Hailed by Gramophone as a “symphonic conductor of stature,” conductor, cellist, composer, rock guitarist and author Kenneth Woods has worked with the National Symphony Orchestra (USA), Royal Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia and English Chamber Orchestra. He has also appeared on the stages of some of the world’s leading music festivals such as Aspen, Scotia and Lucerne. In 2013, he took up a new position as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, succeeding Vernon Handley.
Gustav Mahler’s music has been a lifelong source of inspiration for Kenneth Woods, who has conducted acclaimed performances of the symphonies and songs across the Americas and Europe. In 2011, Somm Records released Woods’ first recording of the music of Gustav Mahler, Schoenberg’s chamber ensemble versions of Das Lied von der Erde and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, which won the coveted IRR Outstanding rosette from International Record Review.
Off the podium, Woods is also much in demand as an essayist and speaker on Mahler’s life and music. He has given talks and participated in panel discussions on Mahler for the BBC and multiple festivals and orchestras, and was the official blogger of The Bridgewater Hall’s Mahler in Manchester series in 2010-11.
Kenneth Woods was Principal Guest Conductor of the Stratford-upon-Avon based Orchestra of the Swan from 2009-13. He and the orchestra have recorded the first complete cycle of the symphonies of Austrian composer Hans Gál, paired with those of Robert Schumann for Avie Records. This series has been among the most widely praised classical recording projects in recent years, highlighted in National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, Performance Today, BBC Radio 3, the Sunday New York Times, the Sunday Telegraph, Washington Post and was an Editor’s Choice in Gramophone. Other recordings include “Spring Sounds, Spring Seas” (for MSR), a MusicWeb ‘Record of the Y ear’. Recent CD releases include orchestral music of Philip Sawyers (another MusicWeb Record of the Year in 2014) for Nimbus, music of Brahms and Schoenberg for Somm, a disc of new works for violin, cello and narrator and another of string trios by Schnittke, Penderecki, Kurtág and Weinberg for Avie, and Signum have just released a disc of contemporary trumpet concerti by John McCabe, Robert Saxton and Deborah Pritchard with trumpeter Simon Desbruslais. Kenneth is active as a cellist and is a founding member of the string trio, Ensemble Epomeo, whose debut CD was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice. Though his solo repertoire ranges from Haydn to Chen Yi, he is happiest playing chamber music and unaccompanied Bach.
A widely read writer and frequent broadcaster, Woods’ blog, A View from the Podium, is one of the 25 most popular classical blogs in the world. Kenneth lives in Penarth, Wales with his wife, the violinist Suzanne Casey, and their two children, Samuel and Esther.