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Woods pursued advanced conducting studies at the University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music and studied at other summer institutes and workshops. He studied conducting with Leonard Slatkin, David Zinman, Jorma Panula, Murry Sidlin, Robert Spano, and Gerhard Samuel.
In Spring, 2000, David Zinman selected Woods to be a fellow in the inaugural class of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. In Spring, 2001, Woods was selected by Leonard Slatkin as one of four participants in the Kennedy Center National Conducting Institute. At the completion of the Institute, he led the National Symphony Orchestra in a debut concert, drawing a return invitation from the NSO.
Woods was music director of the Grande Ronde Symphony from 1999 to 2002, and the Oregon East Symphony since 2000. At the OES he was the founding artistic director of a new training orchestra and training institute and oversaw an expansion of educational and outreach activities. He has led the creation and programming of educational concert series, been active in community outreach and as a collaborator with music educators.
In 2009, he was appointed principal guest conductor of the Orchestra of the Swan. With them he made a series of recordings for Avie, Nimbus, Signum, and MRS records and conducted the orchestra in world premiere performances.
In 2013, he became principal conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra/English String Orchestra and in 2016 was made the orchestra's artistic director. At the ESO he has expanded the orchestra's role in commissioning, premiering and recording new work. Among their projects is the 21st Century Symphony Project- a multi-year endeavor to commission, premiere and record nine new symphonies by nine different composers. He has focused on restoring to the repertoire lost and forgotten works by composers who were killed or forced into exile by the Nazis, including Hans Gál, Viktor Ullmann, and Ernst Krenek.
In 2015, he took over the leadership of Colorado MahlerFest. As the festival's second artistic director, Woods established a new training institute for young conductors (the Mahler Conducting Fellowship), a chair for an annual visiting composer, and an expansion of the festival's chamber music and contemporary music offerings.
Woods's work in the recording studio includes a number of recordings of the music of the long-neglected Austrian composer Hans Gál (1890-1987).
He is music director and conductor of the Oregon East Symphony and Chorale. He also serves as the principal guest conductor of the Rose City Chamber Orchestra and music director of Surrey Mozart Players. Woods was an assistant conductor at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops.
Orchestras he has worked with include the National Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Wrexham Symphony Orchestra, and the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra. Work at music festivals has included Aspen, Lucerne, Round Top, and Scotia. He has been involved in broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, National Public Radio, and CBC Radio 2.
Woods has conducted productions of operas from Britten to Puccini, and ballet scores such as Giselle, The Nutcracker, The Firebird, and Konservatoriet. Woods's activities as a proponent of contemporary music include collaborations as a conductor or cellist with such figures as John Corigliano, Krzysztof Penderecki, Peter Lieberson, Oliver Knussen, and others.
Woods was invited by the Rose City Chamber Orchestra to start a new international workshop for young conductors. The Rose City International Conductor's Workshop has since become a training center for emerging conductors. Woods has also taught conducting in master classes organized by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and is a consultant and adjudicator at institutions such as the Royal College of Music.
As a cellist, Woods has been a recipient of the Aspen Fellowship, the Dale Gilbert Award, the Strelow Quartet Fellowship, and the National Endowment for the Arts Rural Residency Grant. He has also recorded and toured as cello soloist and chamber musician. He has played chamber music with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He was founding cellist of the Taliesin Trio and of the Masala Quartet, who have recorded for Vienna Modern Masters. In 2006 he became a founding artist of the Clocktower Chamber Music Festival in Durango, Colorado. In 2008, he became artist in residence at the Ischia Chamber Music Festival and founding cellist of the string trio, Ensemble Epomeo, with whom he toured the United States and Europe in 2009.
Woods is also the author of a blog, A View from the Podium.
- "Kenneth Woods". English Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
- Hickling, Alfred (April 24, 2017). "ESO/Woods review – Pritchard's vibrant violin concerto captures sound of the sea". The Guardian. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
- "Review: Kenneth Woods makes shattering impact at MahlerFest". Retrieved May 4, 2018.
- Midgette, Anne. "Little-known composers get their due in the studio if not the concert hall". The Washington Post, August 10, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
- "On the Downbeat- Up and Coming Conductors," Joe Banno, Washington Post, July 2, 2001
- "Scotia Festival of Music on Home Stretch," Stephen Pedersen, Halifax Mail Star, June 7, 1997
- "Reading the Score and So Much More," Tim Page, Washington Post, June 24, 2001
- "Round Up the Usual Suspects," David Stabler, The Oregonian, May 27, 2007
- "Too Few American Maestros? Try Making Them," James Oestreich, New York Times, June 24, 2001
- "Conductors Showcase at Roundtop," Jerry Young, Austin American Statesman, June 23, 1999
- "New Direction for NPO," Peter Palmer, Nottingham Evening Post, October 25, 2006
- "Conductor Says Arts at Risk When Funders Call the Tune," Western Mail, June 2, 2008
- "Student Conductors Learn Secrets of the Bataon," The Oregonian, August 2, 2008