Hailed as a conductor with 'gusto and exuberance' (Jim McDonald, the Boston Musical Intelligencer) whose performances have 'dynamic and immersing outcomes' (John Galigour, the Sun Valley News), and recognized for her 'intelligent and out of the ordinary programming' (Vance Koven, Boston Musical Intelligencer), Cynthia Woods has become a recognized and respected conductor in the Boston community and beyond. The Music Director for the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra and NEC Prep String Repertory Orchestra, Woods is also a frequent guest conductor, having performed across the US, Europe, and South America.
Woods began her conducting career with a literal bang, making her debut with Stravinsky’s iconic masterwork The Rite of Spring and the massive 118-piece Worcester Consortium Orchestra. Since then she has gone on to a successful career, winning acclaim in all idioms, including opera, choral, chamber, and symphonic orchestra. While she is profoundly committed to new music—she has collaborated with some of today’s most respected living composers, such as Joan Tower, Lisa Bielawa and Harold Farberman—she is also known for her interpretations of the great masters. From her "haunting" performance of Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony op. 110a, to her first Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with The Boston Globe’s 1995 "Musician of the Year" baritone Robert Honeysucker, she has received ovations and recognition from audience and critics alike. In concert she has performed with some of the world's finest soloists, including Alexander Korsantia, Irina Muresanu, Allison Eldredge, Peter Zazofsky, Bayla Keyes, Jonathan Bass, Joseph Foley, and Sergey Schepkin.
Along with her conducting activities, Woods is also a frequent speaker and writer. She has been a guest lecturer at institutions such as MIT and the Longy School of Music of Bard College, a panelist for radio shows such as WGBH’s Callie Crossley, and a frequent contributor to The Boston Herald’s State of the Arts blog.
Woods began her musical studies as a violinist, focusing heavily on chamber music. Her undergraduate quartet scholarship at the University of Colorado Boulder allowed her to study side by side with the Grammy award-winning Takács Quartet. Additional work with members of the celebrated Muir and Stanford String Quartets followed. Eventually she turned her attention to the podium, earning an M.M. and Artist Diploma from the Hartt School of Music, where she was the recipient of the Dean’s Talent Scholarship Award for the duration of her study there. Along with her conducting and violin studies, she was awarded a full fellowship to study composition at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. In addition to her current roles as Music Director and guest conductor, Woods also serves on the faculty of New England Conservatory’s Department of Preparatory and Continuing Studies.
Woods holds a Bachelors of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a Masters of Music and Artist Diploma from the Hartt School of music in Conducting.
Photo by Susan Wilson