After his first concert with the National Symphony Orchestra, John Clanton was described in the Washington Post as a “confident conductor of patience and intelligence” with an “affinity for the exuberant music. It was clear from this heartfelt music making that the NSO likes working with Clanton”.
John Clanton has had a unique and wide-ranging career as a conductor, music director, and pianist. Over the past 30+ years, he has conducted some of the country’s finest orchestras, opera companies, bands, wind ensembles, male choruses and mixed choruses
As an orchestral conductor, he served as Music Director of The U.S. Army Orchestra (Washington, DC); conducted the National, Phoenix, Annapolis, and Tuscaloosa symphonies; and was a Finalist in the most recent Music Director search for the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra. He served 4 seasons as cover conductor for the National Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director Leonard Slatkin, who also brought him to cover concerts with the St. Louis and Pittsburgh symphonies.
As a pops conductor, Mr. Clanton conducted a New Year’s Eve concert with the Lima (OH) Symphony Orchestra called Music of the Knights and featuring the music of Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, and Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber. Then, with only a week notice, he learned the piano parts for all 16 selections and flew to Los Angeles to both play and music direct the show. He conducted Broadway Blockbusters with Stephen Schwartz and the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. He has also conducted pops concerts with the Tuscaloosa and Annapolis symphonies; and guest conducted the pops orchestras of San Francisco, Detroit, Grant Park, Naples, Cincinnati, London, and the National Symphony while collaborating with Erich Kunzel and Marvin Hamlisch.
As an opera conductor, Mr. Clanton conducted Man of La Mancha with the Indianapolis Opera; Il Trovatore with The US Army Orchestra and Chorus; and There is a Rill Speaking with the Shenandoah Conservatory Opera Theatre. He was assistant conductor for La Traviata with the Washington National Opera; cover conductor for National Symphony performances of Eugene Onegin and Carmen; assistant director for Postcards from Morocco at the Eastman Opera Theatre.
As music director for musical theatre productions, Mr. Clanton has conducted performances of West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, City of Angels, She Loves Me, Ragtime, and Oklahoma!. He also the pianist and conductor for Little Shop of Horrors, Chicago, Singin in the Rain, Seussical, Spamalot, Grand Night for Singing, Newsies, Illyria, Legally Blonde, and Show Boat.
As a choral conductor, he served as Music Director of The U.S. Army Chorus and The Soldier’s Chorus; conducted the Mozart Requiem; sang and recorded with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus; twice guest conducted the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; and founded the Armed Forces Chorus, which he conducted during the National Cathedral Memorial Services for the State Funerals of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald R. Ford.
As a wind conductor, he served in Washington, DC, as an associate conductor of The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” and The U.S. Army Field Band.; was conductor of the Army Ground Forces Band in Atlanta, GA and the 8th Infantry Division Band in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. He has also led performances with the Dallas Wind Symphony and the Eastman Wind Ensemble.
Lieutenant Colonel Clanton enjoyed a 25-year career as a conductor in the U.S. Army Bands Program and retired in 2012. During that time, he conducted performances for millions of audience members in 10 countries and 49 states. He performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Ravinia, Chautauqua and Carnegie Hall and worked with such renowned artists as Bob Hope, Jessye Norman, Sylvia McNair, Leonard Slatkin, Kansas, Chanticleer and Walter Cronkite. He has performed for 6 U.S. Presidents, 23 foreign Heads of State, and at the 2002 Winter Olympics, 1996 & 2004 Presidential Inaugurations and the White House State Dinner in honor of Queen Elizabeth II.
John was twice selected by Leonard Slatkin to participate in the Kennedy Center’s National Conducting Institute, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Furman University, a Master of Music in Conducting from the Eastman School of Music, and a Post-Graduate Artist Diploma in Musical Theatre from the Shenandoah Conservatory.