Originally from northern Ontario, John Kraus is an alumnus of Western University, London, where he studied Music Education. He studied clarinet with Jerome Summers, Robert Riesling and Robert Sheffield and conducting with Jerome Summers and William Gordon. As an undergraduate student John was invited to participate in the graduate conducting seminar at Western, where he first conducted the University Orchestra, performing the second movement of Brahms’ Symphony No. 3. The following year, John had the opportunity to work with Professor Gordon as his assistant, and conducted the University Wind Ensemble during the academic year. After graduating, John was able to work with Wayne Toews and Morihiro Okabe, both proponents of the conducting methods of Saito, as part of an intensive summer program in the early 1990’s.
As the founding music director of the Durham Chamber Orchestra (1996-2007), the Lakeridge Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (1998-1999), and the Music Director of the Clarington Concert Band (2011-2013) and the current music director and conductor of the Northumberland Orchestra & Choir (2013 to present), John has worked in many different genres and with many local and international talents, including Mary Elizabeth Brown, Anastasia Rizikov, Ron Korb, and the Sultans of String. John’s conducting credits include performances of Korngold’s Violin Concerto, Gloria for soprano, choir and orchestra by Poulenc, the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in Eb+ by Lizst, as well as Canadian and world premiere’s of works by Canadian composers Vince Gassi, David Tanner and Brent Straughan. 2019-20 performances include the Mozart Coronation Mass (K 317), an evening with Quartetto Gelato, Gershwin's An American in Paris, The Armed Man Mass by Jenkins, the Weber Bassoon Concerto and Luc Arsenault's L'Histoire d'une Pionniere du nord. John will also conduct the Parkdale Symphony Orchestra in February 2020, presenting a ‘Proms program’ including Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending, Warlock’s Capriol Suite and Walton’s Crown Imperial March. Recent engagements include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, the Cherubini Requiem, Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1, the Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio, a concert performance of Puccini’s Turandot and an evening of Jazz standards with Molly Johnson.
In the fall of 2017, John was nominated as one of five national candidates to be considered for the Heinz Unger Award. This honour, administrated by the Ontario Arts Council, recognizes an emerging professional conductor, who has demonstrated their skill and abilities and is making an impact in their chosen field.
John has conducted, performed and recorded as part of funk bands, jazz ensembles, musical theatre pit orchestras, wind bands, orchestras, choirs and chamber ensembles. As well John has assisted in the creation of many professional recordings as an editor, performer and producer. As clarinetist with the Lavender Chamber Ensemble, a collective of professional musicians from south and central Ontario, and as a freelance performer, John has had the chance to perform solo and chamber works including Michael Conway Baker’s Clarinet Concerto, the Beethoven Septet and Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio.
John was an active member of the Ontario Music Educators Association and has lead school workshops with students and with teachers as well as annual conference sessions on 'best practices', creativity and composition, and technology in the Music classroom. As a dedicated educator with more than 30 years spent working with students, young and old, from around the world, John continues to share his passion for Music. Many of his students have gone on to study Music at the University of Toronto, McGill, Western, Laurier, Berklee College Boston, and have developed careers in broadcasting, education, entertainment law, composition and performance. John regularly conducted honour high school ensembles as part of the annual Conference of Independent Schools Music Festival (CISMF), held annually each spring at Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto. He works with amateur adult musicians who may have entered the arena for the first time or who have returned to something that they began as youngsters, working as a volunteer with the Liftlock Bands ‘New Horizons’ organization, Peterborough, and as an instructor at the Lakefield Summer Music Camp, Lakefield, Ontario. John has also worked as a coach with the woodwind, brass and percussion sections of the La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra, Port Hope. He regularly works with ensembles preparing for festivals as well as an adjudicator. John has been a member of the Canadian Music Festivals Adjudicator Association since 2014, hearing performances at the local, regional and provincial levels of competition.
In his spare time John enjoys skiing, playing golf, softball and goal for pick-up hockey games, reading, smoking any type of meat for dinners with friends, single malt scotch and riding his motorcycle.
Became the third
Music Director of
in December of 2019