John C. O'Donnell, Professor Emeritus
(Retired Professor of Music, St. Francis Xavier University)
65 Mahoney's Beach Road, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. B2G 2L2
Telephone: (902) 863-1426 E-mail: email@example.com
Brief Professional Biography
John C. O'Donnell is Professor Emeritus and former chair of the Department of Music at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. He retired from active teaching in September 2000. Professor O'Donnell holds degrees in music from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and the University of London (England) Kings College.
For most of the past forty years "Jack" O'Donnell has been involved as musical director of Cape Breton's acclaimed coal miners' choir, The Men of the Deeps. Under his leadership the choir has produced four long-play record albums and four compact disks, the latest being Their Lights Will Shine which was released in the fall of 2004. The choir has performed live and on television throughout much of North America.
For much of the past 30 years the choir has toured extensively throughout North America earning a reputation for preserving in song the rich folklore of the mining communities of Nova Scotia. In 1976 he was responsible for arranging a concert tour of the People's Republic of China. This marked the first time for a Canadian cultural ensemble to visit mainland China following the renewal of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1972. And in 1000, at the request of the Canadian Government, the choir accompanied British actress Vanessa Redgrave to Kosovo in the former republic of Yugoslavia where they joined many renowned world entertainers in welcoming back to their homeland the displaced refugees of that troubled province.
Professor O'Donnell has published widely on the subject of coal mining songs in Canada and in 1992 completed an anthology of such songs, And Now The Fields Are Green: A Collection of Coal Mining Songs in Canada (Sydney, Nova Scotia. University College of Cape Breton Press, 1992).
In 1983 his accomplishments were honoured by the Federal Government when he was made a member of the Order of Canada. In 1992 his work was recognized again with the conferring of the "Commemorative Medal" marking the 125th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada; most recently he was honoured with Her Majesty the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal. And in recognition of his contributions to the cultural mosaic of Cape Breton Island, Cape Breton University awarded him the honorary degree Doctor of Letters at its convocation in May 1993. In May, 2000, Cape Breton University bestowed the same honour on the entire choir.
Many of Jack O'Donnell's choral arrangements for The Men of the Deeps are available for purchase. More information is available here.