Biography

Sought after as both conductor and composer for an increasingly exciting range of projects around the globe, recent and upcoming highlights include with the Bayerische Rundfunk, Swedish Radio, Bamberg, Trondheim and Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestras, Orchestre de Paris, BBC, Dresden and New Japan Philharmonics, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Glyndebourne Opera, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), New York. 

 

From 2012-14 Duncan was Conducting Scholar of the Berliner Philharmoniker Orchester-Akademie, to which he was appointed on the recommendation of Sir Simon Rattle. And from 2015 – 2017, he was Principal Conductor of Sinfonia Viva – one of the UK’s most dynamic and versatile ensembles. He also held the post of Associate Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

Operatic engagements include Don Pasquale, Hamlet and Cendrillon for Glyndebourne-on-Tour, La Traviata at Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, the Chinese premiere of Peter Grimes with a stellar international cast and London Voices, Saariaho’s La Passion de Simone at Deutsche Oper in a new production by Peter Sellars, Clemency and Trouble in Tahiti for Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam, a Barber of Seville for young audiences at the Salzburg Festival, a chamber version of Manon Lescaut with the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival, and opera galas with singers from Venera Gimadieva to Rolando Villazon.

Praised equally for his ‘viscerally exciting’ performances of Beethoven and Haydn symphonies as his committed and sensitive interpretations of demanding new works, Duncan is passionate about a hugely wide-ranging repertoire. He is as at home working with period instrument ensembles such as Balthasar Neumann, elite chamber orchestras such as Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and the major symphony orchestras of the BBC, as directing the world’s foremost contemporary music ensembles like Ensemble Modern. This is not to mention his acclaimed work with the homeless performers of Streetwise Opera, directing 500 amateur musicians in a supersize Riley 'In C' at the Elbphilharmonie, Indian classical collaborations with Anoushka Shankar, and with celebrated Nordic folk band Dreamers' Circus.

Also an accomplished composer, Duncan was BBC Young Composer of the Year in 2005 and subsequently signed by Peters Edition. Recent works have been performed, recorded and broadcast by ensembles such as the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Endymion Ensemble, The Sixteen, the Navarra Quartet, BBC Singers, and Streetwise Opera. 

His recent chamber arrangement of a selection of Dvořák songs for Magdalena Kožená received critical acclaim across Europe. Current commissions include an encore for the Bamberger Symphoniker to be premiered conducted by Rafael Payare in March 2019. His latest project, a 30-minute orchestral work 'Rainbow Beats' for the South African organisation MIAGI (Music Is A Great Investment) will embark on a major tour of Europe in Summer 2018 in celebration of Nelson Mandela's centenary including performances at the Elbphilharmonie, Concertgebouw, Berlin Konzerthaus and Verbier Festival.

Formerly Sir Charles Mackerras Junior Conducting Fellow for Trinity Laban, Duncan first mounted the podium aged thirteen for a school production of his own musical. As a member of the National Youth Orchestra and Junior Trinity he studied conducting with Andrew Morley, and as a student regularly conducted the University of Manchester Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, under the guidance of Mark Heron. In masterclass he worked with the London Symphony Orchestra under the instruction of Valery Gergiev, the Staatskapelle Berlin with Daniel Barenboim, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich with David Zinman, and the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra with Pierre Boulez.

Highlights during his two years at the Berliner Philharmoniker included assisting and rehearsal conducting for Die Zauberflöte, Gurre-Lieder, Die Walküre, Britten’s War Requiem, G.F.Haas ‘in vain’ and premieres by Wolfgang Rihm and Benedict Mason. He additionally conducted the Britten 100th Birthday concert with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker and Ian Bostridge, a Webern concert and production of ‘Kleine’ Manon Lescaut with the Principal Players of the orchestra at their Baden-Baden Easter Festival, and a special concert 'Violins of Hope' with the Berlin Philharmonic Strings to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

NB Text for website purpose only. For current biography and press materials please download the publicity pack at https://www.askonasholt.co.uk/artists/duncan-ward/