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Community Music Whickham and Swalwell

Community Music is a registered charity in the heart of Tyneside set up with the aim of bringing music to the whole community. We provide access to music lessons and ensemble playing for young and old, offer instrument loan and organise various recitals and music events. 

The William Shield Festival returns to Tyneside after last year’s success, which saw nearly 1000 performers and listeners take part in twelve eye-catching events.


This year’s festival promises to be even more dynamic. It offers a cornucopia of delights designed to celebrate the life and times of this great, but often forgotten, local musician of yesteryear. 

William Shield is Tyneside’s neglected musical genius, and the Festival 2017 aims to bring him to a wider audience through a series of inspiring recitals, talks and other events during the first week of July.

William Shield was born in Swalwell in 1748. Following the death of his father he was apprenticed to a boat-builder until his musical talent was recognised and he was packed off for music lessons with the illustrious Mr Charles Avison, organist at Newcastle Cathedral.

He played in Charles Avison’s string band, but soon toured further afield, playing across Yorkshire. Following a move to London he never looked back, becoming a founder of the Covent Garden Opera house, and a firm friend of Kings George III and George 1V. He became Master of the King’s Music, a great honour.


When he died in 1829 he was buried in Westminster Abbey.


He was the Lloyd Webber of his age, and the main composer at the opera house. His most popular opera, Rosina, was set in Gibside. An engaging story, it contains many beautiful melodies, but the real talking point lies in the overture, which contains the melody to Auld Lang Syne.  The thought of a Geordie composing that particular melody is certainly controversial.



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