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Dr Shirley Thompson graduated from the University of Hull with a first class BMus degree in 1987. She subsequently undertook a PGCE (at the then Birmingham Polytechnic), and thereafter spent three years as teacher-in-charge of Music at a Northamptonshire secondary school. Having won a British Academy Major Scholarship to return to study for a PhD at Hull, she was awarded her doctorate in 1998 for a thesis on the music of the seventeenth-century French composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier (‘The Autograph Manuscripts of Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Clues to Performance'). Following a five-year period as a Lecturer (then Senior Lecturer) in Music at the University of Wolverhampton, she moved in 2001 to Royal Birmingham Conservatoire where, after occupying a series of different roles, including Director of Postgraduate Studies in Music, she was appointed Vice Principal for Music in 2018 and Interim Principal in September 2020.
Shirley's research has continued to focus on French Baroque music and on Charpentier in particular. Her publications have included an edited book on Charpentier (Ashgate, 2010), a 700-page, two-volume critical edition of the composer’s motets (Centre de musique Baroque de Versailles, 2018) and a co-edited book on Rameau’s operas (Routledge, at press), along with numerous articles and book chapters. She has also prepared many performance editions of Charpentier's music, including music for two BBC Promenade Concerts, and has contributed as a reviewer (of books, recordings and scores) to a range of publications.
Shirley presents regularly at international conferences and has organized or co-organized several, including anniversary conferences for Charpentier (Birmingham, UK, 2004), Rameau (Oxford, UK, 2014) and Couperin (Birmingham, UK, 2018). She is an active member of the US-based Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, and has been Chair of both the Program Committee and the Nominating Committee. She is currently a member of the editorial board of the Society’s Journal for Seventeenth-Century Music.