Conductor Michael Woods


Review "Jaz" Coleman's Symphonic Led Zeppelin, Melbourne

I had to be convinced to attend this concert ..... there seem to be so many symphonic rock "orchestrated" programs these days - usually with a "covers" rock band out front - backed up by a group of strings and a few brass. This concert was not what I expected - no guitars or amplification - but really creative, beautiful writing for a full 60-piece symphony orchestra.... definitely worth going to.

I hadn't actually heard of "Jaz" Coleman - but having now looked into his background, it's not surprising that this music and this writing - in some ways, actually enhances the original iconic Led Zeppelin compositions. The program included Kashmir, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California and other favourites.The players were obviously engaged - strongly directed by the Australian conductor, Michael Woods, who I note has previously performed much of this work in Europe.

I have now decided to go in search of more of "Jaz" Coleman's work. From the program notes, I see that he has received commissions, not only from the London Philharmonic, but also from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. JT.  


Media and Recordings of Michael Woods on ABC Classic FM Radio

Michael Woods has been interviewed many times for ABC radio, as well as for other commercial and community stations. He was a guest on the Conversation Hour with John Faine on 774 ABC and the subject of a one-hour Tropic Island Discs program with Doug Beecroft on the Melbourne classical-music radio station, 3MBS. He was interviewed by Robyn Usher for 3MBS online and chatted about Symphonic Pink Floyd with Raphael Epstein. He has also given regular Radio and Television interviews in Croatia, Romania and the U.K.

BBC/Amazon 2012 Review of Schumann Symphony Cycle:

**** For a real sleeper, I recommend readers set out on a journey to find these symphonies under the leadership of Michael Woods and the Philharmonia Orchestra. It was released on IMP Classics, has extraordinary sound, and has all the drive and imagination missing from many others.



Review The Chamber Orchestra at St Paul's, Melbourne Recital Centre

 "The Chamber Orchestra at St Paul's performed Beethoven's Christmas! at Melbourne Recital Centre on Friday evening ........ the programming of some rarely-played works alongside the established fourth symphony was excellent - the execution even better..... Woods extracted a great sound from a seemingly eclectic but actually very competent orchestra with thoughtful and moving interpretations. The American violinist, Curt Thompson, especially captivated the audience with every possible nuance and subtlety of sound in his playing of the Romances in F and G - just perfect for the Salon. This concert was a surprise to me - it highlighted again the amazing depth of musical talent that exists in this country ...... Bravo to everybody! ...... will be repeated at MRC on December 19 and 20." CO


Review Melbourne Ballet Orchestra, Symphonic Pink Floyd, Elisabeth Murdoch Hall.

... unexpectedly, this was a wonderful work, extremely engaging and capturing an aspect of the music that took it well beyond the original. The playing of this occasional ensemble under the direction of Michael Woods was impeccable. The nuance of the shaping of the melodic and accompanying phrases was beautiful. The ensemble glissando phrasing was very well executed and created a magical interpretation of the original. A fantastic performance. RU

