Jerry Shea

Shea, Jerry (Jeremiah James). Violinist, conductor, b Montreal 5 Feb 1884, d there 18 Oct 1960. After studies in Montreal with Jean Goulet and in New York, he toured US theatres with a string quartet at 16.

Shea, Jerry

Shea, Jerry (Jeremiah James). Violinist, conductor, b Montreal 5 Feb 1884, d there 18 Oct 1960. After studies in Montreal with Jean Goulet and in New York, he toured US theatres with a string quartet at 16. Though he was successful in the USA as music director 1904-6 for the Klaw and Erlinger (New York) company's touring production of the opera Ben Hur and conductor of the Chicago Concert Orchestra, Shea chose to return to Montreal in 1906. He spent the rest of his professional life there except for a tour 1930-1 with Harry Lauder. In Montreal he conducted orchestras for silent films, vaudeville, and opera at the major theatres and for broadcasts on CKAC, CFCF, and CBC radio.

He conducted the premieres 16 Nov 1913 of Alexis Contant'sLes Deux Âmes and L'Aurore. At the Imperial Theatre 1914-15 he initiated and conducted Sunday concerts of classical music by a 50-piece orchestra (a forerunner of the MSO). He was also music director of Adanac Films, an early Canadian company, and organized entertainment for the St Lawrence cruises of the Canada Steamship Lines. In 1930, when talking pictures had caused widespread unemployment among theatre orchestra musicians, Shea founded the Canadian Musicians Benevolent and Educational Association and was its first president. He conducted The Mikado in 1952 and The Gondoliers in 1953 for the Montreal Festivals. His papers were donated to the NL of C by his son D'Arcy in 1977.