The Stratford-Upon-Avon based Orchestra of the Swan have announced the appointment of American musician Kenneth Woods as their Principal Guest Conductor from 2010.
Woods, who just completed his tenure as Music Director of the Oregon East Symphony made his debut with Orchestra of the Swan conducting a Haydn anniversary concert at the Shakespeare Summer Proms in June. Woods recently made his first recordings with Northern Sinfonia for Avie Records and has been an active collaborator with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Contemporary Music Ensemble of Wales. In 2001, Leonard Slatkin selected Woods as one of four “Debut Conductors” in the National Conducting Institute, where he conducted the National Symphony in a performance that led the Washington Post to hail him as “a true star” and an “up and coming conductor.” He is particularly known for his performances of Haydn, Schumann and Mahler, and his interest in contemporary music.
Artistic director David Curtis announced Woods’ appointment, saying “We are absolutely delighted that Ken has accepted this appointment with Orchestra of the Swan. His performance with OOTS last season was acclaimed by orchestra and audience and I know the players are looking forward to working to working with Ken in the future. This is a very ambitious time in the orchestra’s development and Ken’s skills on the podium combined with his energy and creative vision for the orchestra’s future make this a very exciting appointment.”
Woods expressed his excitement at the opportunity to work with one of the UK’s most flexible and ambitious ensembles, commenting that “It was immediately obvious when I started working with the orchestra in June that this is an outstanding group of musicians and artists, with an unusual degree of commitment and cohesion. They’re deeply invested in the orchestra, and that engagement comes through in their performances. It’s a huge tribute to David’s leadership and vision that this young organization combines such artistic maturity with such energy and creativity. I couldn’t be more excited about working with them musically or more optimistic about what the organization can accomplish.”
Woods is expected to make his first recordings with the orchestra in Spring of 2010, and the orchestra indicated that concert dates will be announced in the coming months.
Under the direction of Artistic Director David Curtis, Orchestra of the Swan has achieved national recognition for outstanding performances combined with innovative programming and a highly accessible style of presentation with pre-concert talks, introductions from the podium and post concert ‘conversation club’.
Orchestra of the Swan is a major champion of new music, commissioning more new work than almost any other chamber orchestra in the UK. Over the last 5 years OOTS has commissioned over 50 new works from composers including John Woolrich, Tansy Davies, Joe Duddell, Joseph Phibbs, Errollyn Wallen, Paul Patterson, Alexander Goehr, John Joubert and many others.
The Orchestra’s home is at the Civic Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon where it has been based since its inception; however it has also had residencies in Cheltenham, Redditch and Bedworth and performs at major concert venues and festivals including Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Warwick Arts Centre, St John’s Smith Square London, the Three Choirs Festival, St George’s Brandon Hill Bristol, Lichfield Festival and Deal Festival. Orchestra of the Swan is now an Associate Ensemble for the Town Hall, Birmingham and is the driving force behind the new Spring Sounds Festival which took place in Stratford-upon-Avon with Tasmin Little as Artistic Director in May 2008.
The orchestra’s performances receive widespread critical acclaim in the national and regional media and are frequently chosen as Pick of the Week in The Guardian and Daily Telegraph. Their debut recording on the Somm Classical lable has received widespread critical acclaim and in June 2008 Orchestra of the Swan appeared on The South Bank Show with Tasmin Little.
Orchestra of the Swan will be making their London debut on Wednesday, October 28 in Cadogan Hall in a concert featuring clarinettist Sarah Williamson. The programme includes works of Copland and Barber and the premiere of a new concerto by Phibbs, to be recorded alongside those of Finzi and Copland the following week. More information is available at www.cadoganhall.com
More on Orchestra of the Swan at www.orchestraoftheswan.org
More on Kenneth Woods at www.kennethwoods.net
More on David Curtis at www.davidconductor.com
Questions and requests for comment to-
Orchestra of the Swan