Review Radio/Online 3MBS Interview - Michael Woods with Robin Usher

 3MBS Digital online
Beethoven’s Christmas
By: Robin Usher
12th December
Beethoven did not experience much joy in a life marred by ill health. While his ever-worsening deafness is well-known, he also suffered with bowel problems, which is assumed today to be Crohn’s Disease. But he did know some happy occasions during what is known as his middle or heroic period in the early 19th century when he was working on his third, fourth and fifth symphonies.
It is the lesser-known fourth symphony that conductor Michael Woods has made the main work in a series of concerts at the Melbourne Recital Centre celebrating Beethoven at Christmas.
‘’Beethoven was with friends at a sponsor’s home for Christmas 1806 when the first rehearsals of the fourth symphony took place,’’ he says. ‘’This was when he is thought to have been in love with Josephine Brunsvik and everything was in place for him to be happy. ‘’
He says Beethoven always seemed to have fallen in love with women from the nobility, which made things difficult because he was a commoner.
Woods will leave the pit to discuss Beethoven’s life between performances of rarely performed works leading up to the symphony, including the first and second Romances which are also connected to Christmas. He will conduct the Chamber Orchestra at St Paul’s accompanied by the Melbourne Conservatorium’s head of strings, Curt Thompson.
‘’The pieces were all played or premiered around Christmas and make an ideal musical program for the season when people are looking for entertainment.’’
He says the fourth symphony is becoming better appreciated away from the revolutionary third and fifth symphonies. ‘’It is a beautiful light work that harks back to the first two symphonies even though Beethoven was working on it at the same time as the bigger works.’’
Woods has carved out a niche presenting programs that have wide appeal which also provide work for musicians. ‘’I have worked in cities all over the world and these players could find work in all of them,’’ he says.
‘’Fate and hard work will take people in different directions from what they might have imagined as fresh graduates out of music school. But there is no doubting their abilities – not everyone can be in the MSO at either end of the careers.’’
"It is the lesser-known fourth symphony that conductor Michael Woods has made the main work in a series of concerts at the Melbourne Recital Centre celebrating Beethoven at Christmas"
Woods has taken part in 17 concerts at the Melbourne Recital Centre over the past four years and he says their success demonstrates the appeal of attractive programming and great players.
His European experience had shown him that concerts with the right elements of education, entertainment and excitement will find a Christmas audience. ‘’I tell stories during the performance and that seems to appeal to a wide range of people.’’
He has a diverse career, which includes both music and dentistry – he has held academic dental positions and his wife is an orthodontist. But his recent career has focused on what he calls ‘’music for the people’’ often associated with Andre Rieu.
He studied trombone at the Victorian College of the Arts and was a principal player with several orchestras, including the Australian Youth Orchestra, the Victoria State Opera and winning a place as principal with the Melbourne Symphony.
He travelled to the US in the late ‘80s and began conducting cabaret concerts but returned to Australia in 1990. He says he had a musical re-birth eight years ago and studied with international British conductor John Hopkins at Melbourne University. He had first known Hopkins when Woods was a student at the VCA.
He attended New York’s Juilliard School in 2008 and went on to work with various orchestras in Eastern Europe. His European recordings include Schumann’s four symphonies with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra – a result he modestly describes as being in the right place at the right time.
His all-inclusive approach to music means he works regularly in London and Germany, as well as what he describes as away from the centre of it all in Croatia and Romania where he returned for the fourth time last month to perform Symphonic Pink Floyd concerts which he also presented in Melbourne in October.
He first performed it in Berlin on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and it went so well he is puzzled that state orchestras in Australia have not included it in their programs. The arrangement by Jeremy Coleman was a commission by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and is popular all over Europe.
‘’It appeals to a wide age group, including people in their twenties,’’ he says. ‘’It proves that if music is popular in one genre it will work just as well in another.’’
Woods experience in Eastern Europe has shown him the wide appeal of a diverse approach to music. He relies on English and ‘’working German’’ but he says music is the international language. ‘’There are so many ways to communicate.’’
He will return to Europe early next year to work on choral concerts in London before travelling to Dubrovnik in Croatia. ‘’There will be quite a variety of work before I return to Melbourne for concerts in St Paul’s supporting the choir,’’ he says.
Beethoven’s Christmas conducted by Michael Woods with the Chamber Orchestra of St Paul’s is at the Melbourne Recital Centre at 7pm on December 12, 19 and 20.



Review Maria Stuarda by Donizetti.

Millennium Opera (Vic). Musical Director: Michael Woods.

Phoenix Theatre. 

This was the first production from Dr Joseph Talia’s new company, which obviously includes many former members of Melbourne City Opera. The overture and general orchestral playing was spirited and very well directed and the overall vocal sound was impressive. Hearing operatic voices in such an intimate space as the Phoenix Theatre was an experience not to be missed. The three main protagonists (Maria, Elisabeta and Leicester) all sang confidently.
Emily Szabo, in the title role, has a lovely voice and commanding presence, and coped with the coloratura with ease. Kathryn Grey was also excellent as the imperious Queen Elizabeth. Nick Seidenman used his ringing tenor to good effect as Leicester. Of those in the supporting roles, Ian Lowe stood out as Talbot. When the small chorus sang together, surprisingly they made a thrilling sound. Opera is all about singing and the music - and that was all very good!

