Repertoire Report- KW, 2014

Well, it’s nearly time to say “so long” to another year, and as we work our way through Christmas leftovers and brace for the struggles and adventures that lay ahead, it’s navel-gazing season at Vftp, when we look back at the musical year just past.

The Repertoire Report project has been an interesting one (at least to me) over the years- it’s a way to see what people are up to from year to year and to compare various conductors’ workloads and approaches to programming.

A number of things stand out to me in this year’s Report. Looking at the “most popular” KW-composers in 2014, it’s no surprise that Mozart is the winner- he often has been. On the other hand, a few years back one would never have guessed that Vaughan Williams would be in second place on a KW repertoire list. Getting to do more of RVW’s music over the last few years has been a real revelation for me, and I hope to continue to add more of his music to my repertoire this year. I’d done the Fifth Symphony and and the Tallis Fantasia before, but the Fourth Symphony was an incredible project, and my young colleagues from the Kent County Youth Orchestra played it with ferocious commitment in April. I’ve wanted to do RVW’s “On Wenlock Edge” for many years, but as is so often the case, my admiration for the piece deepened greatly as I learned it.

In the midst of my mini-immersion in the  music of RVW, I was repeatedly inspired by my conversations about his music with ESO composer-in-association John McCabe, who knows and reveres Vaughan Williams’s music like few others. It was a real honor to have him present in Kent for our performance of the RVW Fourth and to play the Tallis Fantasia alongside John’s “Pilgrim” twice.  Fortunately, the year has afforded me a number of opportunities to perform John’s music, and Signum have just released our recording of his trumpet concerto “La Primavera” which is a very important addition to the trumpet literature. For me, the high point of working with John’s music this year was getting to conduct “Pilgrim” for Double String Orchestra twice. It’s a masterpiece- a hugely, hugely important addition to the elite list of the very greatest works for string orchestra. It’s a deeply moving work with a potent mixture of intensity and grandeur, wedded to an astounding depth of craftsmanship. We hope to play it again often.

Dvorak was a big winner this year- I LOVED doing the Fifth Symphony, a work I’d occasionally found problematic as a listener but grew to admire enormously as I studied it. The fall off in popularity of Dvorak’s music after the five or six big hits is a complete mystery to me. The Fifth should be just as engaging for any audience as the New World- while Dvorak’s later work wins points on craft and economy of means, the earlier astounds for the wealth of ideas and thrilling energy of the Finale. It was a pretty good year for Mahler- three symphonies, including my first full public performance of the Seventh, which was a hoot.

Of course, there were some painful omissions from the repertoire list. Many of my favorite 20th c. composers were absent, including Janacek, Debussy, Stravinsky, Messiaen and Bartók. What a waste of a year of one’s life to miss out on doing anything by these giants for an entire year. The biggest omission, however, must be that of Robert Schumann, whose music was agonizingly absent from my calendar for the first time in well over a decade if not more. This is all the more bizarre given that we just completed our Schumann cycle with the Orchestra of the Swan in December of 2013. Fingers crossed that 2015 brings more Bobby!

(This was literally the last Schumann I conducted- the recording incorporates the last several minutes of our concert performance, the ending of our four-year Bobby and Hans mega-adventure)

On the other hand, it was a good year for the music of living composers- lots of performances, a healthy number of premieres and some very exciting recordings. I hope that’s a trend that will continue next year- there are many exciting things in the pipeline!

This year’s balance of cello to conducting seemed to show a slight shift toward more cello, but no concerti for the first time in a few years. That’s fine with me- the best music for cello is the chamber repertoire, and I got to play many of the greatest things in the literature this year.

So then, without further ado, here are the stats!

