John Thomas Dodson was appointed Music Director of the Lexington Bach Festival in 2015. He is also Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Cleveland Women's Orchestra and Artistic Director of Conciertos de la Villa de Santo Domingo, a music festival in the Colonial City of the capital of the Dominican Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Dodson's recent performances included a collaboration between the Cleveland Opera and the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, a return engagement with the West Michigan Symphony Orchestra, and concerts leading Bach cantatas and concerti in Maryland’s historic St. Anne's Church with the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra. Upcoming performances with the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra include a concert in the Maltz Performing Arts Center in November and a return to Severance Hall with pianist Antonio Pampa-Baldi in April.
Dodson has conducted in major venues including New York's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Budapest's Hungarian State Opera House, Athens's Megaron Concert Hall, Rochester's Eastman Theatre and Cleveland's Severance Hall. His career has taken him to Europe and Asia as well as engagements in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. In addition to his current positions he previously served as Music Director for Birmingham Bloomfield Symphony Orchestra, Adrian Symphony Orchestra, Bryan Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra New York, Coronado Music Festival and the Philharmonia Orchestra of Tucson. In addition, he was Principal Conductor of Ballet Theatre of Toledo, cover conductor for the St. Louis Symphony and assistant conductor with Arizona Opera.
As a guest conductor Dodson led concerts with the Athens State Orchestra, Budapest Philharmonic, National Philharmonic of Russia, National Symphony Orchestra of Bashkortostan, National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic, Irkutzk Symphony Orchestra, Omsk State Academic Symphony Orchestra, Bialystok Philharmonic, Rochester Philharmonic, New Haven Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony Orchestra UANL in Monterrey, Mexico. His performances have been featured on a nationally syndicated program on Public Radio International and broadcast nationwide on National Public Radio stations as well as radio and television stations in Europe, Russia and North America.
Dodson has a longstanding commitment to contemporary music. He performed under the batons of leading composers Aaron Copland, Karel Husa and Vincent Persichetti, and studied composition with Robert Jager at Tennessee Technological University. He was invited to conduct at Lincoln Center’s “Persichetti Remembered” Retrospective and has collaborated with many living composers, leading over twenty-five world- premieres in the United States, Russia and Europe. Notable projects include conducting the world premiere of Theodore Antoniou’s Cello Concerto with renowned cellist Yannis Tsitselikis in Athens, Greece, and premiering and recording the orchestral works of Robert Jager with the Omsk Philharmonic, flautist Stephanie Winker and the St. Louis Children’s Choir for the Naxos label. Other contemporary music projects include premieres of music by Grammy Award-winning composer Kenneth Fuchs, collaborations with Bright Sheng and Michael Daugherty and co-commissioning a new work by Christopher Theofinidis.
In addition to his work as a musician, Dodson teaches Mindfulness for Performers. He has taken Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction courses at UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center and UMass Memorial Center for Mindfulness. Dodson was selected to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities program studying Buddhism in the Himalayas at the College of the Holy Cross with faculty from Holy Cross and Harvard University. After working with Buddhist teachers and attending numerous silent meditation retreats, he embarked on an extensive study of Vipassana meditation, eventually finding his way to Zen. Dodson now leads mindfulness retreats, seminars, and workshops internationally in colleges, schools, conservatories, wellness centers and international conferences, including sessions at Washington College, Oberlin College-Conservatory, the Dominican Republic's National Conservatory of Music and University of Pennsylvania Kutztown Summer Music Festival.
Dodson has given presentations to Conductor's Guild, the League of American Orchestras and Columbia University. He was recently invited to return as a featured speaker to The Creativity Conference where he gave presentations to creatives from around the world.
A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, John Thomas Dodson holds the degree of Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting from the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he studied under renowned conducting pedagogue Frederik Prausnitz. He continued his conducting training with Paul Vermel at the Aspen Music School, and was mentored by Ed Meyer, father of the bassist and Grammy Award-winning composer Edgar Meyer. Dodson is a recipient of the Lenawee Arts Award from the Croswell Opera House and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa from Siena Heights University.