News & Reviews

Rising Star Takes Up the Baton With Sinfonia Viva

British conductor Duncan Ward (25) has been appointed Principal Conductor of Sinfonia Viva, taking up the post in January 2015 for a minimum initial contract of two years.

He has been based in Berlin for the past two years as Conducting Scholar of the Berliner Philharmoniker Orchester-Akademie, to which he was appointed on the recommendation of Sir Simon Rattle in 2012.

Sinfonia Viva Chief Executive Peter Helps commented: “We are delighted that Duncan has joined us as Principal Conductor. His breadth of skills as both a conductor and composer have already made a huge impact on the orchestral world and he is the perfect fit for Sinfonia Viva.”

Duncan said: “Viva is an exciting ensemble with a fresh and dynamic outlook on what it means to be an orchestra today.

I look forward to bringing the various diverse passions of my musical life into partnership with the similarly ever-curious virtuosi of the orchestra to create some really exciting and innovative music making."

Orchestra Leader Benedict Holland continued “As an Orchestra, we pride ourselves on being able to embrace new opportunities and ways of working to make classical music accessible. As musicians, we all work with orchestras nationally and internationally - but this Orchestra is our first love and I am sure that Duncan will quickly become part of the Viva family and bring his own vibrancy to our music making”.

His first concert as Principal Conductor will be in Derby Cathedral on Sunday 10 January 2015 featuring Britten’s Les Illuminations with soprano Rebecca Bottone.

His appointment is sponsored by the Nottingham City Gate branch of International Bank, Handelsbanken.

More about Duncan Ward

As well as taking up the position with Sinfonia Viva, the 2014/15 season will mark Duncan Ward’s debut with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Luxembourg Philharmonic, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Symphony Orchestra of India. He also returns to Baden-Baden Easter Festival (Traviata), Britten Sinfonia, Ludwigsburg Schlossfestspiele, and MIAGI – a specialist youth music organisation in South Africa.

Recent highlights include conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker in their Britten100 concert with Ian Bostridge, International Contemporary Ensemble in the Acht Brucken Festival, Cologne and conducting a special arrangement of “Kleine” Manon Lescaut at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival.

He has also made successful debuts with the Bamberg and Lucerne Symphony orchestras, Northern Sinfonia, Royal Scottish National, Ludwigsburg Schlossfestspiele with Igor Levit, Southbank Sinfonia, Ulster Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales as well as conducting the Chinese premiere of Peter Grimes in Beijing with a stellar international cast.

Duncan won the 2005 BBC Young Composer of the Year and is now published by Peters Edition. Recent composing highlights include a work for the LSO as part of their Panufnik Scheme and “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” performed by members of the National Youth Orchestra at the Southbank’s “Imagine” Festival in 2014. His works have also been performed by groups such as the Endymion Ensemble, BBC Singers and The Sixteen. He was appointed Composer for Coutts Bank's Family Business Awards in 2008.

He is passionate about working with young people and local communities. Following a month working in India in 2006, Duncan subsequently co-founded the WAM Foundation which sends young UK musicians each year to teach Western classical music in schools across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Kerala. The charity attracted the attention of the great late Ravi Shankar, who invited Duncan to study with him in California in 2010.

In Summer 2012, he conducted at the Royal Opera House as part of the London 2012 Festival with members of Streetwise Opera and in 2013 was Music Director of their critically acclaimed production “The Answer to Everything”.

Duncan Ward was educated in Kent, attended Junior Trinity and was a member of the National Youth Orchestra. He went on to Manchester to study jointly degrees at the University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music and has since worked with some of the top international orchestras.

Published 17 September 2014

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