Conductors Guild Officers - 2017-2018

John Farrer - President

John Farrer

  • Music Director, Bakersfield Symphony (CA)
  • Music Director, Roswell Symphony (NM)Orchestra
  • Music Director, Santa Maria Philharmonic 
John Farrer enjoyed a thirty-two year career as the music director of the Bakersfield Symphony. He is also music director of the Roswell Symphony Orchestra, and the Santa Maria Philharmonic. Dr. Farrer is a frequent guest conductor with orchestras in England. As senior guest conductor of the English Sinfonia, he has toured with the orchestra throughout England and northern France. His eight recordings with the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, and English Sinfonia have received high praise from critics around the world. His recording of music by Aaron Copland and George Gershwin was re-released by Sanctuary Classics March 2005, and his compact disc of English string music was re-issued in the spring of 2006.  Dr. Farrer’s new CD of the Brahms Symphony No. 2 with the New Queen’s Hall Orchestra has been enthusiastically received.  Critics have compared it favorably with definitive recordings of this work made by William Mengelberg, Pierre Monteux, and Felix Weingartner.

Dr. Farrer was associated with the San Francisco Symphony as a cover conductor for the Orchestra’s subscription concerts. He was a speaker in the San Francisco Symphony’s series of Inside Music talks, led the Orchestra in Concerts for Kids, and conducted a program at Stern Grove which attracted 20,000 listeners.

John Farrer is director of the California Conducting Institute, a national training program held in Bakersfield. Conductors from around the world participated in the fifth workshop in May 2006. Dr. Farrer was also an instructor at the London Conducting Workshop at the Royal College of Music the summers of 2005 and 2006.

Dr. Farrer is a member of the music advisory committee of the Young Musicians Foundation of Los Angeles, a board member of the Chamber Orchestra of New York, and a national trustee of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. 


Christopher Blair - Vice President

  • Principal/Chief Scientist of Akustiks 

Christopher Blair is a Partner at AKUSTIKS, based in Norwalk Connecticut where he specializes in the acoustic design of concert halls, opera houses, and theaters. Current or recently completed projects include the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home of the Nashville Symphony, the Juliet Rosch Recital Hall for SUNY-Fredonia, new additions to the Cleveland Institute of Music, renovations to the Boston Opera House, renovations and additions at the Eastman School of Music, as well as major projects in the USA, Mexico, Canada, Thailand, Columbia, Chile, and Brazil.  Some of his important projects prior to his work at AKUSTIKS include Singapore’s Esplanade Performing Arts Centre, Lucerne’s Cultural and Congress Centre, the City of Culture in Galicia, Spain, and Brazil’s famous Sala São Paulo.

Following undergraduate studies at the University of Vermont, Mr. Blair earned Masters degrees in Orchestral Conducting from the New England Conservatory and Acoustics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Early professional conducting appointments included the Music Directorships of the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra of Boston, the South End Symphony and Choral Society, the Melrose (MA) Symphony Orchestra, the Brown University Orchestra (where he was also Chairman of the String Program), and the position of Artistic Director of the Boston Light Opera.

In recent years Blair has appeared in concert with the Bolivian National Orchestra, the Porto Alegre (Brazil) Symphony Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, the Tianjin (China) Symphony Orchestra, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, the Vidin (Bulgaria) Philharmonic, and the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra. In the course of his acoustical consulting activities he has also led rehearsals of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.


Julius P. Williams - President-Elect

  • Conductor, Longar Ebony Symphony Orchestra
  • Music Director, Trilogy Opera Company
  • Conductor, Boston College’s Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra
  • Professor of Composition and Conducting, Berklee College of Music 

Maestro Julius P. Williams is an award-winning conductor, composer, recording artist, educator, author and pianist. His career has taken him from his native New York to musical venues around the globe, and has involved virtually every musical genre. A prolific composer, Maestro Williams has created dozens of works for every genre of contemporary classical performance, including opera, ballet, orchestra, chamber ensemble, chorus and solo voice, dance, musical theatre and film. Maestro Williams’ Carnegie Hall conducting debut was with the “Symphony Saint Paulia” Inaugural concerts. Additionally, his music has been performed by countless symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles around the globe including the premiere of his “Norman Overture” by Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic. 

Mr. Williams is Professor of Composition, Berklee College of Music, Artistic director/Conductor Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra (Boston) and conductor of Trilogy Opera in Newark, NJ., and has guest conducted numerous orchestras, both in the US and abroad.


John Gordon Ross - Treasurer

  • Music Director and Conductor, Western Piedmont Symphony (NC) Music Director and Conductor, Western Piedmont Youth Symphony (NC)
John Gordon Ross is completing his 25th season as Music Director and Conductor of the Western Piedmont Symphony in Hickory, NC. His first orchestral conducting opportunities came as Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra (1972-74) the Canton Symphony Orchestra and Youth Symphony (1974-75) and the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra (1973-1979). In recent years he has returned to Ohio to lead the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lima Symphony, and the Blue Ash Symphony. He served as Music Director and Conductor of the Kingsport (TN) Symphony Orchestra from 1981-1991. He is a frequent clinic and festival conductor in North Carolina, and has led both student orchestras at the Eastern Music Festival.

John Gordon Ross recently was a co-recipient of the Hickory Human Relations Council Award with Sally Ross for their service to young people. He stepped in to conduct the opening concert of the Lakeside Symphony Orchestra in Ohio in late July 2015.

