Change the world


Shawn Lyon

Shawn Lyon is our Alumni for September 2018

Shawn Lyon was born in San José, California, in 1964. His Father’s profession necessitated many relocations to various places around the world, including Canada, the UK, Scotland, Belgium, Taiwan and South Africa. At the age of 10 Shawn moved more permanently to SA, where he grew up in Cape Town, and attended Milnerton Primary and High Schools. For his first year after school, Shawn continued his interest in music while working two jobs as a Meat Wholesaler and a Chef. In 1983 he began his studies at the University of Port Elizabeth (now NMU), where he completed his B Mus (Musicology) Degree, as a student of the exceptional Brass Teacher and mentor, Sean Kierman, as well as academic promoter, Morne Bezuidenhout.


During his final year at university he also taught brass instruments at Alexander Road High School. Since 1997, he has been Director of Music and Conductor of Bands and Orchestra at Grey High School, Port Elizabeth, where he oversees an expansive music programme. For ten years prior to 1997, he was instrumental in the establishment and training of various bands at schools in Port Elizabeth, such as Alexander Road High, Erica, Collegiate Junior, KODUPE Music Centre and Victoria Park High. During his time at Grey High, the school’s music programme has expanded considerably, from an entity initially serving around 35 musicians to the present day 140. In his hands the Grey Orchestra has also become a permanent fixture, alongside the schools bands, which had been an unrealized dream of the school’s music founder, Robert Selley. His music programme regularly provides candidates for the National Youth Orchestra, the National Youth Wind Ensemble, and the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. His teaching practice has produced numerous successful musicians who play inter alia in the Cape Philharmonic, the South African Navy Band, and the current Bandmasters of Alexander Road High School, Victoria Park High School, Collegiate High School and Rhenish, are all past students of Shawn Lyon.


Shawn Lyon also serves on the Board of the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, and was instrumental in starting the Orchestra’s Education Outreach project 17 years ago, funded by National Lottery. He is a selector for The National Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Wind Ensemble, and he has served as an instructor for the NYO courses as well. He has also guest-conducted the Eastern Cape Youth Wind Band, as well as the All-Africa Band of the American International Schools. He has also recently adjudicated the Port Rex Eisteddfod.


Since the mid 1980’s, Shawn Lyon has had a protracted interest and involvement in musical theatre, both in the school and in the professional arena. Apart from the many shows in which he has performed, he has also taken the reins as Musical Director in productions such as “Annie Get Your Gun”, “The Sound of Music”, “Annie”, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat”, “Fame”, “Little Shop of Horrors”, “Guys and Dolls”, “Oklahoma”, “The King and I” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”. He has recently joined forces with other like- minded individuals to formally constitute a new musical theatre initiative called PETI, which seeks to re-ignite professional standard large-scale musicals in the Port Elizabeth area. The Annual Port Elizabeth Showtime Award for Theatre, which is conferred by the press corps for artistic merit and critical acclaim, has been won by Shawn Lyon on 11 occasions. Lyon has worked with exceptional Directors such as Robin Williams and the late David Matheson.


As a Trumpeter, who is occasionally also called upon to play Trombone, Saxophone and Percussion, Shawn Lyon remains at the forefront of performance in Port Elizabeth, and he has worked in various genres. He is in his 25th year occupying the Principal Trumpet Chair of the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, and serves on the ECPO audition panel. He also plays ad hoc for the Free State Orchestra as frequently as time allows. He is called upon at times to serve as an external practical examiner. He is also called upon for studio recording work, and is frequently part of productions that are assembled for large corporate entertainment events. He performs and tours with the Port Elizabeth based “Centrestage All-Star Band”. Shawn is a collector of special and unusual trumpets, many of which he plays when the occasion permits.


Shawn is married to Ruth, a fine music educator and an exceptional piano accompanist, who is also a graduate of NMU, and who also works in the Grey Music Department.