John Thomas Dodson, Music Director
John Thomas Dodson was named as Music Director of the Lexington Bach Festival in 2015. In addition to his work with the Lexington Bach Festival, Dodson 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 was appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Cleveland Women's Orchestra beginning with the 2019 - 2020 season.
His performances this past season 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 several concerts leading Bach cantatas and concerti in the Bach Plus Series in the historic St. Anne's Church with the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra. Upcoming performances include Mascagni's L'Amico Fritz with the Cleveland Opera, Mozart's Requiem and Szymanowski's Stabat Mater, and a concert in Severance Hall.
Dodson has conducted in major venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Hungarian State Opera House, Athens Megaron Concert Hall, Eastman Theatre and Severance Hall.
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.
In addition to his current positions Dodson has previously served as Music Director for Birmingham Bloomfield Symphony Orchestra, Adrian Symphony Orchestra, Bryan Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra New York, Coronado Music Festival and Philharmonia Orchestra of Tucson.
In addition to his work as a musician, Dodson teaches Mindfulness. He was selected to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities program, studying Buddhism in the Himalayas at Holy Cross University 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. Years later Dodson founded Blue Heron Mindfulness Living as a means of helping others to address contemporary life issues in context of ancient mindfulness traditions and contemporary mindfulness research. Dodson now leads mindfulness retreats, seminars, and workshops internationally in colleges, schools, conservatories, wellness centers and international conferences. Recent mindfulness sessions at Washington College, Oberlin College-Conservatory and at the Dominican Republic's National Conservatory of Music.
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 received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa from Siena Heights University in 2016.