Simon Woods Appointed Executive Director of Seattle Symphony

Woods is Currently Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Seattle, WA – The Seattle Symphony Board of Directors has named orchestra and recording industry executive Simon Woods as its new Executive Director. Woods joins the organization at a key time as Seattle Symphony celebrates the leadership of its Music Director of 26 years, Gerard Schwarz, and prepares to welcome Music Director Designate, Ludovic Morlot, who will become Music Director in the 2011– 2012 season. Woods will begin working with Seattle Symphony immediately on key institutional decisions, and will take up his new role full-time in May 2011.

Woods comes to Seattle from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, one of the United Kingdom's leading symphony orchestras, where he is Chief Executive. He has achieved considerable success there in the areas of artistic leadership, fund raising, marketing, public relations, and education and community engagement. Prior to this, Woods worked in the United States as President and CEO of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and as Vice President, Artistic Planning and Operations, at The Philadelphia Orchestra. Earlier, he worked in London as a record producer with EMI Classics, where he initiated and produced recordings with many of the world's foremost classical artists and ensembles.

"Simon Woods is a proven leader in our field, and we are excited he will become our organization's next Executive Director," Board of Directors Chair Leslie Jackson Chihuly stated. "His passion for symphonic music and creating enthusiasm for the art form in the community is inspiring, and his experience in the executive role is key to fulfilling the objectives in our strategic plan. He is well suited to ensure a smooth transition for all of our constituents as we move from artistic leadership under our esteemed Music Director, Gerard Schwarz, to the new leadership of Maestro Ludovic Morlot."

"The Seattle Symphony is a great orchestra, based in one of the finest modern concert halls in the world, in a vibrant and beautiful city," commented Woods. "The organization is highly energized right now as it celebrates the incredible legacy of Gerard Schwarz and prepares for a new era under its much-admired new music director. It's a privilege to join the team at this tremendous moment. In particular, I look forward to being part of the special relationship that Seattle Symphony has with the people of this great city, and finding new ways to inspire as many people as possible, from all ages and all backgrounds, with the Symphony's world-class music-making."

"I've worked with Simon both in Philadelphia and New Jersey and found him to be an outstanding leader with an infectious passion for orchestras," commented Schwarz. "He has very deep knowledge of music and, most importantly, he is a man of impeccable taste and integrity."

Music Director Designate Ludovic Morlot stated, "I am thrilled to welcome Simon Woods as the new Executive Director of the Seattle Symphony. I look forward to our creative partnership with great anticipation. Simon is simply brilliant and this appointment is a vital step as the Orchestra continues to build a beautiful future for itself."

"The musicians enthusiastically welcome Simon Woods," said Timothy Hale, Violist, Chair of the Players' Organization, and member of the Executive Director Search Committee. "He has demonstrated wisdom, vision and strong leadership while serving in the administrations of other major orchestras. Most importantly, he understands the pursuit of artistic excellence. He will be a dynamic partner with the musicians and Maestro Morlot as we move forward together."

As Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) since August 2005, Woods has led the orchestra through a period that is considered to be among the most successful in its recent history, with the introduction of new concert series, significant increase in the orchestra's commitment to young people, innovative community engagement programs, the expansion of international touring, and an increased presence on radio and recordings. He also launched a major fund-raising initiative that generated significant new annual fund donations, and more than doubled the number of subscribers.

From 1997 to 2005, Woods worked in the United States. From 2004–2005, he was President and CEO of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, leading the orchestra through a period of major and positive change as it experienced institutional upheaval. From 1997 to 2004, Woods was Artistic Administrator, and later, Vice President, Artistic Planning and Operations at The Philadelphia Orchestra, working closely with Music Directors Wolfgang Sawallisch and Christoph Eschenbach, overseeing touring, operations, recordings, broadcasting, education and community partnerships, and the orchestra's operational relationship with the Kimmel Center.

From 1988 to 1997, Woods worked in London as a record producer with EMI Classics where he initiated, planned, budgeted, produced and edited recordings with many of the world's foremost classical artists and ensembles. Earlier, he managed corporate sponsorships for the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He holds a music degree from the University of Cambridge, England, and a postgraduate diploma in conducting from the Guildhall School of Music in London.

Woods, who is British, is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of British Orchestras. From 1999 to 2002 he was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Composers Forum. During his time in the United States he was an active participant in the League of American Orchestras' professional development programs, and has led seminars on concert programming and artistic administration.

Woods and his wife, Karin Brookes, will relocate to Seattle along with their 12-year-old son, Barnaby, and 9-year-old daughter, Isabel.

Seattle Symphony PR

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa