By Jacob Stockinger
Today marks the start of Thanksgiving week, typically a slow time – though hardly a dead quiet time — for live classical music before the accelerating rush toward the winter intermission over the holiday season. It’s the time when classical music gradually gives way, appropriately, to holiday music, both secular and sacred, classical and popular.
Several factors make this a good time, then, to celebrate a special man and musician who is also a good friend of the blog. So The Well-Tempered Ear is devoting this week – with the exception of a Wednesday break for the usual Best Bets and special Thanksgiving piece on Thursday — to Kenneth Woods (below) and calling it “Kenneth Woods Week.”
Specifically, we will be looking Woods’ career and at how Woods is working with AVIE Records on the rediscovery and revival of the Viennese composer Hans Gal (1890-1987, below) — with great enough success that even more Gal recordings are in store.
Woods – who will be hosting Thanksgiving for American ex-patriots at his home in Cardiff, Wales — is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Music with a master’s degree in cello performance in 1993. (As an undergraduate, he attended Indiana University 1986-1990.)
He is now the conductor of the Orchestra of the Swan (see the link below) and is based in Cardiff, Wales.
He has returned to guest conduct the UW Symphony Orchestra.
He has made recordings of previously unknown repertoire.
He travels around the United Kingdom and the world doing guests appearances and he recently made headlines in a charity concert rededicating a renovated concert hall with the patron Her Royal Highness Camilla Parker-Bowles in attendance. Here is a link to a detailed review:
Amid all his activities, however, Woods does not forget his alma mater.
He has returned to teach at the annual summer clinics for middle school and high schools students, and he has worked with UW students.
Woods, himself a cellist before he turned to conducting, has also booked UW professor and cellist Parry Karp to give his first public performance of Edward Elgar’s Cello Concert this past week.
(Woods is an avid fan of and specialist in Elgar and last year conducted the UW Symphony Orchestra in Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 – a work far less well-known than it should be, given that it is done the composer of the famous Cello Concerto and the “Enigma” Variations.
Here is a link to his impressive website, which includes his impressive bio, his enormous repertoire list as well as his debut recording and its great reviews and a list of his honors and awards:
Here is a link to his informative blog, “A View From the Podium”:
Here is a summary of Woods’ career highlights from Wikipedia:
This is not the first time this blog has focused on Wood:
If all this seems excessive, wait until you see what we will be dealing with.
And take a look at his long list of guest conducting stints. Woods is clearly a young musician on the move. We will hearing more from him and more about him on both sides of The Pond.
There are quite a few YouTube videos of Woods to enjoy.
Here he is conducting the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra in the first song from Mahler’s “Kindertotenlieder”:
And here is conducting the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra in the first movement of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5.
Tomorrow: Reviving and recording the music of Hans Gal, Part 1