American conductor, John Thomas Dodson is Music Director of the Lexington Bach Festival and Conciertos de la Villa de Santo Domingo, a music festival in the Colonial City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the capital of the Dominican Republic. He was recently appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Cleveland Women's Orchestra. In November of 2019 Dodson will conduct Puccini's Manon Lescaut with the Cleveland Opera, and he will return to Severance Hall to celebrate the Cleveland Women's Orchestra's 85th Anniversary season in 2020. Previously he 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.

Photo: Roger Mastroianni.

Active as a guest conductor, John Thomas Dodson will return this season to conduct the West Michigan Symphony Orchestra. Dodson has guest conducted extensively in North America and Europe, leading concerts with the Athens State Orchestra, Budapest Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic, Bialystok Philharmonic, Rochester Philharmonic, New Haven Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra UANL in Monterrey, Mexico. In Russia, Dodson has led the National Philharmonic of Russia, National Symphony Orchestra of Bashkortostan, Irkutzk Symphony Orchestra, and the Omsk State Academic Symphony Orchestra.


Dodson 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 recording the orchestral music of Robert Jager for the Naxos label. Other contemporary music projects include a two-year collaboration with Kenneth Fuchs as the Adrian Symphony Orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence and co-commissioning a new work by Christopher Theofinidis.


A graduate of Johns Hopkins University 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 conducting studies with Paul Vermel at the Aspen Music School, and studied composition with Robert Jager. 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.


In the past decade Dodson was selected to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities summer program, studying Buddhism in the Himalayas at Holy Cross University with faculty from Holy Cross and Harvard University. After subsequent years working with Buddhist coaches, he attended numerous silent meditation retreats and embarked on an extensive study of Vipassana meditation. Years later he began giving mindfulness seminars and founded Blue Heron Mindfulness Living as a means of helping others to address contemporary life issues in a context of ancient mindfulness traditions. In addition to his work as a professional musician, Dodson now leads workshops internationally in schools, conservatories and wellness centers on subjects ranging from dealing with emotions and attachments to mindfulness-based approaches for the performing arts.

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© 2016 John Thomas Dodson