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 2016/17 season include debuts with Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, MDR Leipzig, Ensemble Modern, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Aalborg Symphony, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, and at Lucerne Festival with the Festival Academy Orchestra, return visits to Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and Bamberger Symphoniker, in addition to many and varied projects with Sinfonia Viva and assisting Sir Simon Rattle in Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre with London Symphony Orchestra and Berliner Philharmoniker.

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    Chacony in G Minor



Philharmonie Cologne, COLOGNE

Helmut Lachenmann: „...zwei Gefühle...“, Musik mit Leonardo (1992, rev. 2003) (ca. 25')
Isabel Mundry: NN, Auftragswerk von "Acht Brücken 2017" (2016/17) (ca. 25')

Helmut Lachenmann (Sprecher f. "Zwei Gefühle")
Charlotte Hellekant (Mezzosopran)
Ensemble Modern

Philharmonie Cologne, COLOGNE

Manfred Trojahn: Les Dentelles de Montmirail, für 2 Soprane solo, Chor und Ensemble, aus dem Zyklus "Quitter" nach Gedichten von René Char (2017) (50')

Solisten: Elsa Benoit (Sopran), Sarah Aristidou (Sopran)
Chor: Kölner Vokalsolisten
Ensemble Modern

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Sinfonia Viva, Principal Conductor

Duncan Ward assumed the position of Principal Conductor of Sinfonia Viva in January 2015. The ensemble is renowned in the United Kingdom as one of the most dynamic and versatile of its kind. His opening concert on 10 January 2015 in Derby Cathedral featured one of his own new compositions alongside Beethoven's Symphony No. 4. 

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Digital Concert Hall: Violins of Hope Concert

Click here to watch the Berliner Philharmoniker play a special concert to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Featuring Duncan Ward conducting Samuel Adler's Elegy for string orchestra and Ohad Ben-Ari's Violins of Hope for violin, cello and string ensemble (Première)

A special concert for a special occasion: On the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, musicians of the Berliner Philharmoniker played on violins which had once belonged to victims of the Holocaust. This project was made possible by the Israeli violin maker Amnon Weinstein who has collected and restored these instruments over many years.

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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

*Debut* Vienna Radio Symphony

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).'

Von Walter Weidringer, Die Presse, 15 November 2016

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

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, 24 February 2016, The Irish Times
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


Sinfonia Viva

Derby Cathedral, Derby

'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, 2016


Don Pasquale


'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

Beethoven 7

"Not afraid to live dangerously"

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


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

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


Sinfonia Viva Debut


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

BBC Radio 3


Duncan is one of the most engaging, intriguing, and exciting young talents - a real star for the future. BBC Radio 3


The Music Makers


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.

Salford Choral Society
Michael Kennedy CBE.