Filomena Campus is a jazz singer, composer, lyricist, academic and theatre director, who was born in Sardinia and since 2001 has been based in London, England. Her performance style characteristically fuses jazz, theatre and literature, and she is the founder of the company Theatralia, curating the annual Theatralia Jazz Festival in collaboration with the PizzaExpress Jazz Club in Soho, with the aim of uniting British and Italian styles.
Filomena Campus was born on the Italian island of Sardinia. She earned a degree in English literature from the University of Cagliari, where as a student she started singing and performing. In Cagliari she performed and directed A Game of Chess, a project inspired by the work of Samuel Beckett, James Joyce and T. S. Eliot that was her first experiment in combining live jazz with theatre, in 2001. That year, she relocated to England to study for a master's degree in theatre directing at Goldsmiths, University of London.
In 2003 she founded the company Theatralia, described as "an international collective of performers and artists whose works combine literature, physical theatre, performance art, digital art with live music and audience participation".
She has performed as a vocalist with leading musicians, including Paolo Fresu, Evan Parker, Guy Barker, Orphy Robinson, Huw Warren, Byron Wallen, Cleveland Watkiss, Jean Toussaint, Kenny Wheeler, Antonio Forcione, and Tony Kofi, and has appeared at several international festivals, as well as on radio. Her voice has been described as having a "huge range of truly improvised vocal sounds", and Cleveland Watkiss has called her "one of the most adventurous young female singers/performers/composers based in the UK".
She has also taught and lectured in theatre, improvisation, voice and related studies at educational institutions such as Central School of Speech and Drama, East 15 Acting School, University of Essex, Kingston University, and University College London.
In 2009 Campus was awarded the Italian Premio Maria Carta and in 2015 the Premio Navicella. In 2010 she formed the Filomena Campus Quartet, with Steve Lodder on piano, Dudley Phillips on bass and Rod Youngs on drums, with projects including Jester of Jazz (featuring Jean Toussaint and Rowland Sutherland on a 2011 recording), Scaramouche (2015, with Giorgio Serci and Kenny Wheeler) and Queen Mab.
Theatralia Jazz Festival
In 2013, Campus founded the Theatralia Jazz Festival – which was originally known as "My Jazz Islands" – which brings together music and theatre from British and Italian musicians and writers, with the production Italy VS England produced in both Cagliari and London. In 2018 the theme of the festival was "Sardinian Extravaganza", a jazz bridge with the town of Alghero in Sardinia. In 2019 and 2020 the bridge will be between London and Rome. She has said: "Years ago I left my island for another island, that welcomed me and helped me to make many dreams come true. In a moment where everyone seems to draw up walls, I aim to build a bridge between our two countries. A bridge made of jazz notes, theatre and masks, musical encounters enriched by the magic words of great poetry."
Campus adapted and directed Stefano Benni's Misterioso, A Journey into the Silence of Thelonious Monk (2005) as a theatre production featuring the music of Thelonious Monk, staging the show at the Edinburgh Festival in 2008, the Riverside Studios in 2009, and at a variety of venues in the following years, including as part of the Theatralia Jazz Festival.
In 2017 an Arts Council England-sponsored international Monk Misterioso Tour was launched at the British Library in October, culminating with a new dramatised production of Misterioso: A Journey into the Silence of Thelonious Monk at Kings Place that closed the London Jazz Festival's celebration of the centenary of Monk's birth, and featured Campus alongside Cleveland Watkiss, Pat Thomas, Rowland Sutherland, Orphy Robinson, Dudley Phillips and Mark Mondesir. Reviewing this sold-out performance for Jazz in Europe, Erminia Yardley wrote: "With a mixture of theatrical panache and sheer talent, they all produced a show that raised the bar. The beauty and innovation of the production filled every note and words spoken and sung on the night. Brilliant!"
- "Filomena Campus", Isola Delle Storie, 2 July 2014.
- "Meet the Artist……Filomena Campus", The Cross-Eyed Pianist, 29 October 2015.
- Theatralia Jazz Festival at Filomena Campus website.
- "Thelonious Monk", Black History Month 2017.
- "Filomena Campus", Theatralia website.
- Michael J. Edwards, "Filomena Campus" (interview), UK Vibe, 2015.
- "About Filomena", Filomena Campus website.
- "Filomena Campus", All About Jazz.
- "Filomena Campus", Nicky Thomas Media.
- "Filomena Campus".
- "Cleveland Watkiss and Filomena Campus", BBC Essex, 24 October 2017.
- Alison Bentley, "REVIEW: Filomena Campus/ Paolo Fresu/ Orphy Robinson / Giorgio Serci - My Jazz Islands Festival at Pizza Express Jazz Club", London Jazz News, 12 November 2014.
- "Monk Misterioso: A journey into the silence of Thelonious Monk".
- Ottavia Zanetta, "An Italian Touch at London Jazz Festival", The It Factor Magazine, 9 November 2016.
- "Theatralia Jazz Festival comes to London's Pizza Express", Jazz FM, 28 October 2015.
- "Soho's PizzaExpress Jazz Club hosts the third annual Theatralia Jazz Festival curated by Filomena Campus", Press release.
- Erminia Yardley, "Filomena Campus – Expect the Unexpected!", Jazz in Europe, 28 October 2017.
- Peter Quinn, "Filomena Campus’ spellbinding Monk homage at Theatralia Jazz Fest", Jazzwise, 27 November 2015.
- "Monk Misterioso".
- "MONK MISTERIOSO – a journey into the silence of Thelonious Monk" at Serious.
- "London jazz festival: this year's must-see gigs", The Guardian, 9 November 2017.
- Erminia Yardley, "Magical gig by Filomena Campus et al - the perfect conclusion to the EFG London Jazz Festival", Jazz in Europe, 28 November 2017.