Duncan Ward

Composer signed with Peters Edition

credit: Alan Kerr


British conductor Duncan Ward has established himself as one of the most exciting and versatile conductors of his generation and enjoys working regularly with some of the leading ensembles and opera houses. Recent highlights have included engagements with the Orchestre de Paris, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, London Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bamberger Symphoniker, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and a return to Glyndebourne on Tour conducting Brett Dean’s acclaimed ‘Hamlet’.

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. 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.

Plans for the 2018/19 season include debuts with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Münchner Rundfunkorchester and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He will also return to the Orchestre de Paris to make his subscription debut, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien at the Musikverein and conduct a new production of Cendrillon for Glyndebourne on Tour.


Performance Schedule

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    19:30 10 May 2019 Wiener Konzerthaus, VIENNA

    DIETER KAUFMANN Tolleranza
    ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35
    RODION SHCHEDRIN Suite from Carmen for strings and percussion

    Violin: Benjamin Schmid
    Orchestra: Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra

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    20:00 24 May 2019 Herz Jesu Kirche München, MUNICH

    TORU TAKEMITSU From me flows what you call time
    BACH ARR. ELGAR Fantasy and Fugue in C minor BWV 537
    BACH ARR. WEBERN Ricercare

    Percussion: Simone Rubino
    Orchestra: Munchner Rundfunkorchester

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    19:30 29 May 2019 Radio Kulturhaus Wien, VIENNA

    FRANZ SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 ‘Unfinished’
    GERD KÜHR Movimenti for Violin and Orchestra
    Boris LYATOSHYNSKY Symphony No. 3

    Violin: Andrii Pavlov
    Orchestra: Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra

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    19:00 14 Jun 2019 Sala Radio Bucharest, BUCHAREST

    ROBERT SCHUMANN Cello Concerto in A minor Op. 129
    ANTON BRUCKNER Symphony No.6

    Cello: Andrei Ioniță
    Orchestra: National Radio Orchestra Romania

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    19:30 29 Jun 2019 Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, LIVERPOOL

    CLAUDE DEBUSSY Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
    FELIX MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op.64
    JEAN SIBELIUS Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43

    Violin: Alena Baeva
    Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

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    20:00 13 Jul 2019 Manufacture des Gobelins, PARIS

    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART La Clemenza di Tito Overture
    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART ‘Parto parto’ from La clemenza di Tito, K.621
    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Deh perquesto istante solo from La clemenza di Tito
    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Cosi fan tutte K. 588 Overture
    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART ‘E amore un ladroncello’ from Cosi Fan Tutte, K. 588
    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Voi che Sapete from Le nozze di Figaro
    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Don Giovanni Overture
    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Mi tradi quell’alma ingrata from Don Giovanni
    FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN Symphony No.102 in B flat

    Mezzo-Soprano: Antoinette Dennefeld
    Orchestra: Orchestre de Chambre de Paris

From The Green Room

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    09 Feb 19 Schumann, Mendelssohn and Dvorak Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & Yury Revich
    Leeds Town Hall

    “Rising young British conductor Duncan Ward might still be in his mid-twenties, but the strength of his chemistry with the RPO already seems indicative of a long and fruitful relationship.”

    Claire Lomax, 12 Feb 19, Ilkley Gazette

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    09 Nov 18 Wagner, Schnebel & Stiebler Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
    hr-Sendesaal, Frankfurt

    “Self-contained and atmospheric, Wagner’s Parsifal opens the concert. Here, the young British conductor Duncan Ward (1988) proves his mastery of interpretation. The Lietmotif of the Grail and the Lord’s Supper are concisely elaborated. With such an attentive orchestra, perfectly tuned to him, Duncan achieved a congenial mood of consecration, of the miracle of faith, and of spiritual elevation.” [Trans.]

    H. Boscaiolo, 10 Nov 18

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    13 Oct 18 Massenet: Cendrillon Glyndebourne Opera

    ★★★★ ½

    “The atmosphere of the production is faithful to Perrault’s dark vision, and the musical direction, under the rising star Duncan Ward, is well nigh faultless, making Massenet’s romantic episodes swell with ardour and his capricious ones sparkle.”

