The Mark Wood Experience
Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at FSW
2020-2021 Season Sponsor: Gunterberg Charitable Foundation – Culliton Family
Dr. Andrew M. Kurtz
Carry on Wayward Son
Carol of the Bells
Live and Let Die
Stairway to Heaven
Wizards in Winter
Anyway You Want It
In an industry where originality is a highly prized commodity, recording artist, performer, producer, inventor, Emmy-winning composer, and music education advocate Mark Wood is truly an original. He began his career with a full scholarship to the prestigious Juilliard School in New York and had the privilege of studying under Maestro Leonard Bernstein at the Tanglewood Music Program.
Dubbed The Les Paul of the Violin World by PBS, the Juilliard-trained violinist (he attended on full scholarship) first turned the string establishment on its head in the early 1970’s with his invention of the first solid body electric violin. His company Wood Violins is the premier manufacturer of electric violins, violas and cellos worldwide and he holds the patent for the first-ever self-supporting violin. The company stands behind its claim to have made the most important change to the violin in 400 years and is often referred to as the Stradivarius of electric violins.With a design as stunning as their sound, Wood Violins pack both sonic and visual punch. Their premier electric violin, The Viper, has found favor with musicians as varied as Lady Gaga’s violinist Judy Kang, Carrie Underwood’s violinist Jimmy Herman, and Big and Rich’s violinist Shawn Bailey.
Wood is a world-renowned performer who rose to fame as string master and original member of the internationally acclaimed Trans Siberian Orchestra. A successful solo artist in his own right, Wood writes and records original music for film and television, has released seven solo albums, and tours with his band The Mark Wood Experience (MWE) which features his wife and partner, vocalist Laura Kaye. His commission credits include The Juilliard School and extensive TV broadcast music including The Winter Olympics and The Tour de France (for which he won an Emmy).
In addition to his continued solo and commission work, Wood has collaborated with and appeared alongside some of the biggest names in music such as Lenny Kravitz, Celine Dion, and Kanye West. As a member of his touring band, Wood had the honor of performing with the legendary Billy Joel for both historic final concerts at Shea stadium, sharing the stage with Paul McCartney, Steven Tyler, and Roger Daltry. He also starred in a Kanye West produced national Pepsi TV commercial and has appeared on the world’s most venerable stages including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Madison Square Garden.
But his true passion is music education. His program Electrify Your Strings (EYS), now in its 20th year, is an intensive rock and roll workshop for school music education departments that boosts student self-esteem and motivation and helps raise money for music education. Today EYS visits upwards of 75 schools per year and there is a waiting list of schools wanting to participate. The organization has been featured on The Today Show and CBS Evening News and in countless local media outlets.
With hundreds of thousands of students reached, millions of dollars raised to help high school music departments across the US, and countless school orchestra programs saved from the chopping block because of funds raised through his efforts, Mark Wood has proven himself a man of ideas, action and results. Showing no signs of slowing down, the multi faceted visionary continues to write, perform, record, invent and inspire. As a matter of fact, Mark Wood is just getting started.
Andrew M. Kurtz
Music & Executive Director
Gulf Coast Symphony founder Dr. Andrew M. Kurtz enters his twenty-sixth season as the Symphony’s Music & Executive Director, and conductor. His deep rooted commitment to new work, community and education, combined with a vibrant artistic vision has led to creating and nurturing one of the most dynamic arts organizations in the region. His conducting has been called “passionate, expansive, expert, and musical.” He was named the 2007 Performing Artist of the Year at Lee County’s Angel of the Arts Awards. Kurtz’s repertoire encompasses a wide range of music styles from baroque to contemporary, and multiple genres including symphonic, opera, ballet, musical theater, jazz, cantorial, and symphonic pops.
An avid arts educator, Maestro Kurtz was Resident Music Director at the Luzerne Music Center. Kurtz is a past-president of the board of the Lee County Alliance for the Arts. In 2001, he won First Prize in the Dell’Arte di Firenze International Conducting Competition, and made his European conducting debut in Florence. In 1995, Kurtz made his international operatic debut in Tel Aviv while working as a staff conductor at the Israel Vocal Arts Institute. In 1997, he conducted the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s educational tour production of The Best of Puccini. He was a scholarship conducting student at the prestigious Aspen Music Festival, and boasts numerous other conducting credits, including the Pennsylvania Opera Theater, the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Charlotte Symphony, Gonzaga Symphony, and the Ocean City Pops.
Kurtz completed his doctoral studies in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia where he received his master’s degree in music history and a bachelor of arts in music and drama. A native of Philadelphia, Kurtz has called Southwest Florida home for more than 28 years, where he currently resides with his wife, Julie, and their son, Benjamin.
Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra Members
~ Denotes Gulf Coast Symphony Chamber Orchestra Member