headshot of John Dodson; smiling older man with bright blue eyesJohn Thomas Dodson is an American orchestral conductor known for his rich musical interpretations and visionary programming. In addition to conducting traditional concerts, he has sought to bring music to new audiences using unexpected settings, from a sports bar in Detroit, a ski slope in a national forest, or a 16th Century historic chapel at a UNESCO World Heritage site.

As the Music Director of the Lexington Bach Festival since 2015, Dodson has embraced this annual celebration of the enduring legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach by inviting extraordinary musicians to perform and programming a diverse repertoire spanning Purcell and Piazzolla. Under Dodson’s artistic direction, the Lexington Bach Festival Orchestra has collaborated with renowned guest artists such as New York Ballet Orchestra concertmaster, Kurt Nikkanen, the award-winning Greek pianist, Maria Asteriadou, Grammy-nominated violinist Caroline Goulding, Baroque vocal specialist Josefien Stoppelenburg, flautist Amy Porter, and acclaimed German pianist Andreas Klein. The festival has also showcased recitals of celebrated artists from across the nation, including faculty members Aaron Berofsky and Joseph Gascho from the University of Michigan School of Music, Alan Choo, the concertmaster and Assistant Artistic Director of Apollo’s Fire, Leah Crocetto, a vocal star of the Metropolitan Opera, the award-winning quintet Axiom Brass, esteemed Baroque Lute masters Duo Silvio, and pianist Mark Markham, whose exceptional abilities span classical, jazz, spirituals, and gospel music.

A true advocate for musical education and cultural exchange, Dodson serves as the Artistic Director of Conciertos de la Villa de Santo Domingo, a festival that has significantly contributed to the musical landscape of the Colonial City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Dominican Republic. Dodson collaborates with Early Music specialists from Europe and the United States, Fundación de la Villa de Santo Domingo, the National Conservatory of Music, and Koribe, the professional chorus of the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Culture to prepare Dominican musicians to perform vocal and instrumental music from the Renaissance and Baroque Eras, corresponding to the age of the Colonial City’s buildings. In addition to conducting the orchestral concerts of Camerata Colonial, Dodson invited eminent soloists from the United States and Europe, hosted Handel and Haydn Society for a complete cycle of the Brandenburg Concerti and brought the Peabody Renaissance Ensemble to perform music from the time of Christopher Columbus’s voyages to the New World. Syndicated programs from the festival have been broadcast nationwide through Public Radio International and National Public Radio.

Dodson’s engagements include notable appearances with esteemed institutions around the world. As a speaker, he has been a guest lecturer at Columbia University and given presentations to the League of American Orchestras, International Conductors Guild, and the annual Creativity Conference, a meeting of creative artists from around the world representing many different artistic fields. As a conductor Dodson has made seven guest-conducting tours of Russia, led concerts in Greece, Mexico, Poland, Hungary, and the Dominican Republic, and appeared on world-renowned stages such as New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Budapest’s Hungarian State Opera House, Cleveland’s Severance Hall, and the Athens and Thessaloniki Megaron Concert Halls. Dodson served as music director to ten organizations across the United States and conducted opera productions with the Cleveland Opera, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and Yale Opera. In concert, he has accompanied renowned vocalists from the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center.

A committed proponent of contemporary music, Dodson has led over twenty-five world-premieres in the United States and abroad. He has collaborated in concert with composer Bright Sheng, led the inaugural performance of Theodore Antoniou’s Cello Concerto in Athens, Greece, and recorded Robert Jager’s orchestral compositions for the Naxos label. Dodson spearheaded a multi-year composer-in-residence initiative with Grammy-winning composer Kenneth Fuchs which resulted in a recording of the new works by the London Symphony Orchestra. Dodson collaborated to commission Virtue, a modern re-imagining of Hildegard von Bingen’s medieval morality music drama, Ordo Virtutum, by the esteemed composer, Christopher Theofinidis. After leading performances of Virtue in Michigan Dodson was invited to conduct the New Haven premiere. A composer himself, Dodson’s own music for orchestra, chorus and chamber ensembles is available through Subito Music Distributors.

In addition to his musical endeavors, Dodson is a mindful practitioner and dedicated educator. He has seamlessly integrated mindfulness practices into his musical endeavors, fostering a holistic approach to performance and teaching. He teaches mindfulness for performers through retreats, seminars, masterclasses, and workshops at institutions such as Oberlin College-Conservatory, Thessaloniki State Conservatory of Music, Dominican Republic National Conservatory of Music, Washington College, Kutztown University’s Summer Music Festival, and the Chopin Academy of Atlanta. In a recent project, he coached twenty-six pianists, gave seminars on mindfulness for performers and accompanied them backstage to provide support at their debut performances at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. He was selected for a National Endowment for the Humanities program to study Buddhist Traditions in the Himalayas under faculty from The College of the Holy Cross and Harvard University.  He continued his studies through courses on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center and at UMass Memorial. Dodson is a member of the Soto Zen Center of Atlanta.

Dodson studied for five years with composer Robert Jager at Tennessee Technological University. An alumnus of Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory of Music, he studied with celebrated conducting pedagogue Frederik Prausnitz, followed by a fellowship at the Aspen Music School where he worked under the tutelage of renowned French conductor, Paul Vermel. The Croswell Opera House’s Lenawee Arts Award, awards for teaching excellence, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Siena Heights University all reflect his impact on the fields of music and education.

Currently residing in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, Dodson continues his activities as a conductor, composer, and mindfulness teacher. For more information and updates, please visit johnthomasdodson.com and mindfulnessforperformers.com.