April 20, 2023

JJ Hudson named interim Artistic Director of CIM Opera Theater

A high-resolution head-shot of JJ Hudson in front of a brick wall

One voice in CIM Opera Theater now sounds a little more loudly than the others. 

On Thursday, CIM announced that acclaimed stage director Dr. JJ Hudson has been appointed interim artistic director of the school’s highly distinguished opera program.   

Hudson, guest director of CIM’s recent production of Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, takes up the position in fall 2023 and replaces Dean Southern, now the school’s vice president of academic and student affairs and dean of the institute. 

“I jumped at the opportunity because of the excellent experience I had there,” Hudson said. “People make the magic in this world, and we were able to make magic together at CIM because everybody was so invested. I’m extremely excited.” 

Scott Harrison, executive vice president and provost of CIM, said Hudson joins a robust slate of artistic leaders at CIM including conductor Carlos Kalmar (orchestra), composer Keith Fitch (contemporary music) and violinists Philip Setzer (chamber music) and Julie Andrijeski (baroque ensemble) in providing students with the training and experience they’ll need to take their place as the future of classical music.  

“CIM students work with ensemble directors who have performed at the highest levels of the professional world but are deeply committed to nurturing and empowering young talent,” Harrison said. “JJ Hudson adds to that illustrious roster, and under his leadership during this interim period, our voice students will be even better positioned to fulfill their dreams and potential at CIM and as they step onto their first professional stages.” 

Mary Schiller, head of CIM’s voice division, said she’s thrilled to welcome Hudson as interim artistic director of opera. She said Hudson became the first choice of students, faculty, administration and audiences after they experienced his work at CIM and saw Dialogues of the Carmelites, which one reviewer summarized as “a totally effective piece of theater.”  

“The entire voice and opera division was enthusiastic about JJ Hudson,” Schiller said. “Dialogues is a challenging piece, but he brought it to life in a way that thrilled our audiences and brought out the absolute best from everyone. I’m confident he will preserve CIM’s standards of artistic excellence.”  

Hudson comes to CIM with his wife, a choral conductor, and teenage daughter from Georgia State University in Atlanta, where he has been the Valerie Adams Professor of Practice in Opera since fall 2021. Before that, he guest directed with companies including Sarasota Opera, Opera in the Heights and Opera Tampa.  

Hudson also remains in demand at university and young-artist opera programs nationwide, having directed at Temple University and Stony Brook University and worked at Aspen Opera Theater, Oberlin in Italy, and Opera North. CIM marks his first appointment at a conservatory.  

Although Hudson’s time at CIM has yet to begin, the director said he already has begun imagining the future of CIM Opera Theater. He said the program will continue to push artistic boundaries and explore new ways of engaging with and relating to listeners in the 21st century.  

Whatever transpires, Hudson said he looks forward to collaborating with CIM faculty and students, and to more experiences like those he had directing Dialogues.  

“I knew CIM was a special place almost immediately,” Hudson said. “The level of support from the faculty was the kind of involvement you dream about, and the students were so secure in their performances and in their artistry. It was such a pleasure.”