Maestro John Gordon Ross, Music Director & Conductor
John Gordon Ross began his leadership of the Western Piedmont Symphony and Youth Symphony in 1991 and commences his 25th season as Music Director and Conductor. Together with the orchestra, Maestro John has done much to enhance the musical environment of Hickory and the Unifour region. Under his leadership, many significant American composers and soloists have visited Hickory for Masterworks concerts and the orchestra has been recognized as a leader in the presentation of music by American composers of the present day and the past. In 1999 he was a major force in establishment of the Hickory Metro String Quartet Residency which has been a major contributor to the musical improvement of the Western Piedmont Symphony. Today citizens of Western North Carolina get to attend professional quality concerts of both orchestral and chamber music that do not exist in many other much larger Southeastern cities.
Maestro Ross was born in the small farming community of Selma, Indiana in 1951 and attended nearby Ball State University and the Cleveland Institute of Music for undergraduate studies. He and his wife Sarah Rocco Ross graduated together from the Master of Music program at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He has also studied summers at Tanglewood, the Domaine School, and was a fellow of the Scotia Festival of Music for three summers. His private conducting teachers were Walter Hendl, Thomas Briccetti and Robert Hargreaves. He was also a participant in the conducting master classes of Pierre Boulez and Victor Yampolsky, and was an active participant in the seminars of Christopher Hogwood and Erich Leinsdorf.
He was Music Director and Conductor of the Kingsport (TN) Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Chorus, and Youth Orchestra from 1981-1991 and served in a variety of conducting capacities with the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra including Music Director and Conductor from 1977-1979. Guest conducting engagements include the Cleveland Philharmonic, Johnson City (TN) Symphony, Lima and Blue Ash (OH) Symphony Orchestras. He is also a former assistant conductor of the Canton (OH) Symphony Orchestra and conductor of the Canton Youth Symphony.
Since the late 1990’s, John Gordon Ross has served in a variety of roles as an adjunct faculty member at Lenoir-Rhyne University including portions of two semesters where he served as guest conductor of their choral ensembles as a temporary replacement for Dr. Paul D. Weber. He also teaches the Instrumental Conducting course every other spring semester.
He is also still an active trombonist and has performed with the Lakeside Symphony Orchestra in Ohio every summer since 1978. In Hickory, he is a regular performer with the LRU Concert Band and the Hickory Jazz Orchestra. He is also in demand as a clinician having conducted several festival orchestras in Tennessee and North Carolina and adjudicated NCMEA Orchestra Festivals in both Eastern and Western districts. Last year he served as the clinician for the inaugural Cleveland County Honors Orchestra. Last summer he was elected to a third term on the Board of Directors of the Conductors Guild and serves as Chair of their Nominating Committee.
John and his wife Sarah Rocco Ross (Sally) have been married for 33 years and are the proud owners of Grracie, an 12 year old cockapoo. Sally is the Director of Strings for the Hickory Public Schools and Associate Principal Cellist of the Western Piedmont Symphony and Salisbury Symphony Orchestra. The City of Hickory honored their musical accomplishments with a John and Sally Ross Day on November 21, 2010.