John Connell

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John Connell. (1891-1955) Musician, producer, conductor


He was Organist and Director of music for the Johannesburg City Council and Johannesburg’s first City Organist since 1916. A noted musical director in later years. He retired in 1950.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

In the 1930s, John Connell negotiated with the city council of Johannesburg over the necessity for a permanent professional orchestra, called the African Broadcasting Company (ABC) Symphony Orchestra. In September 1933, Connell started a subscription series of ten weekly symphony concerts. He also regularly invited guest conductors and assembled players and ensembles for his symphony series.

He helped found the National Opera Company, Johannesburg Philharmonic Society, and the Johannesburg Operatic and Dramatic Society (JODS). He presented seasons of up to eight operas in the City Hall in the 1940’s. He was invited by African Theatres in 1941 to present his operas, such as Tosca, at the Empire Theatre.

He also campaigned seriously for the establishment of a state sponsored national theatre and performing arts sponsorship, along with P.P.B. Breytenbach, Myles Bourke and others.

As conductor and director


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