Duncan began studying the viola with Adrian Levine at Chetham’s School of Music. In 2012, he graduated from the Royal College of Music where he studied under Ian Jewel, whilst also reading physics at Imperial College London. He has since completed a master’s degree and Guildhall Artists Fellowship at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, supported by scholarships from the Worshipful Company of Drapers, Musicians Benevolent Fund and the Lee & Barkirgian Family Trust.
Duncan made his concerto debut in 2009, performing Vaughan Williams’ Flos Campi with Chester Philharmonic Orchestra. In this same year he won Imperial College’s Concerto Competition, consequently performing Hoffmeister’s Viola Concerto with the resident symphony orchestra. Duncan also performed Telemann’s Viola Concerto with Vale Royal Strings and in March 2013 returned to Chester Philharmonic, performing Walton’s Viola Concerto. He has given many solo recitals, recently including performances at Greygarth Hall and in the Chester Arts Federation concert series. In the summer of 2013, he gave an open air recital in Città della Pieve, Italy.
In demand as an orchestral musician, Duncan has performed regularly with the Hallé, played with the London Symphony Orchestra for an open air performance in Trafalgar Square, and with the English National Opera in their Evolve experience scheme. He has also performed with orchestras including Orpheus Sinfonia, London Firebird Orchestra and the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra of London, and was Principal Viola of Chester Chamber Orchestra, University of London Symphony Orchestra, and the International Opera Theatre for their 2013 tour of Italy. As a chamber musician, Duncan has played with several ensembles and currently plays in the Leben String Quartet, with whom he has performed at Cadogan Hall and other venues nationwide.
Duncan’s viola was made for him in 2007 by Helen Michetschlager.
Read a blog by Duncan about one of his favourite pieces, Dvořák’s ‘New World’ Symphony.
Duncan’s place in Southbank Sinfonia is generously supported by the Derrill Allatt Foundation.
Which three people, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with and why?
Gene Kranz - NASA flight director for the Apollo missions. Firstly because I think he would have a lot of interesting stories, secondly due to his ability to keep calm and focused in the face of adversity.
Richard Feynman - a great physicist, who as well as being a genius and making many developments, made great success out of explaining complicated physics in simple terms to non experts.
Antonin Dvořák - because I think we have many similar interests: Dvořák’s music, playing the viola, and steam trains.
What’s on your playlist right now?
Bit of a funny mixture. At the moment some 70s disco music and James Bond songs, because I have orchestral concerts coming up with those themes. I’ve also been listening to a film score I like by James Newton Howard, and have recently bought CDs of Puccini’s Turandot and Britten’s Les Illuminations. When I want a break from classical music David Gray, The Killers and KT Tunstall are quite high on my list.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.
I have a physics degree. When leaving school I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do music or physics, so I found a course at Imperial College/Royal College of Music where I could do both, and delayed the decision by a few years.