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Seth Parker Woods


About this Artist

Hailed by The Guardian as “a cellist of power and grace” who possesses “mature artistry and willingness to go to the brink,” GRAMMY Award-nominated 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, inspiring The New York Times to write, “Woods is an artist rooted in classical music, but whose cello is a vehicle that takes him, and his concertgoers, on wide-ranging journeys.” He is an honoree of the 2023 Seattle Symphony’s 25th Anniversary Silver Gala and recipient of the 2022 Chamber Music America Michael Jaffee Visionary Award. 

Among the highlights of his 2023-2024 season, Woods brings his GRAMMY-nominated, autobiographical tour-de-force Difficult Grace – described as “dazzlingly inventive” (Gramophone Magazine) and “a feast for the ears, eyes and mind” (The New York Times) – to San Diego and Philadelphia. The Philadelphia performance is supported by a major grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage alongside artist Barbara Earl Thomas, who will receive a special Philadelphia exhibition of Barbara Earl Thomas: The Illuminated Body, including a new collaborative work with Woods.

In addition, Woods performs the Boston premiere of Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s UBIQUE at Harvard University and goes on to a pair of performances with GRAMMY Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn at Konzerthaus Dortmund in Germany. With American Modern Opera Company (AMOC), Woods tours a new version of John Adams’ El Niño: Nativity Reconsidered with libretto by Peter Sellars and concept by AMOC member Julia Bullock to Stanford Live and Yale University before returning to The Cathedral of St. John the Divine for a second year. Woods appears in two performances of Fallen Petals, a program commissioned by Chamber Music Detroit and inspired by stories of juvenile offenders serving life in prison – starting with a performance at Oberlin Conservatory, followed by a second date in Cincinnati. He makes additional appearances at Chamber Music Detroit with pianist Conor Hanick, violist Kristen Docter, and the Aizuri Quartet. Other engagements this season bring him to the Chicago Humanities Festival, Illumina Festival in Brazil, the Spoleto Festival in Charleston and on tour with USC to Montreal. Woods also serves as a panelist for the 2024 Sphinx Competition in Detroit.

Woods’ 2022-2023 season brought breakout performances Difficult Grace with choreographer Roderick George, premiering at 92NY followed by performances at UCLA and Chicago’s Harris Theater. Difficult Grace was released as an album on Cedille Records in 2023. Woods also curated and performed a program honoring the centennial of composer George Walker at The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.; premiered Freida Abtan’s My Heart is a River, commissioned by the Seattle Symphony; and performed in a world premiere by Anna Thorvaldsdottir at Carnegie Hall as part of Claire Chase’s Density Series. The Great Northern Festival in Minneapolis presented Woods in his critically acclaimed performance installation, Iced Bodies, in which Woods, in a wetsuit, plays an obsidian ice cello. He also performed on the soundtrack of the PBS documentary The U.S. and the Holocaust – a film by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein.

In addition to solo performances, Woods 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 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. Woods is also a member of celebrated new music ensemble Wild Up, with whom he was nominated for a 2023 Grammy Award.

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, Dumbarton Oaks (Washington D.C.), the Isabella Gardner Museum (Boston) The Wallis Annenberg Center (Beverly Hills), Das Haus (Brussels), 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 is on 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.