Duncan Ward new chief conductor

Duncan Ward new chief conductor

Starting September 2021, British conductor Duncan Ward will be philharmonie zuidnederland’s new chief conductor. “The combination of know-how and skill, as well as charisma, are especially important when choosing a new chief conductor for philharmonie zuidnederland, aiming for a fruitful collaboration for years to come. Duncan Ward is an excellent choice to guide the orchestra and shape it in the coming period,” the orchestra’s intendant Stefan Rosu explained.

Biography Duncan Ward

British conductor Duncan Ward (1989) was born in Kent to a non-musical family. He showed an early love for music and was soon exploring ways to express it through improvising on the piano, horn, composing, and conducting. Today, he is one of the most versatile conductors of his generation, working regularly with orchestras such as the Orchestre de Paris, Staatskapelle Dresden, London Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Radio Symphony and Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. In January 2020, Duncan was appointed by Festival d’Aix-en-Provence as Music Director of the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra, a position which he holds until 2023. 

Duncan is passionate about a hugely wide-ranging repertoire, feeling equally at home with period instrument ensembles as in the opera house directing major contemporary works such as Brett Dean’s Hamlet. He is a strong advocate for social musical projects, ranging from his work with the homeless performers of Streetwise Opera including a performance at the Royal Opera House as part of the London 2012 Olympics, to teaching music to children in schools and orphanages across India through the WAM Foundation that he co-founded in 2006. The charity attracted the attention of the late Ravi Shankar, who invited Duncan to study with him in California in 2010. Duncan is also an accomplished composer, published by Peters Edition and performed internationally by ensembles from the Swedish Radio Symphony to the BBC Singers. 

Duncan made his debut with philharmonie zuidnederland in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in the 19/20 season. “I felt a natural connection with the orchestra from the first rehearsal, and was very excited by our musical exchange on one of the most notoriously demanding works in the repertoire - Debussy’s Jeux. I sensed that this was a palette of colours and a collection of open, curious musicians that I would love to get to know better.”

Read Duncan's full biography here.

Duncan Ward and philharmonie zuidnederland

Both the orchestra and Duncan Ward share the vision that classical music can enrich everyone’s life. The philharmonie zuidnederland offers a great diversity of activities for various audiences, much like Ward who, as a conductor and a composer, strongly commits himself to making classical music much more broadly accessible. Ward has an extensive knowledge of the repertoire: his musical interests are broad, reaching well beyond the styles traditionally associated with classical music, and he is widely respected for his interpretation of contemporary music. Together with philharmonie zuidnederland, he will perform a wide range of repertoire, whilst engaging in innovative projects to nurture the orchestra into the future. Ward’s positive energy and infectious enthusiasm combined with the orchestra’s musical qualities are sure to create an exceptional experience for the audience. “Duncan knows how to fathom a musical score and bring a composer’s intentions vividly to life. He possesses the natural authority, conducting technique and experience to communicate his interpretation to the musicians. He is a motivator through and through: he motivates people to bring out the best in themselves. He is demanding, but always with trust, friendliness, and respect,” said Stefan Rosu. Ward has been appointed for an initial term of three seasons, from September 2021. 

Credits photo's: Hugo Thomassen