Rea, William



English organist, pianist and conductor; born in London; was an organ pupil of Pittman, and acted as his assistant. In 1843 he became organist of Christ Church, and continued his musical study under Sterndale Bennett, taking piano and composition, and appearing in concert as a pianist. His next post as organist was at St. Andrew's, Undershaft, and in 1849 he went to Leipsic, where he studied under Moscheles and Richter, and later under Dreyschock at Prague. In 1853 he founded the Polyhymnian Choir, and proved an able and painstaking director of this and of an amateur orchestral society. In 1858 he became organist at St. Michael's, Stockwell, and two years later was appointed organist to the corporation of Newcastle-on-Tyne, where he held several consecutive church positions in addition, gave orchestral concerts, organ and piano recitals, and conducted various musical organizations. He also had Antigone performed in 1876 at the Theatre Royal, and up to 1897, or possibly later, conducted the Newcastle Amateur Vocal Society. In 1880 he became organist at St. Hilda's, South Shields. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Music from Durham in 1886, was elected honorary Fellow of the College of Organists, and in 1888 resigned his corporation appointment. His wife was a pianist of local importance, and assisted him in the work of raising the musical standard of Newcastle. He composed anthems, songs and organ-pieces.