Duncan Ward

Duncan Ward

British conductor Duncan Ward is emerging as one of the most exciting talents of his generation. From 2012-14 he was Conducting Scholar of the Berliner Philharmoniker Orchester-Akademie, to which he was appointed on the recommendation of Sir Simon Rattle. In 2015 he became Principal Conductor of Sinfonia Viva – one of the UK’s most dynamic and versatile ensembles, as well as holding the post of Associate Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

Plans for the 2017/18 season include debuts with Dresden Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de Belgique, Trondheim Symphony and Netherlands Opera for a double bill of Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti  and Macmillan’s Clemency as well as return visits to Vienna Radio Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, Bamberger Symphoniker, RTE Dublin, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Residentie Orkest, Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana and Glyndebourne on Tour to conduct Brett Dean’s Hamlet.

Recent highlights include debuts with Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Swedish Radio Symphony, MDR Leipzig, Ensemble Modern, Copenhagen Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Stavanger Symphony, Basel Sinfonietta, Aalborg Symphony, at the Aix-en-Provence Festival with the Orchestre de Paris and assisting Sir Simon Rattle in Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre with London Symphony Orchestra and Berliner Philharmoniker.

He conducted members of the Berliner Philharmoniker in their Britten100 concert and the International Contemporary Ensemble (New York) in the Acht Brucken Festival, Cologne. He has conducted special arrangements for family audiences of The Barber of Seville at the Salzburger Festspiele and Manon Lescaut at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival. Other debuts of note include with Bamberger Symphoniker and Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Ludwigsburg Schlossfestspiele with Igor Levit, Southbank Sinfonia, Ulster Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales as well as the Chinese premiere of Peter Grimes in Beijing with a stellar international cast. In Summer 2012, he conducted at the Royal Opera House as part of the London 2012 Olympics Festival with members of Streetwise Opera and in 2013 was Music Director of their critically acclaimed The Answer to Everything.

Opportunities during his two years at the Berliner Philharmoniker included assisting and rehearsal conducting for Die Zauberflöte, Gurre-Lieder, Die Walküre, the Glagolitic Mass, Britten’s War Requiem, G.F.Haas In vain and premieres by Wolfgang Rihm and Benedict Mason. He additionally conducted a special concert with the Berlin Philharmonic Strings to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, as well as a Webern concert with the principal players at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival and an all-Boulez programme with the Orchester-Akademie.

Following a month working in India in 2006, Duncan subsequently co-founded the WAM Foundation which sent young UK musicians each year to teach Western classical music in schools across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Kerala. The charity attracted the attention of the great late Ravi Shankar, who invited Duncan to study with him in California in 2010. Duncan is also closely involved with the South African charity MIAGI (Music Is A Great Investment). He will conduct their orchestra in tours of Africa and Europe in the 2017/18 season. 

Also an accomplished composer - winner of the 2005 BBC Young Composer of the Year – Duncan is now published by Peters Edition. Recent composing highlights include arrangements of Dvorak songs for performance in cities across Europe by Sir Simon Rattle and Magdalena Kožená, a critically acclaimed orchestral work for the LSO featured on their recent CD release of Panufnik Scheme Highlights, a work for his inaugural concert as Principal Conductor of Sinfonia Viva, and a theatrical version of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt performed by members of the National Youth Orchestra at the Southbank’s Imagine Festival in 2014. His works have also been performed by groups such as the Endymion Ensemble, BBC Singers and The Sixteen. He was appointed Composer for Coutts Bank's Family Business Awards in 2008.