[If you would like to contribute to the Repertoire Report project, please send your listing of works performed in the last calendar year in alphabetical order to]
* Performances in multiple venues/series= 12

# New to KW repertoire= 28

World-premieres= 7

Number of composers= 49

National premieres= 3

Living composers performed= 15

Works by living composers= 19


Most popular composers

Five works-

  • Mozart

Four Works-

  • Dvorak
  • Vaughan Williams

Three works-

  • Beethoven
  • Mahler
  • John McCabe
  • Schubert
  • Strauss

Two works-

  • Grieg
  • Haydn
  • Jay Reise
  • Tchaikovsky
  • Thomas Whitman

Kenneth Woods- 2o14 Repertoire Report

  1. Bach arr. Sitkovetsky- “Goldberg Variations” # *
  2. Barber Cello Concerto
  3. Beethoven- String Trio in C minor Opus 9 no. 3
  4. Beethoven- Symphony no. 2 in D major
  5. Beethoven- Symphony no. 4
  6. Victoria Bond- Quartet for Shakuhachi and String Trio (World Premiere) #
  7. Brahms Serenade No. 1
  8. Britten- Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings #
  9. Butterworth- The Banks of Green Willow #
  10. Cohen- Two Cello Duos (UK Premiere) #
  11. Copland- Appalachian Spring
  12. Emily Doolittle- “falling still” for Violin and strings (UK Premiere)
  13. Dvorak – Serenade for Wind Instruments
  14. Dvorak- Serenade for Strings
  15. Dvorak- Symphony no. 5 #
  16. Dvorak- Symphony no. 8 in G Major
  17. Elgar- Introduction and Allegro for Strings
  18. Hans Gál – Divertimento for Winds #
  19. Grieg- Selections from Peer Gynt
  20. Grieg-Piano Concerto in A minor
  21. Haydn- Cello Concerto in C Major
  22. Haydn- Symphony no. 44 “Trauer” #
  23. Kurtág- Signs, Games and Messages
  24. LePage/Schubert- Sleep Softly in My Arms #
  25. Levinson- Three Fables
  26. Andrew Keeling- Piano Trio “Unquiet Earth” #
  27. Mahler- Symphony no. 4
  28. Mahler Symphony no. 5
  29. Mahler Symphony no. 7 #
  30. John McCabe- Red Leaves #
  31. John McCabe- “Pilgrim” for Double String Orchestra * #
  32. McCabe Trumpet Concerto “La Primavera”
  33. McIver- Fantasia on Theme of Glennys Pierce # (world premiere)
  34. Mendelssohn- Cello Sonata
  35. Mozart- Oboe Quartet
  36. Mozart- Clarinet Quintet
  37. Mozart- Overture “The Impressario”
  38. Mozart arr. Triebensee  –Harmonium selections fromDon Giovanni 
  39. Mozart- Symphony no 29 in A Major
  40. Thea Musgrave- Green for String Orchestra #
  41. Paganini Violin Concerto No. 1
  42. Penderecki- String Trio *
  43. Deborah Pritchard- Violin Concerto “Wall of Water” (World Premiere) #
  44. Prokofiev A Summer Day – a suite for children #
  45. Ravel- Le Tombeau de Couperin
  46. Jay Reise- String Trio (world-premiere) *
  47. Jay Reise- “The Warrior Violinist” for Violin, Cello and Narrator
  48. Rossini- Overture to William Tell
  49. Kaija Saariaho- “Terra memoria” for String Orchestra (UK Premiere) #
  50. Saint-Saens- Cello Concerto no. 2 in D minor
  51. James Schlefer- “Sidewalk Dances”for Shakuhachi and Cello (world premiere) #
  52. Schnittke- String Trio *
  53. Schubert- Cello Quintet *
  54. Schubert- String Trio in B flat
  55. Schubert- Symphony no. 3
  56. Shostakovich- Chamber Symphony op 110a
  57. Sibelius- En Saga #
  58. Sibelius- Violin Concerto
  59. Strauss- Duet Concertino #
  60. Strauss- Oboe Concerto
  61. Strauss- Serenade for Winds
  62. Tchaikovsky- Serenade for Strings #
  63. Tchaikovsky- Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
  64. Telemann Trumpet Concerto
  65. Tippett- Concerto for Double String Orchestra # *
  66. Ullmann/Woods- Chamber Symphony op 46a
  67. Vaughan Williams- On Wenlock Edge #
  68. Vaughan Williams- Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis *
  69. Vaughan Williams- Symphony no. 4 #
  70. Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 5
  71. Weber Euryanthe Overture #
  72. Weinberg- String Trio * #
  73. Tom Whitman- “Fire Down Below” for mezzo soprano and string trio(world premiere) * #
  74. Tom Whitman- Two scenes from “Fire Down Below” for String Trio (world premiere) *

Past KW Repertoire Reports:












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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

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