The English Symphony Orchestra has promoted Kenneth Woods to the position of principal conductor - the first time the orchestra has appointed a conductor to the role since former principal Vernon Handley died in 2008. Woods was named artistic director of the ESO’s Malvern-based subscription series in 2012.
‘We started exploring possibilities with Ken towards the end of last year, asking him to curate the Malvern concert series during 2013, at the end of which we planned to take stock,’ said ESO CEO Peter Sheeran. ‘In the event, his involvement with the different elements that make up the ESO has been a shot in the arm for us and we see every reason to bring forward his appointment. We are announcing our new season next month and want to have Ken at the forefront of it.’
Woods is also principal guest conductor of the Orchestra of the Swan, with whom he has made a series of recordings of the symphonies of Hans Gál and Robert Schumann for Avie. (Read his blog for Gramophone on his Gál/Schumann series here.) He has recorded with the Northern Sinfonia and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, too, and in August makes his first recording with the English Chamber Orchestra.
The Worcestershire-based ESO was founded by conductor William Boughton as the English String Orchestra in 1978. Its reputation for the performance of English music grew rapidly with a number of recordings and European tours to its name. As the orchestra’s repertoire expanded to include the full breadth of orchestral music, the ESO became the English Symphony Orchestra. Today the orchestra performs not only in the concert hall, but also in schools, care homes and hospices.