strength, that power, that spirituality. The insight, the incredible strategic ability that she had to conduct warfare without arms when the British militia was fully armed. I saw this as an opportunity to develop in the operatic canon one of our own. This was going to be possibly the first time in the European canon an opera that featured a person of African or Caribbean descent was shown in Europe.”
A former history teacher, Thompson said because the Caribbean story was often “written out” of European history, as soon as she got a chance as a composer to tell that story, she took it. The reality of life in the Caribbean was not well known in Europe because, “there’s a very particular depiction in the newspapers, on the radio, the television that perpetuates myths”.
Tony Kelly, Abigail’s father, informed me by email that in her first Jamaican concert in 2008, Abigail performed a suite of five Jamaican folk songs arranged by Peter Ashbourne “with a classical twist” at the opening of Dr Shirley J. Thompson answers questions about her opera ‘Sacred Mountain: Incidents in the Life of Queen Nanny of the Maroons’. the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) museum.
“Since then, those songs are a regular feature of her repertoire at recitals in England, Europe, South Africa, Cayman Islands and Montserrat, alongside the well-known [classical] arias, as that is part of her cultural roots and heritage,” he added.
Next Wednesday, Thompson is scheduled to be a keynote speaker for the BBC Diversity in Composition conference at the Royal Northern College of Music.
“I will posit the strong contribution of musician/ composers from Jamaica, the In my article on Sacred Mountain published in The Gleaner on September 14, I mistakenly termed the opera “unfinished”. What Dr Thompson had called “a work in progress” was the presentation at the School of Music, which was staged after only a week of rehearsals with dancers and musicians. She was not referring to the opera.
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