Brian Edward Dowdy is Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra and Journey North Opera Company. His prior conducting positions include the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra, Mississippi Valley Orchestra and University of Minnesota Campus Orchestra program. In addition to symphonic performances, Dowdy has recently conducted productions of Don Giovanni, Hänsel und Gretel, Susannah, Le tragédie de Carmen and Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia – for which his recent production with Journey North Opera Company was named one of “Ten Concerts that Shone Brightest in 2019” by the Star Tribune. He has also led performances with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, University of Minnesota Campus Singers, Chorus Polaris, the Great River Chorale and the Sanctuary choir of Richmond, VA, with whom he recorded Music for Compline, an album of plainchant and renaissance motets. As an advocate for new music, Dowdy has led premier performances for the Switchboard and Hot Air Music Festivals in San Francisco, and in 2013 he conducted the Atlantic Chamber Ensemble in Project Beck, a night of 20 premiers inspired by Beck Hansen’s Song Reader.
As a guitarist, Dowdy has performed in the Switchboard Music Festival, Hot Air Music Festival, Old First Concerts, New Music Santa Cruz, Noe Valley Chamber Music, the Guitar Foundation of America Convention and VCU Guest Artist Series. He has premiered numerous compositions for guitar and performed a wide variety of 20th and 21st century works. In 2009 he performed in the premier recording of Lou Harrison’s Elegy for Harpo Marx, alongside David Tanenbaum and Rodrigo Placencia.
Dowdy’s interest in leadership development also led him to partner with Delphi Initiatives, where he facilitated leadership-training programs and team-building interventions for small non-profits, regional health care systems and international relief organizations. He has more recently partnered with Open Voices in supporting Minnesota artists and arts organizations bringing their work to digital spaces in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dowdy studied at Oberlin College, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the University of Minnesota. He holds degrees in conducting, classical guitar performance, English literature and East Asian Studies. His principal mentors have included Mark Russell Smith, Kathy Saltzman Romey, Daniel Myssyk, Erin Freeman, David Tanenbaum and Stephen Aron. Dowdy currently resides in Minneapolis with his wife and son. When not making music, he can usually be found refurbishing bicycles or at the dojo practicing Aikido, the Japanese martial “art of peace.”