    Melanie Eskenazi, MusicOMH, 15 October 2018


    “this rich score, its sumptuous textures and delicate solos relished by the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra and the conductor Duncan Ward”

    Rebecca Franks, The Times, 16 October 2018


    “What else but magic can explain how Massenet conjures a world of enchantment out of simply a solo flute and a halo of strings for Cendrillon’s first encounter with her Prince Charming? This is a score of elfin delicacy, which the conductor, Duncan Ward, appreciates”

    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 15 October 2018


    “In the pit, Duncan Ward conducts with admirable lightness of touch and respect for the instrumental niceties…”

    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 14 October 2018

    “Duncan Ward and a crack Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra gave a scintillating account of Massenet’s sugared-almond score, with a magnificently robust Glyndebourne Chorus to ice the cake”

    Mark Valencia, Bachtrack, 14 October 2018

    “Conductor Duncan Ward is wonderfully alert to Massenet’s sensuously glittering textures, and the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra play most beautifully for him.”

    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 15 October 2018

    “Massenet is sometimes, perhaps often, both inside and outside France, seen as a bit of a workaday composer…But his youthful character does not bespeak musical acquiescence or unoriginality, as Duncan Ward’s prising out of great swathes of magnificent, and fresh, compositional detail here at Glyndebourne showed.”

    Roderic Dunnett, Seen and Heard International, 16 October 2018

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    19 Jan 18 Schubert, Webern, & Farrenc
    Die Glocke, Bremen

    with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen & Benjamin Appl.

    “Der 28-jährige britische Dirigent Duncan Ward dirigiert Farrencs Sinfonie (und auch noch das Menuett der ersten als Zugabe) auswendig, ein mehr als bemerkenswerter Vorgang, wenn man bedenkt, dass nahezu alle „Außenseiter-Sinfonien“ aus den Partituren gespielt werden.
    Farrencs 1849 uraufgeführte Sinfonie bildet das bejubelte Finale des Konzertes: ihre geradezu wilden Kontraste, ihre immer vorwärtsdrängende Dramatik, ihre wirbelnden Bläserpartien, ihre musikantische Freude und Leichtigkeit, ihre Mendelssohn’sche Elfenhaftikeit formt Ward bestens. Seine Körpersprache entspricht souverän der Musik.
    Das gilt auch für die anderen Wiedergaben eines Konzertes, dessen Programm in höchstem Masse originell ist: Es beginnt mit der Wiedergabe der nur in Klavierskizzen vorhandenen 10. Sinfonie von Franz Schubert, deren Trostlosigkeit der Instrumentator Brian Newbould wunderbar akzentuiert und Ward mit unbeschreiblicher Zartheit umsetzt. Dann die Variationen für Orchester op. 30 von Anton Webern, mit denen Ward Weberns romantische Herkunft betont und dankenswerterweise das komplexe Stück zweimal spielen lässt.”

    Ute Schalz-Laurenze,, 21 January 2018

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    21 Oct 17 Brett Dean's 'Hamlet' Glyndebourne on Tour
    Various venues

    “The conductor Duncan Ward – also a composer, which can only help in tackling a score as complex and layered as this – drew first-class performances from the Glyndebourne Tour orchestra and chorus.”

    ***** Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 29 October 2017


    “Then there were the players, kings and queens to a man and woman, in most cases every bit as powerful in this autumn cast as their summer predecessors had been. And conductor Duncan Ward … corralled them all magnificently along with a tour orchestra that sounded as if it’s played this stuff for years.”

    **** Mark Valencia, What’s On Stage, 25 October 2017


    “Duncan Ward’s conducting has tremendous force. The playing and choral singing are exemplary.”

    **** Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 23 October 2017


    “In the pit, young Duncan Ward and his orchestra were rightly cheered. This Hamlet doesn’t just deserve your attention, it demands it.”

    ***** David Mellor, The Daily Mail, 4 November 2017

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    03 Sep 17 Young Euro Classic Festival
    Berlin Konzerthaus

    with the Cuban-European Youth Orchestra and Sophie Pacini.

    “Die in die Jahre gekommene Festivalhymne (bitte mal endlich eine neue in Auftrag geben!) klang noch recht schief, aber was dann kam, war Orchestermusik vom Feinsten, gefeilt, durchsichtig, jedes Detail gearbeitet, trotzdem nicht dressiert oder angstvoll, immer leicht und schwebend. Dies ist vorzüglich das Verdienst des jungen Dirigenten Duncan Ward … Ein insgesamt sehr gelungener Abschluss des Festivals und eine heiße Empfehlung an alle führenden Orchester der Stadt: Duncan Ward wird eine glänzende Karriere machen, hier heißt es zugreifen!”

