Duncan Ward

Chief Conductor Designate, philharmonie zuidnederland
Music Director, Mediterranean Youth Orchestra (Festival d’Aix-en-Provence)
Composer signed with Peters Edition

© 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 world’s leading ensembles and opera houses. Duncan is Chief Conductor Designate of philharmonie zuidnederland, a position he will take up in September 2021 for an initial three season contract. In January 2020, he was appointed by Festival d’Aix-en-Provence as Music Director of the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra, a position which he holds until 2023.

Recent highlights have included engagements with Staatskapelle Dresden, London Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Aurora Orchestra, Staatsorchester Stuttgart, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and Gürzenich Orchester. At the beginning of the 2019/20 season, Duncan gave the German premiere of Brett Dean’s acclaimed Hamlet at Oper Köln.

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 ensembles. He also held the post of Associate Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

Plans for the 2020/21 season include debuts with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Zürcher Kammerorchester, Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, Moscow Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Orquestra Simfónica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, Musikkollegium Winterthur, Bochum Symphoniker & NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic. In addition, he will make return visits to London Symphony Orchestra, Münchener Kammerorchester, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Oper Köln for a production of Rigoletto.

Also an accomplished composer – winner of the 2005 BBC Young Composer of the Year – Duncan is now published by Peters Edition. His works have been performed by the Swedish Radio Symphony, LSO and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Also passionately involved in music charity projects across India, South Africa and closer to home with Streetwise Opera, he had the rare privilege to personally study Indian classical music with the late great sitarist Ravi Shankar.


Video & Audio

From The Green Room

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    25 Feb 21 Bacewicz, Strauss & Schreker London Symphony Orchestra
    LSO St Luke's

    [Bacewicz Music for Strings, Trumpets and Percussion] “Ward’s superbly controlled performance was marvellous in its fierce dynamism and electrifying precision.”

    [Schreker Chamber Symphony] “…an extraordinary display of kaleidoscopic colour, which Ward teased out with a combination of refinement and spine-tingling immediacy”.

    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 26 Feb 2021

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    23 Jan 21 Ravel, Comas, Bartok & Ravel Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya
    Auditori de Barcelona

    ‘The young English conductor and composer Duncan Ward gave impetus to the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and the National Orchestra of Catalonia (OBC). His gestural refinement, his impressive sympathy, his careful direction and his musical taste were captured in “Le cahos”, by Les élémens, by the Parisian Jean-Féry Rebel, and in Le tombeau de Couperin, by Maurice Ravel . Duncan Ward highlighted the transparent textures of the OBC with masterful clarity and a richness of sonorities.’

    Carme Miró, Sonograma Magazine, 26 Jan 2021

    ‘With an upward career, Ward looks confident, confident and calm on the podium, moving, almost dancing to the music as he fixes both on the whole of the work and on those small but fundamental details that make a piece sound divine.’

    El Periodico, 22 Jan 2021

    [Jean-Féry Rebel – Le Chaos]: ‘The OBC interpreted it convincingly, rejoicing in the baroque sound and intimacy, integrating the harpsichord naturally into the fabric of the orchestra despite the small staff […]’

    Carlos Garcia Reche, Press Music, 28 Jan 2021

    [Ravel – Le tombeau de Couperin] ‘The liveliness of the Prelude – splendid oboe – the rhythmic asymmetry that prevails in the Forlane, with its modern harmony, the sifted atmosphere of the delicious Minuet and a final Rigodon with excess volume by the brass, allowed us to appreciate the best of talent of this director.’

    Lluís Trullén, Scherzo, 24 Jan 2021

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    04 Dec 20 Schumann, Berlioz, Farrenc Royal Northern Sinfonia
    Sage Gateshead

    Schumann: Overture, Scherzo & Finale

    “Instruments blended sweetly in the Scherzo section, ending with understated élan. The Finale was bold, the parts melting together with astute deliberation, allowing us glimpses of the structural unity underlying the entire composition.”

    Linda Holt, bachtrack, 04 Dec 2020

    “[…] with just 24 strings in the orchestra, the lithe playing and transparent textures convincingly refuted the traditional complaint about the heavy-handedness of Schumann’s orchestration.”

    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 07 Dec 2020

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    10 Feb 20 Debussy/Varese/Koechlin/Ravel Staatsorchester Stuttgart

    “Die Einschaltungen präparierter Klangpartien wirkten ausgesprochen facettenreich, Bewegung und Raum gingen nahtlos ineinander über. Reiben, Schlagen, Pfeifen, Mahlen und Blasen verschwammen zu einem irisierenden, intensiven Klangkosmos, den das Staatsorchester Stuttgart unter Ducan Ward einfühlsam auskostete. Stehende Harmonien und dichte Schlagzeugkontrapunktik wechselten sich reizvoll ab.”