Graham Ford

DESTEPTAREA - editia digitala Written by Liviu Maftei 

"Symphonic Pink Floyd"- a great musical success with a full house (translated by Google)

Sunday evening at the Atheneum saw a great Symphonic Pink Floyd concert performed by Filarmonica “Mihail Jora” Bacau. All seats were sold out by Saturday and many spectators chose standing room rather than missing out on such a musical event. The symphony orchestra was masterfully led by the Australian conductor, Michael Woods, who managed to unite classical fans with rockers to hear the sounds of the famous Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Syd Barrett, Richard Wright and Nick Mason presented in a symphonic manner.

Hits such as Time, Brain Damage, Another Brick in the Wall, Money, Comfortably Numb, and Us and Them created a great vibe and atmosphere for the audience and performers throughout the concert. The extended applause at the end of the work led to an encore – unusual with the presentation of such a work.

The choir of the National College of Art “George Apostu” directed by Prof. George Gozar, and sopranos, Irina Mosu Velciu, Alexandra Stefanescu and Isabella Farcus all contributed to the success of the evening.

Liviu Maftei

Zagreb Philharmonic: Music for the People

Vox Glas Zadra: The Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra – Enticement for the Audience

Vox Glas Zadra reported at length on the successful guest-performing of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra in Zadar at a concert "From Bach to Lennon", under conductor Michael Woods. In the introduction, the author Silvija Romić stated: "A concert by the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra has always been an enticement for audiences, which was definitely the case with their guest-performing at the Croatian National Theatre in Zadar on Friday. The Zadar audience came to the concert of this renowned Croatian ensemble in large numbers".

By Silvija Romic

Concerts by the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra have always been a magnet for the public, and such was the case during its performances in the Croatian National Theaters in Zagreb and Zadar. Citizens came in large numbers to watch this renowned Croatian ensemble, this time conducted by guest-conductor, Michael Woods.

The concert was titled “From Bach to Lennon”, and it was clear that the repertoire was not going to be limited only to classical music, but that it would include modern music arranged for the orchestra as well. Woods is a director who is gaining his reputation by conducting concerts of generally non-typical classical music. Therefore, it is not surprising that the concert in Zadar contained a selection of the most famous film music as well as some classical pieces. 

The excellent overture of the concert was from “Superman” by John Williams, the composer that was largely represented in the musical repertoire. From a large Wiliams’ opus of film music, audience members had the opportunity to hear two segments from the movies “Star Wars” – “Battle of the Heroes from Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith” and “Across the Stars: Love theme of Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones”, as well as the well known melody ”March from Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

All in all, it was an evening of “musical specialties”, especially for the lovers of film music. There was also some music from “Rocky” – “Going the Distance” by Bill Conti. Apart from film music, the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra under Woods, did an orchestral rendition of “Ticket to Ride” by the Beatles. Unusual was the Variations of “Hey Jude”. 

To satisfy the classical music lovers, there were a few pieces by Handel, such as ”Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” from “Solomon”, Mozart’s “Allegro Molto” from the symphony no. 40 in g-mol K550, Grieg's “Morning” from the Peer Gynt Suite. Bach was not forgotten either, nor was a famous closing melody from “William Tell” by  Rossini.

The concert concluded with orchestral version of the traditional Australian song “Waltzing Matilda”. However, that wasn’t the end of the evening, because there were two encores with the Traditional Jazz music: "South Rampart Street Parade“. The audience members gave great applause and several ovations for the orchestra and Michael Woods. After these excellent concerts, we need to conclude that it would be a real refreshment to have more evenings devoted to this film and pops music.

Bucharest Sinfonia - Sala "George Enescu" - Mozart Festival   Google translation of Romanian original

Michael Woods - a conductor of great success - for the second time in Romania

Aristotle Bunescu  News 

Australian conductor Michael Woods made his second visit to Romania at the invitation of maestro Florin Totan, Musical Director of Bucharest Sinfonia Orchestra and Chef Conductor of the Filarmonica Valcea.
Michael Woods conducted on Sunday evening at the Universitatea Nationala de Muzica Bucaresti, Sala “George Enescu”, a Mozart Festival, which took the program Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, Concerto No.3 in G major for violin and orchestra with soloist Petro Cotarcea and Symphony No.33 in B flat major. The concert was supported by the State Center for the Preservation and Promotion of National Culture, Ilfov.

