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John Thomas Dodson, Conductor

American conductor, John Thomas Dodson’s concerts have been described as "phenomenal," with the press noting his "clear and communicative leadership on the podium" and describing his interpretations as displaying “jubilant intensity and great clarity.” Renowned conductor Iván Fischer called him "a fine musician and a very good conductor," and legendary French musician, Philippe Entremont described his conducting as "remarkable, sensitive, very precise. Making music together was all that mattered." Kurt Nikkanen, concertmaster of the New York City Ballet Orchestra at Lincoln Center called him, "one of the finest musicians I have encountered in the course of my musical career."

Dodson serves as Artistic Director of Conciertos de la Villa de Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and Music Director of the Lexington Bach Festival in Southeast Michigan.

Dodson has conducted in renowned venues in North America and Europe, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Budapest’s Hungarian State Opera House, Athens's Megaron Concert Hall, Rochester’s Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Denver's Boettcher Concert Hall, and Cleveland's Severance Hall. As a guest conductor he led concerts with the Athens State Orchestra, Bialystok Philharmonic, Budapest Philharmonic, Irkutzk Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Bashkortostan, National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic, National Philharmonic of Russia, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Omsk State Academic Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, and Symphony Orchestra UANL of Monterrey, Mexico. In the field of opera, Dodson has conducted in collaborative productions with Yale Opera and New Haven Symphony Orchestra and with Cleveland Opera and the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra. His work in dance includes serving for three seasons as Principal Conductor of Ballet Theatre of Toledo.

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Photo: Roger Mastroianni

John Thomas Dodson has a rich and varied relationship with new music. He performed under the batons of eminent composers including Aaron Copland, Karel Husa and Vincent Persichetti, and was later invited to conduct at the Persichetti Remembered concert in Lincoln Center. He was honored to conduct the world premiere of Theodore Antoniou’s Cello Concerto with Yannis Tsitselikis in Athens, Greece and to record the orchestral music of Robert Jager with the Omsk Philharmonic in Russia for the Naxos label. American contemporary music projects include initiating a collaboration between the Adrian Symphony Orchestra and Grammy Award-winning composer, Kenneth Fuchs, which resulted in the world-premieres of numerous works that were later recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra. Dodson was one of three conductors who co-commissioned Virtue, a new work by Christopher Theofinidis, and he led two of its three season-premiere performances. Other contemporary music highlights include leading the world-premiere of Kino Sago Symphony by Belgian-American composer Camil van Hulse and collaborating with world-renowned composers Bright Sheng and Michael Daugherty. During his career Dodson has commissioned numerous works for orchestra and conducted more than twenty-five world premieres in North American, Europe and Russia.  


John Thomas Dodson is one of a small number of musicians to be honored by the Budapest Philharmonic through inclusion in the orchestra's "Golden Book.” He is a recipient of the Lenawee Arts Award from the Croswell Opera House, the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Sally Parker Education Award, Tennessee Technological University's Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, and Adrian College’s Newsom Award for Excellence in Teaching.  In recognition of his commitment to building vibrant arts communities he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Siena Heights University.


Always interested in developing young musicians, Dodson taught on the faculty of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts and conducted numerous music festivals including Sewanee Summer Music Festival, the Oklahoma Festival for the Arts, and the Colorado Symphony Summer Training Program. While at the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra, he created an internship program for young conductors working with emerging conductors from Oberlin College-Conservatory of Music and Cleveland Institute of Music. In the Dominican Republic, he has worked with the El Sistema program and conducted the National Youth Orchestra and the National Conservatory of Music’s Symphony Orchestra. Dodson conducted the Colorado All-State Orchestra at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado and the MEGARO Youth Symphony Orchestra in Thessaloniki, Greece in 2023 as well as serving as Principal Guest Conductor of the Atlanta Community Orchestra.


John Thomas Dodson has previously held the positions of Principal Conductor of the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra and Music Director of Birmingham-Bloomfield Symphony Orchestra, Adrian Symphony Orchestra, Bryan Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra New York, Coronado Music Festival and Philharmonia Orchestra of Tucson.


A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, John Thomas Dodson holds a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where he studied under renowned conducting pedagogue Frederik Prausnitz. He continued his studies as a Conducting Fellow at the Aspen Music School with Paul Vermel. Previously, Dodson studied composition at Tennessee Technological University with Robert Jager and was mentored in strings by Francis Elliott, a student of Arturo Toscanini’s concertmaster Mischa Mischakoff, and by Ed Meyer, father of the Grammy Award-winning composer and virtuoso bassist, Edgar Meyer.


In the past decade Dodson has become increasingly interested in the practice of mindfulness as it applies to performers. He now leads mindfulness seminars, and workshops in colleges, schools, colleges and conservatories, including sessions in Greece at the Thessaloniki State Conservatory of Music, in the the Dominican Republic at the National Conservatory of Music, and in the United States at Washington College, Oberlin College-Conservatory, University of Pennsylvania Kutztown Summer Music Festival and Chopin Academy of Atlanta.

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