- LAHRI Postdoctoral Research Fellow
I began my musical studies with cello lessons provided by Julia Watson of Gateshead Schools’ Music Service, and achieved an ABRSM Gold Award, Marguerite Swan Award and DipABRSM in Cello Performance before leaving school. I studied cello and baroque cello with Myra Chahin and Alison McGillivray at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama (now Royal Conservatoire Scotland) from 2001-2005, and from 2006-2010 at TrinityLaban Conservatoire with Susan Sheppard, Joseph Crouch and David Kenedy. My Masters thesis explored spiritual elements in the practice of Christian professional musicians, and I also undertook practical research into historically-informed chordal techniques of figured bass realisation on the cello. As a freelance performer I specialised in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century chamber music and sacred music with ensembles including Due Corde, Akenside Players, Concentus VII, whose debut album of Italian baroque sonatas and cantatas was featured on BBC Radio 3, and Dei Gratia.
I completed my PhD in Music at Leeds in May 2023. My thesis investigated the under-researched early life of Tyneside-born composer William Shield (1748-1829), and explored the musicological, cultural and political implications of his adaptation and imitation of traditional 'national airs' in songs and theatre music. My research uncovered previously unknown details of Shield’s family background, professional and social networks and compositional influences, offering new perspectives on how his works reflect contemporary perceptions of national and regional identity.
I have presented papers on Shield’s life and works at seminars, symposia and conferences of the Universities of Leeds, Newcastle and Durham, the North East Forum for Eighteenth Century and Romantic Studies, Institute for Historical Research, York Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, English Folk Dance and Song Society, Royal Musical Association / British Forum for Ethnomusicology, and International Society for Eighteenth Century Studies. I have also given performances and lectures based on my research as part of the William Shield Festival (Newcastle/Gateshead), the University of Leeds Clothworkers’ International Concert Series and Treasures Gallery events programme, Headingley Festival of Ideas, and Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering.
In 2016 my original archival research led to a report for Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society on ‘William Shield in Whitby: insights from a collection of Georgian playbills’, while in 2019 I authored a post for the Romantic National Song Network blog, entitled ‘What makes a song national? William Shield and Thomas Holcroft’s “Down the bourn and thro’ the mead”, alias “Johnny and Mary: A favourite Scots song”. My article ‘William Shield: a Lifelong Relationship with ‘National Airs’’ appeared in Folk Music Journal in 2020, and I was invited to contribute a chapter on ‘William Shield’s A Collection of Favourite Songs, c.1775’ to the essay collection Music in North-East England 1500-1800 (Boydell & Brewer, 2020). A podcast interview on William Shield’s Tyneside origins, recorded on location in his birthplace by Flooded Cellar Productions, is due to be released on Biographicon in September 2023.
Being awarded an LAHRI Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2023/24 will allow me to pursue a new project tracing the career of my own great-great-grandfather, Birmingham-born percussionist Teddy King, who toured around Britain with travelling menagerie bands in the 1890s, and was married in Leeds in 1893. Using primary sources including a unique logbook and physical artefacts held in my family, alongside census records, newspaper archives, memoirs and ephemera held in the Brotherton Library Special Collections (Leeds) and National Fairground Archive (Sheffield), I aim to develop scholarly publications and educational resources illuminating the working conditions, roles, skills and repertoire of Victorian circus musicians.
Recording the Biographicon podcast with host Declan McCormack beside William Shield memorial, Whickham; photo credit Sue Price, Flooded Cellar productions.
I have also been awarded the 2023/24 BSECS/Northumbria Fellowship, to research history and culture of the North East of England and Scottish Borders during the long eighteenth-century. I will be resident in Newcastle-upon-Tyne from February-April 2024, exploring local archives to extend my research on William Shield’s links with local traditional musicians and the absorption of his compositions into traditional repertoire, and investigating how manuscript tune collections can be understood as a form of life writing.
Alongside current research, I am working on proposals for a scholarly biography of Shield and a historically-informed scholarly edition of his string chamber music. I am also pursuing further fellowship applications to develop my analysis of Shield’s theatre compositions, and my research into national and international transmission of melodies from theatrical performance into oral traditions and domestic music-making.
Hand cymbals, drumsticks and top hat belonging to circus drummer Teddy King; family archive.
Teaching and educational outreach
My undergraduate and Masters degrees included training as an instrumental teacher and community music practitioner. I have over twenty years’ experience of teaching instrumental practice, musicianship, ensemble skills, music theory and history, having taught privately, in schools and Saturday centres, on holiday programmes and summer schools, and delivered workshops, for organisations including RSAMD Youthworks Strings Programme, Barking & Dagenham Community Music Service, Lewisham Music Service, Borough Music School, the Historically Informed Summer School, North East Early Music Forum, and ArtForms Leeds.
During my time at the University of Leeds I have further developed my pedagogical practice by delivering and assessing undergraduate modules including Harmony, Early Music Ensemble Performance, and Music in History and Culture, and was awarded Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2020. I have also informally mentored undergraduate music students, and given talks on performing sacred music and coping with injury as a performer, through the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship.
I am passionate about widening access to higher education, and developing effective and inclusive practices to support students from underrepresented backgrounds to achieve success, at and beyond university. During my residency in Newcastle in 2024 I hope to deliver university-style tutorials in local schools for the Brilliant Club, and to develop public engagement activities based on my research through associations with Museums Northumberland, Tyne & Wear Archives, Sunderland Local Studies Library and Community Music Whickham & Swalwell.
Teddy in municipal band uniform on Bournemouth Pier, c. 1930; family archive.
I received grants towards my PhD research from the Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust, the Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust and the Yorkshire Ladies' Council for Education, and was the recipient of a Louise Dyer Award from Musica Britannica in 2016. My involvement in the William Shield Festival has previously been sponsored by the Land of Oak and Iron and North of England Musical Tournament Trust. I was awarded grants towards my Masters studies, purchase of period bows and attendance at Dartington International Summer School from the Dewar Arts Awards, Leverhulme Trust, Pauline Holden Award, Matthew Hodder Trust, Reid Trust for the Education of Women, Kathleen Trust, Newby Trust, Finzi Trust, Earmark Trust and Hilda Martindale Trust.