Duncan Ward

Lucerne Symphony Orchestra debut: December 17, 2023

Pervasive, precise and accentuated work

British conductor Duncan Ward has established himself as one of the most exciting and versatile conductors of his generation. He is principal conductor of the philharmonie zuidnederland and music director of the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra, a new position created by the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.


In 2022/23 Duncan appears with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (with tours to Salzburg and Dortmund), the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the NDR Elbphilharmonie, and he conducts the opening ceremony of the Salzburg Festival with the Mozarteum Orchestra, which will be televised live. He will also appear with the Luxembourg Opera in Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, and will make his North American debut at the MET in the fall of 2022 with Die Zauberflöte.

In the 2021/22 season, Duncan made his debut at Opera du Rhin in Strasbourg with a new production of Così fan tutte. He also returned to Oper Köln for a revival of Die Zauberflöte, where he had previously conducted the German premiere of Brett Dean’s Hamlet. Other opera highlights have included the Chinese premiere of Peter Grimes, a new production of La Passion de Simone (Saariaho) at the Deutsche Oper, and a chamber version of Manon Lescaut with the Berlin Philharmonic at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival, as well as a double bill of Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti and Macmillan’s Clemency with the Netherlands National Opera, and Don Pasquale, Cendrillon, and Hamlet for Glyndebourne-on-Tour.

Recent symphonic highlights include his debuts with the Bern Symphony Orchestra and NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, and return visits with the London, Bavarian Runfunks, Barcelona, Basel, Antwerp, Aalborg Symphony Orchestras, Gürzenich- Orchester Köln, Duisburger Philharmoniker, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Staatsorchester Stuttgart, Zürcher Kammerorchester, and Orchestre de Paris. In July 2022, he conducted an evening with multiple Grammy-nominated sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar and the Britten Sinfonia. Duncan is a regular collaborator with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and conducted them at the Schleswig-Holstein and Klosters Festival in the summer of 2021. He is particularly known for his wide-ranging repertoire, which he has mastered with period-instrument ensembles such as Balthasar Neumann, as well as with contemporary music specialists such as Ensemble Modern and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

He previously served as conducting fellow of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Academy, associate conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and principal conductor of Sinfonia Viva. Duncan is also an accomplished composer – winner of the 2005 BBC Young Composer of the Year – and is now published by Peters Edition. His works have been performed and recorded by the Swedish Radio Symphony, Magdalena Kozena, London Symphony Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Duncan is passionate about various music charities and in his late teens co-founded the WAM Foundation, which enables young British musicians to teach in schools across India. He has also worked regularly with the South African non-profit organization MIAGI, for whom he led a major tour in 2018 to celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth. Back in the UK, he has directed acclaimed productions with the homeless performers of Streetwise Opera, including at the 2012 London Olympics. Through his work in India, Duncan had the rare privilege of being personally invited to study Indian classical music with the late great sitarist Ravi Shankar.

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