    “The activation of prepared sound sections [in Varese’s “Deserts”] was extremely multifaceted, movement and space merged seamlessly. Rubbing, beating, whistling, grinding and blowing blurred to an iridescent, intense cosmos of sound, which the Stuttgart State Orchestra under Ducan Ward delicately savored. Homophonic harmonies and tight drum counterpoint alternated delightfully.”

    Alexander Walther, Online Merker, 11 Feb 2020

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    14 Dec 19 Louise Farrenc: Symphony No. 3 Aurora Orchestra
    Kings Place

    [Farrenc Symphony No. 3] was new to most of this audience and the orchestra too – but this was the performance it needed, thanks to the splendid advocacy of the young British conductor Duncan Ward […], who drew out the distinct characters of every theme, guiding us through the narrative (from memory) with masterful clarity and a wealth of affection. He and the Aurora plunged us headlong into the composer’s atmospheric world; you could almost feel you would walk out of the hall into 19th-century Paris.

    Jessica Duchen, The Arts Desk, 16 Dec 19

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    24 Nov 19 Brett Dean Hamlet
    Oper Köln

    “Duncan Ward conducted Hamlet on the Glyndebourne Tour and here marshalled his scattered forces with great aplomb.”

    Matthew Rye, Bachtrack, 25 Nov 19


    “Das Ensemble leistet Außerordentliches, nicht zuletzt, weil Duncan Ward als Dirigent des im Ausweichquartier der Kölner Oper links von der Bühne positionierten Gürzenich-Orchesters stets alle Fäden in der Hand hält. Bretts Musik ist ohnehin schon energiegeladen und birst geradezu vor dramatischen Momenten und packenden Psychologisierungen, doch Ward führt das Orchester und auch die Sänger zu einer brillanten Ensembleleistung. Die Klanglichkeit der Musik schwankt zwischen irisierend-ätherischen Klängen und einer ruppigen Rauheit, die die heftige Dramatik des Bühnengeschehens gezielt unterstreicht, aber nicht wahllos verdoppelt.”

    “The ensemble performs extraordinarily, not least because Duncan Ward, as the conductor of the Gürzenich Orchestra […], always has everything in hand. Brett’s music is already full of energy and bursts with dramatic moments and thrilling psychology, but Ward leads the orchestra and the singers to a brilliant ensemble performance. The sonority of the music varies between iridescent-ethereal sounds and a gruff roughness, which emphasizes the violent drama of the stage action purposefully […]”

    Guido Krawinkel, Die Deutsche Bühne, 25 Nov 19


    “Der junge Dirigent Duncan Ward steuert den riesigen musikalischen Apparat, samt exzellent aufspielendem Gürzenich-Orchester durch die knifflige Partitur.”

    “The young conductor Duncan Ward controls the huge musical apparatus, along with the excellently performing Gürzenich Orchestra, through the tricky score.”

    Sebastian Jacobs, Der Opernfreund, 25 Nov 19


    “Zur gezwungenen Heiterkeit bei Hofe, wo man den neuen König samt frisch vermählter Frau feiert, rumort es mächtig im Orchester. Zu Hamlets erstem Monolog weicht das instrumentale Getriebe zarten Silberklängen, um gleich darauf wieder in die dramatische Schilderung des Auftritts von dessen ermordetem Vater zu kippen.”

    “The forced cheerfulness at court, where one celebrates the new king together with newly wedded wife, rumbles powerfully in the orchestra. Hamlet’s first monologue gives way to the instrumental transmission of delicate silver sounds, and then immediately back into the dramatic portrayal of the appearance of his murdered father.”

    Rainer Nonnenmann, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, 26 Nov 19


    “Das Orchester tönt diesmal von links, und der junge Dirigent Duncan Ward sprüht vor Begeisterung für die anspruchsvolle Partitur, die das gesamte Vokabular der Neuen Musik abruft. donnert der Chor (Rustam Samedov) sehr mächtig, ein Gegenentwurf zu einem statischen „Semi Chorus“ (Rheinstimmen Ensemble), der kommentierend eingreift. Ganz imposant ist der Einsatz eines Akkordeonisten (James Grabb), der als fahrender Musiker das „Spiel im Spiel“ der reisenden Schauspieler begleitet und hochvirtuose Beiträge liefert, die oft im Unisono mit dem kompletten Orchester ablaufen – das klappte zur Premiere hervorragend.”

