top of page

Artist's Statement


Playing with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for over 30 years, I spent roughly 4,000 nights immersed in performances of the operatic masterpieces. This gave me a deep experience of music that "works"  ̶  artistically crafted on its own terms, gratifying for the performers, and profoundly engaging for the audience. Playing night after night for such a passionate audience made me sensitive to the critical relationship among composer, performer, and listener. If that circle is not complete, then the work is not really successful. This has set a high bar for me as I wrestle to create my own music, which I hope can be truly effective on all levels, in a language that reflects our time.


My musical life began as a drummer, but creativity has been a part of my identity since I first engaged with music. I was improvising and composing from a young age, and playing jazz and rock 'n' roll and lots of new music. As I got serious about a professional career, I was drawn most strongly to playing timpani in an orchestra. This was the way for me to get inside the great classical repertoire. The obligations of a busy performing career slowed down my writing considerably, but since retiring from the Met in 2017 I have been able to focus on composition. I have become a piano student, as well as studying violin and cello; this in an attempt to expand my musicianship and develop my skills in writing for other instruments. As a performer, I recognize the value of composers who can help all of the instruments to sound their best. I have a minimum of formal training in composition, but a lifetime of experience in music to draw on.


I see the act of performance as something of a contract between listeners and performers  ̶  and composers. I respect and appreciate the willingness of an audience to invest their time in listening, and of course respect and admire the performers who commit their time and energy in the preparation and performance of the piece. I keep this always in my mind when I am writing, striving to honor their commitment with work that can give a meaningful experience to both listeners and performers.


Many thanks for your interest,

Duncan Patton

bottom of page