Michael Woods has again proven evidence of talent and experience as in numerous appearances in Australia or other countries. Of special note Symphony 33 was control and fine ensemble in work not much known in Romania. He said he returned with great pleasure, in Romania, where there are great musicians and audiences who value taste, both classical repertoire, and also modern.


Muzica celor mai bune filme - Great music from films

Google link: Muzica celor mai bune filme - Valcea 1 - Televiziunea de Valcea

VALCEA FILARMONICA - OCHIUL TIGRULUI! - EYE OF THE TIGER! (Google translation of original)

The concert presented in the Anton Pann Theatre last night by our city's "Ion Dimitrescu" Valcea Filharmonica was a delight for the audience. With a select repertoire including some of the most popular music from films, Australian conductor, Michael Woods, was able to work brilliantly with the Valcea orchestra. It is the conductor's third visit to Romania. The most popular works in this concert were those arranged by the American, Irvin Wagner, from the Rocky movie series, Survivor's Eye of the Tiger! and others that are well-known to all film lovers. This second collaboration of the Australian conductor with the Valcea players has again been very good. At the end of the concert, those present had words of great praise, both for conductor, Michael Woods, and our Valcea Filarmonica.   

BEAT MAGAZINE - Interview Meg Crawford with Michael Woods

Us And Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd, Melbourne Recital Centre

Berliners couldn’t have given a flying proverbial though: 350,000 people bought tickets and at the last minute the gates were opened up so that another 100,000 people could watch. Even though it wasn’t even close to the band playing, Pink Floyd took on epic proportions in Berlin’s collective conscience.

Fast forward and Aussie conductor Michael Woods is in Berlin conducting Us and Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd for his first time and the response is feverish – his concert’s coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the epic ’89 gig. “I didn’t really understand the significance of it when I was first engaged to do it,” Woods laughs. “I did Symphonic Pink Floyd for the first time with the local State Orchestra in the Berlin Concert House – I was immediately aware of it being a different time. All of their bookshops were full of both English and German language Pink Floyd things and Pink Floyd was really an iconic band of the time for them, so something like Symphonic Pink Floyd was immediately attractive.” Indeed – sell out shows followed.

Us and Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd was the brainchild of Jaz Coleman, from English post-punk outfit Killing Joke. Coleman had some interesting views about how music evolves and becomes accepted in the mainstream. “A couple of the members were drinking in a pub on a Sunday afternoon in Hampstead and arguing about what makes a classic,” explains Woods. “The conclusion was that even if you took something which was progressive at the time, it could up becoming a classic and that something that was a classic, or very popular in one genre, may well become a classic and accepted in another. Coleman was challenged to see if he could start orchestrating some of this Pink Floyd stuff and he started with Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. The aim was to making something that could not only be accepted and covered by a big symphony orchestra, but would be regarded as a classic piece.”

The London Philharmonic caught wind of and commissioned the project and Us and Them was the result. The score combines songs from Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, which as any dedicated Floydian will know, are symphonic sprees in the first place. The London Philharmonic performed and recorded it subsequently and it went straight to the top of the Billboard cross-over charts and became part of the repertoire of many European orchestras, thereby proving Coleman right.

Us and Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd is certainly not the first cross-over work, the Stones, Nirvana and Queen have also received the treatment, but it’s probably one of the best loved and most famous. It’s not just a matter of giving some Pink Floyd songs some orchestral backing or having an orchestra doing a Pink Floyd concert, replacing a tune line with the instrument that can most closely replicate it. “This genre is quite different,” notes Woods. “The thematic and melodic material and the atmosphere and mood of each song has been taken and put in an orchestral setting. So, in this case there are ten movements and some of them are immediately obvious – their rhythm, melody and orchestration – it just couldn’t be any other piece, but there are others where the mood and the themes are brought in a little bit differently. All are recognisable once you get into them as being based upon the material from Pink Floyd, there’s nothing freaky or anything, but it’s more a fantasia [a composition in fanciful or irregular form or style].”

