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Duncan started playing the flugel horn at the age of 12, moving quickly onto Eb tuba, with the Wakefield Schools Band under the baton of Les Heppleston; and subsequently the Wakefield Youth Band, where he first worked with his lifelong mentor Peter Kitson. He progressed onto the Yorkshire Schools Band, and the National Youth Band.
Duncan conducted his first win at the age of 16, in the Yorkshire Area Championships. He formed the Warren Youth Band aged 17, and led them on to many podium successes; including his first National Championship in 1982, aged 24. Duncan has been associated with over 300 bands during his career, including a residency of 27 years as the Musical Director of Newstead Welfare. Duncan is currently the Musical Director of Horbury Victoria – a position which takes him back to his banding roots, as he first applied for a conducting post with them aged just 16!
Duncan worked until 2021 as a full time classroom based music teacher and Assistant Headteacher within a school for children with additional needs. His entire teaching and peripatetic career has been focussed on working in areas of deprivation and high social mobility to make music inclusive and accessible to all.
Duncan has achieved a range of ‘firsts’ during his career, including being the first black conductor at the top section final of the National Championships of Great Britain, at Brass in Concert, and at the British Open. Duncan reached his 100th win in March 2022, with the Jayess Newbiggin Band. As an adjudicator Duncan has worked at all levels, completing over 90 adjudications. He is an AOBBA member, a trustee of the NYBBGB, and a trustee of Black Dyke Band.
Duncan was awarded the Mortimer Medal in September 2022 in recognition of a lifetime commitment to inclusion and education within the brass band movement.