Welcome to the website of Kenneth Woods

Welcome to the website of Kenneth Woods

Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of Colorado MahlerFest, Artistic Director of the Elgar Festival, and a guest conductor of orchestras, new music ensembles and opera companies worldwide. A frequent broadcaster, his blog, A View from the Podium, is one of most popular classical blogs in the world today.

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21st C Symphony Project

21st C Symphony Project

Learn more about the 21st C. Symphony Project, Ken and the ESO's ambitious plan to commission, record and premiere nine new symphonies by nine leading international composers

Gramophone Magazine 2017 Critics' Choice Best of the Year

“The importance of Woods’s initiative is greatly significant, and to judge by Philip Sawyers’s Third Symphony
the plan has got off to an excellent start….Sawyers is a natural symphonist… This Symphony, like the songcycle,
is a masterpiece” Robert Matthew-Walker, ClassicalSource.

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Jane Eyre- The Opera

Jane Eyre- The Opera

One of the most highly praised new operas premiered in recent years.

2016 Classical Music Magazine Premiere of the Year
2016 Birmingham Post Top Classical Event of the Year
2017 MusicWeb Record of the Year
Five Stars Musical Opinion

On tour from 2018-19. Learn more

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A New Golden Age for Musical Storytelling

A New Golden Age for Musical Storytelling

These new works, not available anywhere else, can be heard in individually curated programmes to suit any occasion alongside music from major film scores, classics of the storytelling repertoire and classical favourites.
They’re perfect for seasonal concerts, too.

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Ken's Winter and Spring 2019 Highlights

26 and 27 January - Ken conducts an exciting all-Dvořák programme (8th Symphony, Violin Concerto and Slavonic Dances opus 72) with the English Symphony Orchestra and soloist Pavel Šporcl 

31 January - Ken conducts the North Czech Philharmonic in a festive concert featuring works by Dvořák and Reicha in Prague Castle

16 February - Ken conducts Act One of Wagner's Die Walküre in the Swan Theatre, Worcester, with Stacey Rishoi as Sieglinde, Brennen Guillory as Siegmund and Matthew Sharp as Hunding

3 March - The English String Orchestra give the first performance of Ken's new orchestration of Tchaikovsky's Third String Quartet. The programme also includes Kapralova's Partia for Piano and Mozart's Piano Concerto in C major with Noriko Ogawa

9 March - Ken conducts the English String Orchestra in Dvořák's String Serenade and the Concerto for String Orchestra by Bacewicz in Malvern Priory

2 April - Ken makes his long awaited return to the Orchestra of the Swan in a concert including the Adagio from Mahler's 10th Symphony, David Matthews' Viola Concerto "Winter Remembered" and Britten's Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge

3 April - Ken conducts the English Symphony Orchestra in Mendelssohn's 4th Symphony and the Schumann Violin Concerto with Zoë Beyers. Author and critic, Jessica Duchen, will be on hand to discuss her acclaimed novel, Ghost Variations, which tells the remarkable story of how Schumann's long-lost last masterpiece came to light.

4-6 April - Ken records three new symphonies by Christopher Gunning for Signum Records with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales

28 April - Ken conducts the English String Orchestra at King's Place, London as part of the Venus Unwrapped series.

3 May - Nimbus Records release Ken's recording of David Matthews's Ninth Symphony, Variations for Strings and Double Concerto with the English Symphony Orchestra and English String Orchestra

11-19 May - Ken returns to Colorado MahlerFest. MahlerFest embarks on its historic fourth complete cycle of Mahler symphonies with his visionary First Symphony. Highlights to include an exploration of Beethoven's influence on Mahler, the Korngold Violin Concerto and the US professional premiere of Woods' acclaimed orchestration of Viktor Ullmann's 3rd String Quartet.

28 May - Another exciting concert with the Orchestra of the Swan including the world premiere of David Matthews' new song cycle, Le Lac, with soprano April Fredrick. Ken also conducts the chamber version of Mahler's Fourth Symphony by Klaus Simon and his own mashup "Death and the Maiden: Variations and Lied" by Franz Schubert.

30 May- 2 June - Ken returns as Artistic Director of the Elgar Festival in Worcester. The inaugural festival was a Critic's Pick in The Times and The Guardian. This year's festival includes a celebration of the centenary of Elgar's iconic Cello Concerto with Raphael Wallfisch and a string orchestra concert that culminates in a performance of Donald Fraser's acclaimed arrangement of Elgar's Sea Pictures for Choir and Strings

9 June - Ken and the English Symphony Orchestra take the stage at Cadogan Hall, London, for the third concert in their celebrated 21st C. Symphony Project. The concert features two 5th symphonies, the world premiere of the Fifth Symphony of Matthew Taylor, and the most famous 5th of them all, Beethoven's. 

Ken's Recent Recordings

Johanness Brahms arr. Kenneth Woods- Piano Quartet in A major

"Wood’s achievement, made over several years and then revised in time for this recording, is considerable and imaginative" - Classical Source

Sawyers- Symphony no. 3, Songs of Loss and Regret, Fanfare

Critics' Choice- Best Recordings of 2017, Gramophone Magazine

"Kenneth Woods is a passionate and convincing advocate for this music - as indeed he was for the 2nd Symphony - and the accompanying works on that disc - too. But this is evidenced by as compelling a first recording as I could imagine these works receiving. " Nick Barnard- MusicWeb International

Kenneth Woods Conducts Orchestral Music of Philip Sawyers

“Sawyers’ thrilling orchestral music truly captivates, aided and abetted by pitch-perfect soloists Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin) and Simon Desbruslais (trumpet) and the ESO.” BBC Music Magazine

"...probing intensity....The English SO are unfailingly committed in the perceptive hands of Kenneth Woods." Gramophone Magazine

"Five stars" The Birmingham Post

Ernst Krenek- Complete Piano Concertos, volume 2

Forbes' Magazine- Best Classical Recordings of 2017

Classical Candor - Favourite Recordings of 2017

Five Stars- International Piano Magazine

John Joubert- Jane Eyre: An opera in two acts

"Recording of the Year, 2017" MusicWeb International

"Kenneth Woods conducted an on-fire English Symphony Orchestra, an array of soloists was headed by the totally committed April Fredrick and David Stout as Jane and Rochester, and the audience response to this gloriously lyrical, excitingly dramatic score was immense." Chris Morley- Birmingham Post

Elgar arr. Fraser- Piano Quintet and Sea Pictures, Kenneth Woods, English Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra

“…gorgeous depths of tone…a worthy addition to the Elgar canon” Classical Music Magazine

"...beautifully realised, performed with warmth and understanding, and sympathetically recorded..." Stephen Johnson- BBC Music Magazine