Woods was a teenager when Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall came out and although he was aware of the hits, he wasn’t a diehard fan: he was more impressed when he was given Atom Heart Mother. “That was a beautiful album,” he reflects. “I was attracted to its differences. Other albums of the period had really short songs and a lot of Pink Floyd’s stuff is going for 10, 12, 15 minutes and they were using a full range of orchestral sound and percussion.” No wonder it appealed to Woods, given the orchestral career that unfolded.

Woods’ orchestral conducting training was with hallowed UK conductor John Hopkins. He also happens to be a classically trained trombone player, so he’s played as well as conducted all over the world. Despite the Mozart and Beethoven background, he’s often played on the other side of the classical fence – the cross-over genre floats his boat. “As a trombone player I was very lucky to be in positions where I played large scale cross-overs or pops. I’m drawn to them because it’s really music for everybody. People of all agendas, age groups, backgrounds, education in terms of musical awareness and tastes can be given experiences, and although not everyone can be accommodated each time, we can put on programs which are attractive to a large number of people. It’s a pity that some people stay away because they’ve been led to believe that there’s a wall between the different genres – if you like that you wouldn’t like that – part of our process is breaking that down.”


The Chamber Orchestra at St Paul's, Melbourne Recital Centre

Heather Leviston |

Patrons would have been more than gratified by much of the evening’s music making. The 13 strings, two oboes, two horns and harpsichord of this smaller version of the Chamber Orchestra at St Paul's were well served by the warm, resonant acoustic of Melbourne Recital Centre, which gave further substance to the orchestral sound.

The orchestra gave a spirited account of Mozart’s early and very short Symphony No. 10. Following this, there was really attractive playing in Handel’s Concerto Grosso No.11 It was clear that many members of the audience were there to hear Lachlan Redd play the musical centrepiece of the concert: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 12. They would not have been disappointed; Redd’s playing provided some of the most satisfying moments of the evening. In the cadenzas and the lovely ‘Andante’ his playing was thoughtfully considered and expressively phrased. An assured and spirited final movement was marked by good forward momentum and nuanced dynamic and rhythmic control.

A lively reading of Handel’s Overture from Theodora opened the second half of the program. Although this might have been a curious choice at this point in the program, the rich timbre of the oboe in the second section and some nicely responsive phrasing from the orchestra justified its inclusion. Mozart’s popul MEG CRAWFORD  ar Symphony No. 29 was an appropriate way to end the evening. The orchestra rose to the occasion, providing some particularly graceful playing in the second movement and an effective dynamic range throughout. The final ‘Allegro con spirito’ lived up to its name. Programming designed to please did just that.  


Bucharest Sinfonia: Romanian Ateneum: Beethoven festival 

Maestro Michael Woods conducted the Sinfonia Bucharest Orchestra  at the legendary and historical hall "Ateneum of Bucharest".This hall is one of the most important halls in all of Eastern Europe and Mo. Woods conducted on the same podium where  in the past Celibidache, Giulini, Mehta, etc. had conducted.

This concert was one of the best of our orchestra in the last few years, because of this gifted and charismatic conductor. The players enjoyed working with him because he was competent, knew the score and showed authority in front of the orchestra. That's why my people played with all their heart for him. The audience also appreciated the concert very much, giving especially Maestro Woods several outstanding ovations

Not only me but also our orchestra said that Michael Woods was one of the best guest conductors that we've had in the last 10 years and they want him again in Bucharest for more concerts.

Music Director of "Sinfonia Bucharest" 

Str Rezonantei 2,Bl 12/29,sector 4Bucharest-Romania

TEl: 0040.21.4603364



 The Brilliance of Baroque! Another celebration from St Martin in the Fields
 A brilliant concert of baroque favourites

Director of more than 700 concerts at London’s famous Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, widely-acclaimed British Baroque specialist, Peter G Dyson, returns to Melbourne Recital Centre with The Chamber Orchestra at St Paul’s in a wonderful baroque concert, including favourite works by Handel, J.S. Bach, Purcell and Telemann.

The orchestra will be joined by British soloists, Rebekah Gilbert (mezzo-soprano) and Richard Fomison (trumpet), alongside local internationals, Jennen Ngiau-Keng (violin) and Lachlan Redd (keyboard).