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About John

John van Deursen is a conductor, ensemble clinician and arranger/composer.

As a professional educator, John has worked with and mentored young musicians across Asia and Western Canada through a multitude of clinics with bands and orchestras, as Music Director of the Surrey Youth Orchestra (2011 - 2014), and as Head of the Comox Valley Youth Music Centre (2009 – 2011), and most recently as Head of Instrumental Ensembles at Douglas College from 2011 - 2021.

Prior to his appointment to the College, John was Associate Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra and Director of the Concert Winds at the University of British Columbia.

John brings a wealth of experience from his time in Asia. From 1995 until 2005 he held the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the Taipei Philharmonic and led the group in prestigious concert halls in the Czech Republic, Sweden and Helsinki, as well as the National Concert Hall in Taipei.  John has appeared as Guest Conductor with the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, the Prince George Symphony, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, the New Taipei Philharmonic, the Symphony of the Kootenays and more. 

Prior to his return to Canada in 2003, John built up a successful freelance career that included over one thousand performances with the Yeh Shu Han Brass Quintet, and club work as jazz musician, the latter culminating in a guest appearance in the Singapore International Jazz Festival as a member of the Asian Allstar group alongside Ernie Watts, Hino Terumasa and Dee Dee Bridgewater. John’s jazz-influenced arrangements have often been featured by the Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra, including a humorous take of Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” as surprise encore for the orchestra’s Scandinavian Tour.


Dr. van Deursen holds degrees from Northwestern University and the University of British Columbia, and undertook further conducting training with international master instructor Gustav Meier in masterclasses in the U.S., Europe and Canada. Through his time with Meier, John conducted the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. As assistant to Henry Mazer at the Taipei Philharmonic, Dr. van Deursen gained invaluable experience and knowledge from Mazer’s time as Associate Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Georg Solti. In Canada, John undertook studies with Bruce Dunn at UBC where he studied the Seito technique as taught by Kazuyoshi Akiyama.


While taking his DMA studies, John was the recipient of the Mildred Jones Scholarship in Music and while an undergraduate at UBC was a winner of the Vancouver Youth Orchestra “Concerto Competition.” He was also awarded the “Director’s Award” for his “outstanding musicianship, and exceptional talent” by the School of Music.

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