Jordan Randall Smith

Department: Music

Visiting Assistant Professor Music

Director of Orchestra

  • Education
  • MM, Texas Tech University
  • Areas of Specialty
  • Conducting
  • Ensembles
  • Music Education
faculty-detail-profile-image

Award-winning conductor Jordan Randall Smith is the music director of Symphony Number One, music director at Hunt's Church and assistant conductor of Hopkins Symphony Orchestra at Johns Hopkins University. Also principal conductor of Opus Concert Theatre, Smith was formerly the co-founder and artistic director of the Dallas Festival of Modern Music and assistant conductor at Peabody Opera Theater.

Smith was lauded for being "an attentive partner" by the Baltimore Sun. Jordan's leadership of Mahler's fourth symphony was praised by the Sun's Tim Smith: "The third movement, in particular, was quite sensitively molded." According to the Ft. Worth Music Examiner, Jordan, "drove an intensity in the air," leading the festival’s ensemble in residence, Ars Nova Dallas, in performances of Schoenberg's landmark Pierrot Lunaire. Conductor Alan Gilbert called Jordan’s conducting of Boulez’ Le Marteau sans Maître, “impressive.”

More recently, Jordan has been involved with blossoming public and scholarly interest in composer Florence Price and is a co-founder and creative director of the International Florence Price Festival. He frequently writes about new Florence Price developments on his blog.

In 2016, Jordan was named a Baltimore Social Innovation Fellow for his work with Symphony Number One. He was the recipient of a Bruno Walter Fellowship at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in 2010 where he joined the other fellows and the festival orchestra in concert.

An active promoter and performer of new music, Jordan has a discography that encompasses four critically-acclaimed commercial releases. “Conductor Jordan Randall Smith whips up a fine head of urgency, as the music veers from gesture to near-primal cry,” said Colin Clarke about Symphony Number One's More from 2016. Tim Smith wrote in The Baltimore Sun that “...Smith draws playing of considerable expressive character from the ensemble.” Jordan's history of commissions spans over 50 world premieres, garnering a Finalist nod in the 2018-19 American Prize in Conducting.

Jordan is also a student of early music, having formerly served as apprentice conductor of the Dallas Bach Society Orchestra and Chorus. Smith has mentored hundreds of young musicians in ensembles across the country including the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra, Cross Timbers Youth Orchestra and the Frederick Regional Youth Orchestra.

Jordan is a trained percussionist, placing in the 2003 Percussive Arts Society's keyboard percussion (marimba) competition, among others. Smith remains active in the percussion community and in the commissioning of new works for marimba.

Smith is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory, a student of Gustav Meier, Marin Alsop and Markand Thakar. He received a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting at Texas Tech University under Gary Lewis.

An enthusiastic advocate for classical music, Jordan was invited to give a TED Talk at TEDxMidatlantic 2017 and is regularly engaged to give clinics and presentations across the country, including at the 2019 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic.  Jordan also writes as a contributor to Baltimore Magazine. More information about Jordan can be found at jordanrsmith.com.

I grew up the son of a pianist and a choir director in Dallas, Texas. I have fond memories growing up around music, even though I was a bit of a "late bloomer" in that I did not begin my own serious pursuit of music until the end of middle school. It was the percussion world that initially awakened me to my personal obsession with music, and it was the conducting bug that eventually made it clear that I had no choice but to do this for a living. We don’t choose music, it chooses us!

Life as an undergraduate, both on- and off-campus, is what helped put me once and for all on the path to becoming a conductor, though it didn’t happen overnight, and there were many setbacks. When I was a bit younger, I would often talk with my younger students about the four defining failures of my career, four inflection points that seemed difficult and painful at the time but led me down a path that was far more successful than I had previously imagined possible. I say I "used to" because I have gone on to experience additional failures. I have learned that there is no avoiding failure, there is only a question of how to handle them. I have learned to summon resilience and that more than any other skill is the one that I hope to teach students: not how to avoid failure, but how to learn from it and grow stronger because of it. 

The number one way to be resilient in music is to not simply wait for the proverbial phone to ring. Instead, create your own opportunities, and write yourself into your projects. What is important to acknowledge is that music as a profession is equally as demanding as it is rewarding. Though, with the right tools and the right mindset, and with a willingness to serve your local community and enhance public life, you can succeed and thrive. 

When I take some time for myself, I enjoy podcasts, going to live performances, travel and playing with my cat.

Courses taught:

  • MUED-043 Percussion Class
  • MUED-345 Instrumental Music Ed.
  • MUED-400 Classroom Management
  • MUED-400 Classroom Performance
  • MUED-400 Preparation and Planning
  • MUED-400 Student Teaching
  • MUSC-074 Orchestra
  • MUSC-077 Training Ensemble
  • MUSC-152 Survey of World Music
  • MUSC-369 Beginning Conducting