Kenneth Woods Cello Masterclass

Kenneth Woods

Conductor, English Symphony Orchestra and Cellist
Sunday, December 6th — Cello Masterclass
8:00-10:00 am CST


Kenneth Woods is currently the Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra— and, in addition, is a cellist, author, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest, and cellist of Ensemble Epomeo. He is a native of Madison, Wisconsin and a WYSO alumni, and has just been awarded the 2020 UW-Madison Mead Witter School of Music Distinguished Alumni Award. We are honored to have Kenneth Woods return periodically to teach Master Classes for WYSO members.

Woods has concertized throughout the US and Canada, and has also been heard as soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe and New Zealand. He is a founding member of the NEA Rural Residency Grant winning Taliesin Trio. He has also been the cellist of the Masala String Quartet from 1993-1999. He was artist-in-residence, member of the Eastern Piano Trio while serving as director of strings and chamber music at Eastern Oregon University from 1999-2002. Since 2008, he has been the  cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo, with whom he records and concertizes regularly. The Ensemble’s debut CD, featuring world-premiere recordings of the string trios of Hans Gal paired with those of Hans Krasa, was released in 2012 on Avie Records to international acclaim, selected as a Gramophone Critic’s Choice, Disc of the Month on MusicWeb and hailed by The Strad as a “thought provoking disc.”

Concerto appearances include the Aspen Music Festival, the Grande Ronde Symphony, Cambridge Symphony,  Gonzaga Symphony, Boston Chamber Orchestra, Lancashire Chamber Orchestra, Blue Mountain Festival Chamber Orchestra, Oregon East Symphony, and the Madison Philomusica. He has been heard in radio broadcasts on NPR and the CBC, and recorded for Vienna Modern Masters.

Festival appearances include the Festival at Sandpoint, Great Lakes Chamber Festival, Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, Schloss Weinberg Festival in Austria, Chautauqua Institute, Domaine Forget Festival in Canada, Wallowa Lake Chamber Music Festival and the International Festival Institute at Round Top. In 2013, he appears as cellist at the Newburyport and Two Rivers festivals, and with Ensemble Epomeo, will be artist in residence at the Scotia Festival of Music in Canada.

Intensely committed to new music, Mr. Woods has collaborated with such composers as Bruce Adolphe, Gerhard Samuel, John Corigliano, Oliver Knussen, and Peter Lieberson, and has given numerous premieres. As a cellist he has been recipient of the Aspen Fellowship, and is the only person to have received the Dale Gilbert Award, given annually to the “Outstanding String Performer in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music” in consecutive years. Also while in Madison, he held the Strelow Quartet Fellowship.

Kenneth Woods plays a cello of Italian origin believed to be made by Antonio Mariani in the mid-1600’s.

In 2016 Kenneth Woods played as a Guest Artist with the Youth Orchestra and answered a few questions:

How long have you been performing professionally?

I started performing professionally while still a member of WYSO. Some friends and I started what we called the WYSO String Quartet and began gigging all over Madison and the region.

Who is your favorite composer?

We live in an absolute golden age of music- there are so many composers working today who are writing music deserving of the widest possible audience. I could never pick just one from today or the past. I couldn’t live without Schumann, Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Brahms, Mahler, Shostakovich, Bruckner, Sibelius, Elgar, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Bartok, Schubert, Mendelssohn and any number of living composers.

Do you have a favorite memory from WYSO?

Watching James Smith transform a decent orchestra into a fantastic one over the course of his first four or five rehearsals. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

What piece of advice would you offer to current WYSO members considering a similar musical career?

Invest in your love of music. Most of us come to this world through an instrument. Affection for the cello or the horn can take you far as a student, but it’s musicianship, curiosity and love of music that makes all the difference as a professional.

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