    “This time the orchestra sounds from the left, and the young conductor Duncan Ward exudes enthusiasm for the demanding score that recalls the entire vocabulary of New Music. […] the choir (Rustam Samedov) thunders very powerfully, a counter-draft to a static “Semi Chorus” (Rhine Voices Ensemble), which intervenes commentingly. The use of an accordionist (James Grabb), who as a travelling musician accompanies the “game in the game” of the travelling actors and delivers highly virtuosic contributions, which often take place in unison with the entire orchestra – that worked out well at the premiere.”

    Olaf Weiden, Kölnische Rundschau, 25 Nov 19


    “Jocelyn hat die verschiedene Ebenen des Stücks faszinierend zu einem einheitlichen Ganzen zusammengefügt, dreieinhalb Stunden Hochspannung mit „Sitzen auf der Stuhlkante“- keine Sekunde Langeweile. Das lag in erster Linie am Dirigat des jungen Duncan Ward und dem fantastisch aufspielenden, großen und sehr aufmerksamen Gürzenichorchester, unsichtbar auf der linken Seite positioniert.”

    “Jocelyn has intrigued the various levels of the piece into a unified whole, three and a half hours of high tension with “sitting on the edge of the chair” – no second boredom. This was primarily due to the direction of the young Duncan Ward and the fantastic playing, large and very attentive Gürzenich orchestra, invisibly positioned on the left side.”

    Dr. Michael Cramer, Das Opernmagazin, 3 Dec 19


    “Duncan Ward am Pult des Genre-versierten und äußerst aufmerksam reagierenden Gürzenich-Orchesters entfaltet Deans üppige Klangkulisse farbig und druckvoll.”

    “Duncan Ward on the podium of the genre-versed and extremely attentive Gürzenich orchestra unfolds Dean’s lush soundscape in colour and punch.”

    Pedro Obiera, O-Ton, 27 Nov 19


    “Duncan Ward dirige les troupes vivaces du Gürzenich-Orchester Köln avec ce qu’il faut d’acuité, de permission et de liant pour faire monter l’exactitude des sentiments en points névralgiques.”

    Thibault Vicq, Opera Online, 30 Nov 19


    “Riesenapplaus für das Gürzenich Orchester, das unter Duncan Ward zeitgenössische Musik so intonierte, wie man es sich nur wünschen kann. Der sehr junge Dirigent war der ausdrückliche Wunsch des Komponisten Brett Dean. Er hat eine gute, eine wirklich ausgezeichnete Wahl getroffen.”

    “Huge applause for the Gürzenich Orchestra, which under Duncan Ward played contemporary music as one would wish for. The very young conductor was the express wish of the composer Brett Dean. He made a good, really excellent choice.”

    Matilda, Live in der Oper, 9 Dec 19

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    17 Sep 19 Schumann, Barry & Elgar Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
    Kölner Philharmonie

    “Unter Leitung von Duncan Ward wurden Ouvertüre, Scherzo und Finale op. 52 [Schumann] in der Philharmonie beherzt auf die Aschenbahn gesetzt: Die Konturen waren messerscharf gezeichnet, kleine Beschleunigungen innerhalb der Phrasen spendeten Vitalität und Zielorientierung. Kontrabass-Pizzicati titschten wie hochelastische Flummis auf; die individuellen Bläserfarben (besonders Hörner und Fagotte) traten dezent hervor, ohne den Tuttiklang zu zerstreuen. Frei und luftig pulsierten die rhythmischen Patterns in Scherzo und Finale”

    Under the direction of Duncan Ward, the Overture, Scherzo and Finale Op. 52 [Schumann] in the Philharmonie was wonderfully executed: the contours were razor sharp, small accelerations within the phrases gave vitality and goal orientation; […] the individual brass colours (especially horns and bassoons) came out discreetly without distracting from the tutti passages; […] the rhythmic patterns in Scherzo and Finale pulsated freely and airily.

    Stefan Rütter, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, 20 Sep 19

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    31 Aug 19 Verdi, Ravel & Brahms Junge Norddeutsche Philharmonie
    Stadthalle Wilhemshaven

    “Der 29-Jährige hat mit charismatischer Ausstrahlung bei den Musikern Eindruck gemacht. Seine Mimik und Körperspannung zieht sich bis in den letzten Millimeter seines Taktstocks und durchdringt jeden. Die Musiker gehorchen auf die Sekunde und fesseln sogleich mit präziser und akzentuierter Arbeit.”

    The 29-year-old made a lasting impression with his charismatic presence among the musicians. His facial expressions and body tension extend to the last millimetre of his baton, causing the musicians to respond with precise and accentuated playing.

    Birgit Brodisch, 2 Sep 19, Nordwest-Zeitung

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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