BlueWater Chamber Orchestra

Immerse Yourself

Remembering Carlton R. Woods
Founder and Artistic Director

Carl Woods was an artist with vision. He came to Cleveland only 10 years ago and quickly saw the possibility of a new chamber orchestra. At a time when no long-time Clevelander would have considered it possible, he created BlueWater by the sheer force of his enthusiasm for the idea. Carl discovered an incredible community of professional musicians who wanted added opportunities to perform; he gave them the gift of an ensemble that grew organically from their combined talent. He was their maestro, yet he respected each as his equal. This approach set the group apart from the beginning.

Carl’s entire professional life was filled with music. He attended Heidelberg University (Tiffin, OH) and Washington University (St. Louis, MO) and earned his DMA from the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He enjoyed a distinguished career as a conductor at colleges and communities throughout the United States. He served on the faculties of Bethany College, Lindsbourg, KS; Allegheny College, Meadville, PA; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR and Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI. He was the Conductor and Director of the Midland (MI) Symphony Orchestra, and founded several successful summer chamber music festivals in Pennsylvania and Arkansas.
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As a guest conductor Carl performed with orchestras throughout the United States, Poland, Russia, Belgium, United Kingdom, Canada and Bolivia. He worked with renowned soloists including Itzhak Perlman, Edgar Meyer, Sarah Chang, John O'Conor, Mark O’Connor, Ani Kavafian, Anne Akiko Meyers, Sharon Isbin, Dave Brubeck, James McCracken, Eugenia Zuckerman and the Juilliard String Quartet.

From the first BlueWater concert in 2010 at The Breen Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Saint Ignatius High School, BlueWater has consistently received high critical acclaim. The excellent reviews quickly brought attention from classical music lovers intrigued by a new offering. Carl’s innovative spirit informed his heartfelt commitment to music education as well. He inaugurated a program designed to integrate the arts and academics at St. Ignatius, where professional BlueWater musicians entered the classrooms to share their passions and expertise. Along the way he spearheaded an arrangement that makes BlueWater Chamber Orchestra the first professional orchestra in residence at an American high school.

Carl’s legacy lives on. Always a pragmatist, he assembled a board to create an organization designed to outlive him. His mission continues; the 2017-18 season will be presented as he programmed it. Other projects he cared deeply about will also go forward. The Board of Directors send their love and condolences to Carl’s wife LaDonna and the entire family. A memorial service was held March 5th at Avon Lake United Church of Christ, Avon Lake, OH.

Donations in his memory may be made here:

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