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LBU Focus on African Influence on Classical Music

Category: Industry News

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Musical composer Dr Shirley J. Thompson dedicated this year’s Annual Race lecture to discussing the often unrecognised African influence in the development of classical music.

Dr Thompson, who in 2004 became the first woman in 40 years to compose and conduct a symphony, spoke for 90 minutes to an audience at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday 17 October as part of an evening that included music and a Q&A session.

The lecture was organised by the Race Equality and Diversity Forum and is one of a number of events and activities taking place across the university during October for Black History Month.

Although classical music is regarded as being from purely European origins, the role of the African in its foundation and development is largely under acknowledged.

During her lecture, Dr Thompson explored this link, using her own experience and insights she had picked up from over 30 years of working in music.

A winner of the UWI award for Luminary Award to culture, she has also been commissioned for several royal engagements and is listed in the top ten of the Power List of Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People.

Dr Thomas Fletcher, co-chair of the Race Equality and Diversity Forum, said: “We were absolutely delighted that Shirley accepted our invitation to deliver the lecture this year.

“Her presentation was deeply personal; tracing how her love for classical music developed within a context where people from a Black and minoritised ethnic background did not traditionally go into this field.

“Feedback from attendees has been extremely positive and shows a clear appreciation for diversity of speakers the lecture has given voice to in recent years.”

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