Jamal Duncan

ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre welcomes new instrumental conducting professor

By

Lynne MacDonald

The Arizona State University School of Music, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts welcomes Jamal Duncan as assistant professor of instrumental conducting beginning in August 2020.

“I am passionate about making music more accessible, equitable, inclusive and diverse,” Duncan said. “With the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre on the forefront of making all aspects of music more relevant in our society and the conducting program’s strong tradition of excellence, I am very excited to join a team that is helping to train the next generation of leaders in instrumental conducting.”

From musical performance to teacher training, Duncan is actively involved in commissioning new works and performing work at the cutting edge of contemporary concert music.

“We are pleased to welcome Jamal Duncan to the conducting faculty in the ASU School of Music,” said Heather Landes, director of the school. “Dr. Duncan’s varied career as a conductor in postsecondary and K–12 environments is an excellent match with our faculty as we work to prepare our students with the necessary tools to succeed as 21st-century musicians and creative leaders.”

Duncan said he is interested in how music tells the story of different cultures and has been active in curating concerts that tell those stories. One recent project was a commission with the Arkansas New Music Ensemble of composer Andrea Clearfield. The resulting work, “Rabsong Shar,” centers on traditional music from the Upper Mustang region of the Himalayas. Sung in the Mustang dialect of Tibetan, the piece for soprano voice, electronics and chamber ensemble deals with memory, loss and change. It is also a celebration of song as a way to convey the story of a people and to honor, respect and preserve a culture and its language.

Duncan’s love of instrumental conducting began when he was an undergraduate student and experienced what he called the thrill of communicating his musical ideas through conducting.

Duncan’s previous position at the University of Arkansas was that of assistant director of bands. In that capacity, he served as assistant director of the Razorback Marching Band, director of the Hogwild Pep Band, conductor of the symphonic band, and musical director of the Arkansas New Music Ensemble. He has served as guest conductor at numerous high school and college clinics throughout the central and western United States.

He has also taught middle school band, music appreciation and elementary general music in the public schools of Lansing, Michigan, for seven years and was the music director and conductor of the Flint Youth Wind Ensemble, Flint School of Performing Arts.

“Through their uniqueness, diversity, and backgrounds, the people I have worked with have prepared me to reach a new generation of students on their level and help to serve as a bridge to the world of professional musicianship,” Duncan said. “Being a small part in the training of these blossoming musicians is a very rewarding and humbling experience.”

A native of Flint, Michigan, Duncan received a Doctor of Musical Arts and a Master of Music in wind conducting from Michigan State University, where he studied under the direction of Kevin L. Sedatole. He received a Bachelor of Music in clarinet performance with teacher certification from the University of Michigan.