Since 2021 Duncan Ward is our chief conductor. 'Duncan has an infectious enthusiasm. You can feel his energy on stage. His knowledge and skills are of enormous value to Philzuid. Duncan is the ideal chief conductor to shape our orchestra in the coming years,' says Stefan Rosu, director of Philzuid.
Our chief conductor
Duncan Ward has been the chief conductor of Philzuid since 2021.
Born in 1989, Duncan’s interest in music was evident at an early age. He began his musical development playing the French horn and piano, but also with composition and conducting. He currently has a busy international career working regularly with orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Vienna, Orchestre de Paris, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg and the Staatskapelle Dreesden. Ward is also an acclaimed opera conductor, making his debut with the Metropolitan Opera of New York in 2022.
British conductor Duncan Ward (1989) was born in Kent, England into a non-musical family. He had an early interest in music and oriented himself broadly: by playing (piano and horn), by listening, composing and conducting. Duncan has established himself as one of the most exciting and versatile conductors of his generation. He is Chief Conductor of Philzuid, the symphonic orchestra of the South Netherlands and Music Director of the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra, a new position created by Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
Duncan cherishes a warm enthusiasm for a very broad repertoire. He feels as much at ease in authentic performance practice as he does in the great works of contemporary opera, such as Hamlet by composer Brett Dean. Furthermore, he is an ambassador of social music projects: from his work with the homeless musicians of the Streetwise Opera project, with a performance at the Royal Opera House during the London 2012 Olympic Games, to teaching music to children in schools and orphanages across India as part of the WAM Foundation which he helped establish in 2006. This charity also impressed the late Ravi Shankar. Shankar then invited Duncan to study with him in California. Finally, Duncan is also a proven composer, with Peters Edition as his regular publisher. His works have been performed at home and abroad by ensembles from the Swedish Radio Orchestra to the BBC Singers. In the season 2019-2020, Duncan made his debut with Philzuid in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
I felt a natural connection with the orchestra, right from our first rehearsal. I was immediately very excited by our musical exchange, including one of the most demanding works in the repertoire: Debussy's Jeux. I immediately felt that I was dealing with a color palette and a collection of open, curious musicians who I would really like to get to know much better.
Philzuid and Duncan Ward
Both share the vision that classical music can enrich everyone's life. Philzuid offers a wide variety of activities for different audiences, just as Ward, as a conductor and composer, is committed to making classical music universally accessible. Ward has a broad repertoire, his musical knowledge and interests are not limited to classical music, he is equally at home with and known for, his interpretation of contemporary pieces. The choice of Duncan Ward as our chief conductor is based on his impressive career as a young conductor. Together with Philzuid, he will perform a wide range of traditional repertoire and is also involved in innovative projects that will further broaden the orchestra’s horizons. His positive energy and infectious enthusiasm benefit the quality of our music making and thus also the concert experience.
“Duncan deeply understands a musical score and his goal is then to convey the composer's intentions. He understands how to inspire the musicians with his conducting technique and interpretation and is a motivator par excellence, encouraging people to get the very best out of themselves. He is demanding, but with confidence, kindness and respect”, says Stefan Rosu.