opera, which starred singer Nadine Benjamin, winner of the Voice of Black Opera award and the Verdi prize, currently singing with English National Opera.

The full title of her opera is Memories in Mind: Women of the Windrush tell their stories and integrates music developed from Psalm to Windrush with stories of many of the women who braved the journey and settled here, as documented in an award-winning film made by the composer.

Others present at the premiere were Baroness Floella Benjamin and her husband Keith and Head of Music at the South Bank Gillian Moore and trumpeter Bruce Nockles, together with Sharon Watson from Phoenix Dance.

Taking to Twitter following the performance, Baroness Floella Benjamin said: “Congrats darling Shirley on creating the moving operatic #Windrush Women Stories ⁦
@NadinBenjamin⁩ singing was fantastic as usual.”

Another attendee tweeted:“Transfixed by the exquisite voice of soprano Nadine Benjamin in her performance of @shirleyjtmusic operatic work capturing the experiences of women of the #Windrush generation who came to Britain from the Caribbean after the 2nd World War.”

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