Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra

John Thomas Dodson, Principal Guest Conductor & Artistic Advisor

American conductor, John Thomas Dodson is Artistic Director of Conciertos de la Villa de Santo Domingo, Music Director of the Lexington Bach Festival and Conciertos de la Villa de Santo Domingo.

The press has described his concerts as “phenomenal,” noting his “clear and communicative leadership on the podium.” Renowned conductor Iván Fischer called him “a fine musician and a very good conductor,” and legendary pianist, Philippe Entremont described his work as “remarkable, sensitive, very precise.” Kurt Nikkanen, concertmaster of the New York City Ballet Orchestra at Lincoln Center said, “John Thomas Dodson is one of the finest musicians I have encountered in the course of my musical career.”

Dodson has conducted in renowned venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Hungarian State Opera House, Athen’s Megaron Concert Hall, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Denver’s Boettcher Concert Hall, and Cleveland’s Severance Hall and Maltz Center for the Performing Arts. He 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.

This season’s engagements included a return to Severance Hall and a debut concert in the Maltz Performing Arts Center with the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra, a concert with the Longmont Symphony in Colorado, and the return to concert activities with both the Lexington Bach Festival and Conciertos de la Villa de Santo Domingo after the COVID-19 pandemic. During his three years serving as Principal Conducor of the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra, Dodson led concerts in Severance Hall and the Maltz Performing Arts Center and conducted Puccini’s Manon Lescaut with the Cleveland Opera.

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. He has taught on the faculties of Tennessee Technological University, where he was selected as the Pan-Hellenic Faculty of the Year, and Adrian College, where he received the Ross Newsom Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Dodson has collaborated with many living composers, leading over twenty-five world-premieres in the United States, Russia and Europe. He performed under the batons of eminent composers including Aaron Copland, Karel Husa and Vincent Persichetti, and was invited to conduct at the Persichetti Remembered concert in Lincoln Center. Other 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, co-commissioning a new work by Christopher Theofinidis and performances collaborating with Michael Daugherty and Bright Sheng. John Thomas Dodson’s arrangements and orchestrations have been performed by numerous professional orchestras and festivals in the United States. His works for orchestra are published by Subito Music Distributors.

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 at Tennessee Technological University. Dodson is one of a small number of musicians included in the Budapest Philharmonic’s “Golden Book”, joining conductors from Mengelberg, Klemperer, Karajan and Maazel to composers Stravinsky and Kodaly. Dodson is a recipient of the Lenawee Arts Award from the Croswell Opera House, Tennessee Technological University’s Outstanding Young Alumnus Award and the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Siena Heights University.

In the past decade Dodson has become increasingly interested in 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 several years working with Buddhist coaches, he attended numerous silent meditation retreats and embarked on an extensive study of Vipassana meditation. He has taken courses in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs at UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center and UMass Memorial Center, and he applies these practices to helping musicians use mindfulness to enhance their creativity and to overcome mental obstacles. Dodson now leads mindfulness retreats, seminars, and workshops internationally in colleges, schools, conservatories, wellness centers and international conferences, including sessions at Washington College, Oberlin College-Conservatory, the Dominican Republic’s National Conservatory of Music and University of Pennsylvania Kutztown Summer Music Festival. In the spring he returned to Oberlin College-Conservatory to work with students in mindfulness for performers for the third year and this summer he led mindfulness sessions for students at the Chopin Academy of Atlanta.

Dodson created a humanities-based leadership-development program, Substance of Leadership ( and has been a presenter at national conferences of the International Conductors Guild and the League of American Orchestras. His organizations have received the Sally Parker Education Awards and been selected for the League’s three-year Institutional Vision Program under the mentorship of Tom Morris and Lowell Noteboom. Dodson has been a guest lecturer at Columbia University and was recently invited to be a featured speaker at the 2022 Creativity Conference. This will be his third engagement with this organization serving a community of creatives from across the world.