    **** Clemens Goldberg, kulturradio, 4 September 2017

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    12 Jul 17 Aix-en-Provence Festival Orchestre de Paris
    Grand Theatre de Provence

    “Avec une direction d’une fermeté délicate, Duncan Ward donne le ton à cette soirée, laissant jouer l’orchestre et les instruments solistes pour cet amusement musical. Impulsions et dynamiques se succèdent dans des moments de grande légèreté. C’est dans cet esprit de légèreté, de clarté et d’élégance que l’Orchestre de Paris va suivre la baguette précise de Duncan Ward. Dans une économie de gestes, mais pas d’investissement, le chef d’orchestre fait ressortir le caractère de chaque famille d’instruments, sans excès, restant dans la recherche du style et des sonorités avec un jeu gai et charmant qui n’exclue pas les accords affirmés et les jolies oppositions de couleurs.”

    Jocelyne De Nicola, GB Opera, 17 July 2017


    “Un jeune chef dont Sir Simon Rattle n’hésite pas à dire le plus grand bien, le recommandant, même, pour diriger ces dernières années le Berliner Philharmoniker Orchester Akademie… Une découverte, donc, pour nombre de mélomanes en ce soir de concert festivalier. Et quelle découverte. Après avoir ciselé les petits joyaux qui composent les suites n°1 et n°2 pour petit orchestre, de Stravinski, après avoir livré une interprétation appliquée et efficace de la Symphonie n°3 qui ne compte pas parmi les compositions majeures de Schubert quoique intéressante par son « voyage » dans le temps en débutant avec Mozart et s’achevant avec Rossini, c’est avec la symphonie n°4 de Beethoven que le jeune prodige britannique a mis la salle à ses pieds.”

    “Bénéficiant d’un Orchestre de Paris affûté à tous les pupitres, Duncan Ward a livré une lecture étincelante et précise de cette partition. Avec une totale maîtrise, il a profité de la qualité des instrumentistes pour mettre en valeur les ambiances de chacun des mouvements de l’œuvre tour à tour puissante et délicate. Le tout de tête, comme pour la totalité du concert d’ailleurs. Un grand moment de direction musicale pour cette première de Duncan Ward au Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.”

    Michel Egea, Destimed, 13 July 2017 

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    09 Jun 17 RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
    National Concert Hall Dublin

    “…the performances, directed with great aplomb by young British guest conductor Duncan Ward…”

    “Ward is one of those conductors who seem permanently in contact with every last member of the orchestra. When the harmony or the tempo changes, it does so in absolute synchrony, nothing being left behind to blur an edge. When diverse instruments join forces in unison, each adds to, rather than takes away from, the tone-colour of the others. The effects are kaleidoscopic.”

    Andrew Johnstone, The Irish Times, 14 June 2017

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    09 Dec 16 Helen Grime, Ades Scottish Chamber Orchestra *Debut*
    City Hall, Glasgow

    “The sense of chill and the “slippery under foot” feel of her three-part winter piece, A Cold Spring, were gleamingly conjured by the SCO with the lucid direction of young conductor Duncan Ward in charge of the barometer. Ward also presided over a dazzling account of Thomas Ades’ Chamber Concerto which, along with its contrapuntal complexity, featured a delightful lurch towards a somewhat dysfunctional bluesy idiom: succulent stuff.”

    Michael Tumelty, The Herald Scotland, 11 December 2016

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    13 Nov 16 Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra *Debut*
    Musikverein Vienna

    “Der hochbegabte Brite Duncan Ward war kurzfristig für Emilio Pom´arico eingesprungen und konnte das Orchester mit klarer Zeichengebung zu immer wieder großer Emphase anstacheln – zuletzt auch im Finale aus Mahlers Zehnter (in Deryck Cookes Aufführungsversion der unvollendeten Symphonie).”

    Walter Weidringer, Die Presse, 15 November 2016

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    19 Feb 16 Arnold Bax, Beethoven RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
    National Concert Hall Dublin

    Arnold Bax : In Memoriam (1916) – “In Duncan Ward’s performance with the NSO, the lushly orchestrated work came across as earnest and heartfelt.”
    “The performance of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony that followed was a model of classical composure, small in scale and beautifully balanced, taut in energy and potent in expression, and thrilling from beginning to end.”

    Michael Dervan, The Irish Times, 24 February 2016


    Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony –  “Ward takes an overall brisk approach, but still never allowed any of the four movements to dominate – even the exultant finale. It is a work that provides endless diversity and while the strings were in flying form, so were brass and woodwind. The adagio was particularly dignified.”

