John Thomas Dodson, Music Director
John Thomas Dodson was named as Music Director of the Lexington Bach Festival in 2015. In addition he serves as 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. He became Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Cleveland Women's Orchestra in 2019 as the orchestra conducted a search for its next music director. During his three years with the CWO he led concerts at Severance Hall and the Maltz Performing Arts Center and conducted Puccini's Manon Lescaut with the Cleveland Opera.
In addition to his work as a musician, Dodson teaches Mindfulness for Performers. He was selected for a National Endowment for the Humanities program studying Buddhist Traditions in the Himalayas at Holy Cross University with faculty from The College of the Holy Cross and Harvard University. Dodson leads mindfulness retreats, seminars, and workshops in colleges, schools, conservatories, including Washington College, Oberlin College-Conservatory and at the Dominican Republic's National Conservatory of Music.
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 he has 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 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 and numerous radio and television broadcasts in Europe, Russian 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 for five years 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 in Athens, Greece, and premiering and recording the orchestral works of Robert Jager 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.
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 in strings by Ed Meyer, father of the bassist and Grammy Award-winning composer Edgar Meyer. A recipient of the Lenawee Arts Award from the Croswell Opera House, Dodson also received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa from Siena Heights University.