William LaRue Jones is “one of the most active and versatile symphonic conductors in America today, possessing a unique ability to work effectively with musicians at all levels of performing capability and experience” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune). His conducting schedule includes a wide array of professional, festival, collegiate and student ensembles throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia, ranging from the Minnesota Orchestra and the Minneapolis Pops to the Penang (Malaysia) Symphony, the Antofagasta (Chili) Symphony, and the Symphony Orchestra of Lucerne (Switzerland) to the Orquestra Sinfonia do Theatro da Paz (Belem, Brazil). He returns annually to China to conduct orchestras and present conducting master classes. Recent engagements include conducting orchestras in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Xi’an, Nanning, Shenyang, Zhengzhou, Shijiazhuang, Tianjin, Nanchang, Sichuan, and Hong Kong. Other orchestras in Asia include Singapore, and in the Malaysian cities Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Kedah, and Penang. In addition, Jones has conducted over 100 all-state orchestras with additional festivals and clinics in each of the 50 United States and each Canadian province.
As a professional performer, noted for his outstanding technique and musicality, Jones was principal bassoon of the Minnesota Opera and Minnesota Ballet, and was first call associate with the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for over 15 seasons. He has performed under such esteemed maestros as Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Klaus Tennstedt, Antol Dorati, Charles Dutoit, Aaron Copland, Zubin Mehta, Neville Marriner, Edo deWaart, Daniel Barenboim, and Leonard Slatkin, to name a few.
Since 1997, Dr. Jones has been professor of music, director of orchestral studies and conductor of orchestras and opera at the University of Iowa (Iowa City). In 2008/9, the State of Iowa and the University of Iowa selected Dr. Jones for the Regents Award for Faculty Excellence. He was also appointed an Obermann Scholar and a Stanley International Fellow in 2008. In 2011, he received the designation of Collegiate Fellow in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Jones is currently music director/conductor of the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra. He has previously held the position of music director/conductor of the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, Bloomington (MN) Symphony Orchestra. He holds the titles of founder and conductor laureate of Greater Twin Cities’ Youth Symphonies (MN) and conductor emeritus of the 3M Symphony.
For his untiring work on behalf of music and arts education, he has been honored with the 2013 “Medal of Honor” presented by the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic (Chicago). In addition, he has received the American String Teachers Associations Exceptional Leadership and Merit Award, the David W. Preuss Leadership Award, the Sigma Alpha Iota Musician of the Year Award, WCCO Radio “Good Neighbor Award” and the State of Minnesota Governors’ Proclamation of “Dr. William LaRue Jones Week”.
Recognition of Jones’ outstanding gestural skills and score analysis has made him a sought-after teacher of conducting. He is the founding artistic director of the critically acclaimed Conductors Workshop of America and was the lead member of the conducting faculty of the International Workshops where he also served as conductor of the International String Orchestra. Jones has also presented conducting seminars/workshops internationally for professional/educational associations in Japan, Norway, Australia, Scotland, Austria, Germany, Malaysia, Switzerland, France, Brazil, and China.
In 1972, Dr. Jones founded the Greater Twin Cities’ Youth Symphonies (MN) which he guided to international acclaim during a 25-year tenure. The program became a model for youth orchestra structures worldwide, comprised of eight full orchestras involving over 1000 students annually.
A Texas native, Dr. Jones holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin, University of Iowa and Kansas State University, with additional studies at The Juilliard School of Music and the University of North Texas.
Michael Hopkins is associate professor and chair of Music Education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he teaches courses in string techniques, orchestra methods, research methods, and the psychology of music. He has been a guest conductor at over 100 orchestra festivals and clinics throughout the United States, and has given over 60 presentations at national, international, and state music education conferences on various topics in string education and music technology. He is very active as a composer and arranger, and has composed and arranged over 70 published works for orchestra. His music is published by Alfred Music Publishing, Grand Mesa Music, Kendor Music Publishing, Inc., and J.W. Pepper’s MyScore. His works have been commissioned by many schools and ensembles throughout the U.S.
He is the author of The Art of String Teaching, a comprehensive string pedagogy resource for pre-service teachers, professional orchestra conductors, teachers of group string classes, and private studio teachers. The Art of String Teaching has a complementary YouTube channel, a pedagogical resource with over 100 videos demonstrating all aspects of string technique.
Hopkins has published articles in the Journal of Research in Music Education, International Journal of Music Education, CRME Bulletin, Music Education Research, Journal of Music, Technology and Education, American String Teacher, String Research Journal, the Music Educators’ Journal, and The Instrumentalist.
Hopkins is the director of the Michigan String Educators Workshop and the U-M Bass Bash Festival. He serves on the board of the Michigan Chapter of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA), and has served on several national committees, including the Collegiate Committee and the Research Committee.