    Dick O’Riordan, Sunday Business Post Magazine, February 2016

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    22 Jan 16 Haydn: Symphony No. 59 Sinfonia Viva
    Derby Cathedral

    “His infectious drive and enthusiasm brought a ready response from Viva’s players, beginning with a crisp, alert performance of Haydn’s Symphony No 59, known as the ‘Fire’ from its probable use as incidental music for a play of that name. The second movement’s minor‐key sections had just enough gravitas to balance the laid‐back, but not over‐indulgent, handling of the rest. The minuet was nicely springy, and the exuberant horn/oboe dialogue kick‐started a racy account of the finale.”
    Mike Wheeler, Music and Vision, January 2016

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    10 Oct 15 Donizetti: Don Pasquale Glyndebourne On Tour
    Glyndebourne On Tour

    “Significantly, the orchestral playing gains a wonderful lift and loving detail under Duncan Ward, making a striking Glyndebourne debut.”

    Edward Bhesania, The Stage, 12 October 2015


    “Duncan Ward won the BBC Young Composer award ten years ago and has since had a varied career as a conductor; if tonight’s showing was anything to go by, that career is about to become even busier. Ward definitely merits the description of ‘singers’ conductor’ in that he allows his cast time to shape their phrases, but he also possesses ideally firm control over the orchestra, who played marvellously for him.”

    Melanie Eskenazi, Music OMH, 10 Oct 2015


    “Duncan Ward led a bracing account of the score, the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra woodwinds delighting in its many felicities, plus a splendid trumpet solo at the start of Act II.”

    Mark Pullinger, Bachtrack, 11 October 2015


    “It’s beautifully conducted by Duncan Ward”

    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 14 September 2015 


    “Conductor Duncan Ward draws a ravishing account of this exquisite score.”

    David Gillard, Daily Mail, 16 October 2015

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    18 Mar 15 Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 Sinfonia Viva
    Derby Cathedral

    “I commented after Sinfonia Viva’s last concert in Derby Cathedral that Principal Conductor Duncan Ward’s Beethoven is clearly not afraid to live dangerously, and I can happily repeat that, after one of the most viscerally exciting performances of the Seventh Symphony I’ve heard. Steadily unfolding slow introduction moved into fleet-footed allegro with an irresistible joie-de-vivre that carried the performance though all four movements, played with scarcely a break. The Andante moved at a swift but not unhurried pace, as did the trio section of a nicely bouncy scherzo. The whole thing was capped by a whirlwind finale that prompted at least one whoop of delight from the audience.”

    Mike Wheeler, Music and Vision, 02 April 2015 

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    10 Jan 15 Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 Sinfonia Viva - Inaugural concert as Principal Conductor
    Derby Cathedral

    “[In] Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony … Ward coaxed an apt sense of mystery from the players in the introduction, and in that magical lead-in to the recapitulation, while setting a cracking pace for the quick music elsewhere (and there’s not much that’s actually slow in this symphony). Ward’s Beethoven is clearly not afraid to live dangerously, though the orchestra appeared to have no problems meeting his demands…. Derby concert-goers can look forward to some exciting times.”
    Mike Wheeler, Music and Vision, 17 January 2015 

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    01 Jul 13 'Manchester: A Maker of Maestros' Classical Music Magazine

    “Duncan Ward is a remarkable young man who won BBC Young Composer
    of the Year in 2005 and has had his music performed in India, China, the USA and
    across Europe, and broadcast. A pianist and organist, he has conducted in public
    masterclasses with Gergiev in London and Boulez in Lucerne, and had the Berlin
    post created for him by Sir Simon Rattle (also being given experience by Barenboim
    with his orchestra there).”

    Robert Beale, Classical Music Magazine, July 2013

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    03 Feb 13 Schubert: Symphony No. 5 Sinfonia Viva *Debut*
    Civic Theatre, Chelmsford

    “The conductor was 23 year old Duncan Ward, who already has a wealth of experience. He clearly enjoys making music, and his infectious enthusiasm, combined with remarkable interpretive skills and a fluent conducting style, made for a very enjoyable programme, beginning with the Fifth Symphony of the even more youthful Franz Schubert, directed with great panache from the effervescent opening to the dance-like Vivace finale.”

    Michael Gray, Michael Gray’s Arts Blog, 05 February 2013

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    01 Feb 13 BBC Radio 3 Broadcast

    “Duncan is one of the most engaging, intriguing, and exciting young talents – a real star for the future.”

    BBC Radio 3, Broadcast, February 2013

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    08 Nov 11 Elgar: The Music Makers Salford Choral Society

    “In Elgar’s The Music Makers, for solo mezzo, chorus and orchestra, Ward showed total command of the score and of the spirit of a difficult work. Observation of some subtle aspects of Elgar’s design was outstanding. To achieve this measure of interpretative insight at the age of 22 is surely a sign of exciting musicianship and skill. His career will be watched with interest.”

    Michael Kennedy CBE, November 2011