Oregon East Symphony Press Release-

October 3, 2008


Pendleton – The Oregon East Symphony regrets to announce that Kenneth Woods, will be stepping down as the orchestra’s Conductor and Music Director at the end of this season. Woods made his announcement at a Board of Directors meeting on Thursday night.

Woods originally came to Eastern Oregon in 1999, when he took up the position of professor of cello at Eastern Oregon University and music director of the Grande Ronde Symphony.One year later, he came to Pendleton and the Oregon East Symphony, when, at the conclusion of the orchestra’s conductor search in 2000, Woods was chosen to take over as Music Director and Conductor. Even after relocating to Wales in 2003, Woods maintained his connection to the symphony, commuting across the Atlantic for concerts and other events.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to make, or to announce,” said Woods of his resignation. “I’ve genuinely loved every concert and project we’ve done throughout these nine years, and I’ve made many life-long friends here. But, moving ahead is important for all artists, and, much as I’ll miss my friends in the orchestra and the community, it’s time to move on to new projects and new challenges.”

Through a widely hailed improvement in artistic standards and active recruitment of soloists of international standard, Woods re-energized local and regional audiences and players during the early years of his tenure with OES. He also played a big role in the creation of the organization’s preparatory orchestra and popular Summer Music Camp. Under Woods’ direction, the orchestra has presented world premieres of works by regional composers, tackled some of the biggest works in the symphony repertoire, and hosted its first composer-in-residence in 2003. In 2005, he started a series of chamber music concerts and recitals in support of musician compensation. In his final season with OES, Woods will direct the group in its fourth Mahler symphony in as many seasons and complete the orchestra’s cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies, both rare feats for a rural orchestra.

“Throughout my time here, this has been an orchestra of surprises, always making something special happen at every concert,” said Woods,  “but these last few years when we discovered that not only could we play Mahler here, but do it rather well, are ones I’ll always remember.”

Woods has agreed to stay on as musical advisor, to assist the OES board with the search for a new music director and to oversee programming and artistic planning until a new conductor is in place. He is also scheduled to conduct the first concert of next season. “I’m pleased that Ken has made himself available in this capacity,” says OES Executive Director, Christina van der Kamp, “in addition to his talent as a conductor, he has always been a wonderful professional resource for the organization and has provided a valuable connection to the larger symphonic music world.”

Once he moves on from Pendleton, Woods’ will continue his busy schedule of conducting orchestras across Britain and the US, and broadcast work with the BBC. He recently signed a recording contract with Avie Records and will begin recording the first disk with the Northern Sinfonia next September.  He will also continue to travel to Portland each summer to direct the Rose City International Conductors Workshop, which he founded in 2005, and now one of the premiere summer training institutes for up-and-coming conducting talent in the US .

For further information contact:

Christina van der Kamp

Executive Director


(541) 276-0320

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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6 comments on “Oregon East Symphony Press Release-”

  1. Kenneth Woods

    Hi all-

    Needless to say, I’ll have my own comments on this here soon, but I didn’t want Vftp readers to find out after readers of the local rag. Stay tuned


  2. Anna

    Looking forward to hearing more….and congratulations on the contract with Avie records, sounds exciting!

  3. Travis

    I knew it was coming but I’m still sad for Pendleton. I think you’ve done a marvelous job and I hope to play one last time under your baton this year.

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