Born in Selma, Indiana in 1951, John Gordon Ross received a B.M. from Ball State University and a M.M. from Northwestern University and also attended the Cleveland Institute of Music. His conducting teachers were Robert Hargreaves, Thomas Briccetti, and Walter Hendl. He also benefited from the knowledge and experience of long-term mentor Robert Marcellus, former Principal Clarinetist of the Cleveland Orchestra. He has also been a participating conductor in the master classes of Pierre Boulez and Victor Yampolsky.

He is still active as a trombonist and is the 2nd Trombonist of the Lakeside (OH) Summer Symphony and also regularly performs in North Carolina. He has taught instrumental conducting at Middle Tennessee State University and Lenoir-Rhyne University as a guest faculty member and taught other courses at King College in Bristol, TN. Currently he is an adjunct faculty member at Lenoir-Rhyne University where he is conducting choral ensembles during the spring semester. He held the title of Artist-in-Residence at Cleveland State University from 1977-79.

He is also a devotee of music of our time having led numerous world premieres with his orchestras. He is also recognized as an advocate of the music of African-American composers. He received one of the initial Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson Travel to the Collections Grants from the Center for Black Music Research and presented a paper on orchestral repertoire at their 2008 National Convention in Chicago.



David Leibowitz - Secretary

  • Music Director/Conductor, New York Repertory Orchestra (NY)
  • Principal Conductor, Massapequa Philharmonic Orchestra (NY)
  • Conductor, Maud Powell Music Festival and Opera Institute
Celebrated for his innovative programming and exciting performances, conductor David Leibowitz has achieved international acclaim for his work on the concert, opera, and ballet stage.

Mr. Leibowitz is the Music Director/Conductor and founder of the award-winning New York Repertory Orchestra. Some recent highlights of his tenure there have been a fully staged production of Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio and a landmark performance of Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 3. As an avid fan and champion of today’s music he has commissioned, worked with, and performed local and world premieres by some of today’s most important composers; such as Eduard Tubin, Harold Farberman, Paul Moravec, Stephen Dembski, John Schwabe, Salvador Brotons, William Dickerson, and Terry Pender.

Mr. Leibowitz holds the post of Principal Conductor with the Massapequa Philharmonic Orchestra (NY) and was on the conducting staff of the Rome Festival Opera (Italy) from 2002 to 2007, leading opera, ballet, and concert performances. He is also on the staff of the International Opera Institute at the Maud Powell Music Festival (IL). Operatic highlights include performances of Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, Don Giovanni, and Le nozze di Figaro, Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore, Bizet’s Carmen, and Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, all to critical acclaim.

Throughout the United States, Mexico, and Europe he has directed such ensembles as the Pleven Philharmonic (Bulgaria), the Orchester Pro Arte (Vienna), the Masterplayers Orchestra (Switzerland), the Orquestra Sinfonico de la Ciudad de Mexico, the Bach Festival Orchestra (Princeton, NJ), and the Brooklyn Opera and Dance Theater. Critics hailed his performances with the Pleven Philharmonic as “passionate and exciting.”

In the New York City area, he has conducted the Greenwich Village Orchestra, Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, Centre Symphony Orchestra, Sound Symphony Orchestra, and Music at St. Paul’s (Columbia University). He has been invited back to those ensembles and venues repeatedly.

A dedicated music educator, Mr. Leibowitz conducted the Third Street Philharmonia at the Third Street Music School Settlement in New York City from 2003-2005. He has worked as a conductor and coach with many other student and youth orchestras, including the Maud Powell Music Festival, the orchestras of Brooklyn College and City College of New York, the InterSchools Orchestra of New York, and the Gemini Youth Orchestra.

Mr. Leibowitz received his Master of Arts degree in Performance Practice, Summa Cum Laude, from the City University of New York’s Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College. His main studies were in performance, musicology, and composition. He was awarded a teaching fellowship and was named a Presidential Scholar of the University. He has continued his conducting studies with, among others, Herbert Blomstedt, Carlo Maria Giulini, and Jacques-Louis Monod. Mr. Leibowitz was a finalist in the International Masterplayers’ Conducting Competition in Lugano, Switzerland in 1986. David Leibowitz was recently given the “Gift to the City” award from the Omega Ensemble of New York for his ongoing contributions to the musical life of New York City.


Gordon Johnson - Past President


  • Music Director, Great Falls Symphony Association (MT)
  • Music Director, Mesa Symphony (AZ)
During his tenure as conductor of the Great Falls Symphony, GORDON JOHNSON has been known for his energetic performances and dynamic leadership. In addition to his responsibilities in Great Falls, Maestro Johnson maintains a busy schedule having guest conducting orchestras throughout the United States, Canada, England, Japan, Germany and France. In February Johnson was invited by the United States Embassy to conduct an American music program with the National Philharmonic of Moldova.


Johnson has served as the music director of the Glacier Symphony (MT) from 1982 to 1997 and later of the Mesa Symphony (AZ) from 1997 to 2005. He has served as the director of orchestras at the Red Lodge Music Festival since 2006.

Gordon Johnson has been recognized by the League of American Orchestras. the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and the Carnegie Hall Foundation for his contribution to the musical arts. The State of Minnesota conferred a special commendation to Johnson, on behalf of its citizens, for recognition of his contributions.

In addition to the Great Falls Symphony he is conductor of the Great Falls Youth Orchestra where he is directly involved in the training future generations of orchestral musicians. Johnson is well known for his performances heard on NRP’s PERFORMANCE TODAY and serves as host of SHOWCASE! broadcast regularly KGPR, Montana Public Radio.

During his many years of concertizing Johnson has served as a sympathetic accompanist to many superb musicians including world renowned artists Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlmen, Midori, and James Galway.

Maestro Johnson has been invited to serve on adjudication panels at Arizona State University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Montana, University of Oregon, Northwestern University and the Conservatoire Cesar Geoffray, Toulon, France.