Hailed by The Guardian as “a cellist of power and grace” who possesses “mature artistry and willingness to go to the brink,” cellist Seth Parker Woods has established his reputation as a versatile artist and innovator across multiple genres. His projects delve deep into our cultural fabric, reimagining traditional works and commissioning new ones to propel classical music into the future. Woods is a recipient of the 2022 Chamber Music America Michael Jaffee Visionary Award.
In the 2022-2023 season, Woods premieres a new version of his evening-length, multimedia tour de force Difficult Grace at 92Y, UCLA, and Chicago’s Harris Theater; curates and performs a program honoring the centennial of composer George Walker at The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.; premieres Freida Abtan’s My Heart is a River, commissioned by the Seattle Symphony; and performs a world premiere by Anna Thorvaldsdottir at Carnegie Hall as part of Claire Chase’s Density Series. The Great Northern Festival in Minneapolis will present Woods in his critically acclaimed performance installation, Iced Bodies, in which Woods, in a wetsuit, plays an obsidian ice cello.
Recital appearances this season include concerts with pianist Andrew Rosenblum at Dumbarton Oaks in D.C., Boston's Isabella Gardner Museum, and The Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills, and a return to his former home Brussels for a solo recital at Das Haus. He also tours to Washington Performing Arts, Krannert Center, Stanford Live, California Center for the Arts, Count Basie Center for the Arts, Auburn University, and Emory University with the Chad Lawson Trio. In addition, Woods will hold residencies at Montclair State University and Oberlin Conservatory. The season will also see the release of a new solo album on Cedille Records and the soundtrack of the PBS documentary The U.S. and the Holocaust – a film by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein – to which Woods contributed.
In addition to solo performances, he has appeared with the ICTUS Ensemble (Brussels, BE), Ensemble L’Arsenale (IT), zone Experimental (CH), Basel Sinfonietta (CH), Ensemble LPR, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Atlanta and Seattle Symphonies, and in chamber music with violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist Andreas Haefliger. A fierce advocate for contemporary arts, Woods has collaborated and worked with a wide range of artists ranging from the likes of Louis Andriessen, Elliott Carter, Heinz Holliger, G. F. Haas, Helmut Lachenmann, Klaus Lang, and Peter Eötvos to Peter Gabriel, Sting, Lou Reed, Dame Shirley Bassey, and Rachael Yamagata to such visual artists as Ron Athey, Vanessa Beecroft, Jack Early, Adam Pendleton, and Aldo Tambellini. In the 2021-2022 season, he premiered concertos by Rebecca Saunders and Tyshawn Sorey.
In recent years, Woods has appeared in concert at the Royal Albert Hall – BBC Proms, Aspen Music Festival, Ojai Festival, Snape Maltings Festival, the Ghent Festival, Washington Performing Arts, Strathmore, Musée d’art Moderne et Contemporain, Le Poisson Rougel, Cafe OTO, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Klang Festival-Durham, INTER/ actions Symposium, ICMC-SMS Conference (Athens, GR), NIME-London, Sound and Body Festival, Instalakcje Festival, Virginia Tech, La Salle College (Singapore), and FINDARS (Malaysia), amongst others. Recent awards include a DCASE artist grant, Earle Brown/ Morton Feldman Foundation Grant, McGill University-CIRMMT/IDMIL Visiting Researcher Residency, Centre Intermondes Artist Residency, Francis Chagrin Award, Concours [Re]connaissance-Premiere Prix, and the Paul Sacher Stiftung Research Scholarship.
His debut solo album, asinglewordisnotenough (Confront Recordings-London), has garnered great acclaim since its release in November 2016 and has been profiled in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, The Guardian, 5against4, I Care If You Listen, Musical America, Seattle Times, and Strings Magazine, amongst others.
Woods recently joined the faculty of the Thornton School of Music at The University of Southern California as Assistant Professor of Practice - Cello and Chamber Music. He previously served on the faculties of the University at Buffalo, University of Chicago, Dartmouth College, and the Chicago Academy of the Arts and as Artist in Residence at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music and Northwestern University - Center for New Music. Woods holds degrees from Brooklyn College, Musik Akademie der Stadt Basel, and a PhD from the University of Huddersfield. In the 2020-21 season, he was an Artist in Residence with the Kaufman Music Center, and from 2018-2020 he served as Artist in Residence with Seattle Symphony and Creative Consultant for the interactive concert hall, Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center.
Seth Parker Woods is a Pirastro Artist and endorses Pirastro Perpetual Strings worldwide.