Shirley J. Thompson’s Women of the Windrush to be honoured in unique performance at the University of Liverpool

A picture of the performance of the opera women of windrush

The University of Liverpool’s Tung Auditorium is hosting a compelling opera written by renowned composer Professor Shirley J. Thompson OBE to mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush this month.

On Friday 23 June at 7.30pm, Women of the Windrush: An Opera by Shirley J. Thompson will portray the inspirational narratives of a variety of women who travelled 7,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean by ship from the West Indies to live in the UK in the mid twentieth century.

Through mesmerising music and song, Women of the Windrush: An Opera by Shirley J. Thompson conceptualises an artistic work about the so-called Windrush generation with strong female roles.

A women seeking a room after arriving on the Windrush

In the opera, fascinating stories are told from a cricketer’s wife, a student nurse, a concert pianist and a new bride who all relate their experiences of arriving and settling in England, after being invited by the British government to assist in the rebuilding of post-war Britain.

The arrangement for soprano and piano will be performed by the English National Opera lyric soprano, Nadine Benjamin, and pianist Caroline JayaRatnam.

The opera is written by University of Liverpool alumna Professor Shirley J. Thompson OBE, one of the composers chosen by HM King Charles III to compose music for his Coronation Service.

Professor Thompson graduated with a BA in Musicology from the University of Liverpool in 1979 and is an extremely successful composer, artistic director, conductor, film-maker, writer, violinist, and cultural activist.

She has since retained strong links with the University, including writing a new piece for the opening of The Tung Auditorium and Yoko Ono Lennon Centre in March 2022, entitled One World, a re-imagination of, and homage to, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s song ‘Imagine.’

A picture of composer Shirley J Thompson OBE

Shirley J Thompson OBE

Professor Thompson said: “I am very excited about touring my opera, Women of the Windrush, to The Tung Auditorium, especially after the successful launch of the venue last year.

My formative years were spent in Liverpool as a student at the University of Liverpool so it’s great to return to this truly special city.”

Richard Hartwell, Artistic Director at The Tung Auditorium said: “We’re really pleased to be welcoming Shirley J. Thompson back to The Tung Auditorium.

“It’s great to be able to mark such an historic moment at our world-class concert hall and I’d urge everyone to book their tickets to Women of the Windrush: An Opera by Shirley J. Thompson as soon as possible.”

Listings information:

Women of the Windrush: An Opera by Shirley J. Thompson
Friday 23 June, 7.30pm
The Tung Auditorium, Yoko Ono Lennon Centre, University of Liverpool
Tickets £10 (concessions £8) plus booking fee.
Available via

You can listen to Shirley J. Thompson’s recent interview on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row here (from around 24 minutes in).