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Duncan Patton is a composer who had a long career as an orchestral musician. He served as a principal timpanist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for over three decades, and has also been a long-time member of the percussion faculty at the Manhattan School of Music. His earlier works were primarily for percussion, often featuring the timpani. In recent years he has gone on to explore work for all instruments, including voice, mostly in a chamber music setting. His work places a premium on expression and communication, and he strives to create something beautiful for the performers to savor.


April 2024 saw the premiere of his new work for speaking percussionist, “The Fourth Kingdom,” in which the performer recites a text about the history of plastic and the problem of plastic pollution, while performing on a set-up of 20+ plastic objects. December 2023 saw the live performance premier of his solo marimba work “Nothing Follows,” a piece inspired by a poem of Maxine Scates. In November 2023, the Manhattan School of Music presented a full evening concert of Mr. Patton’s works, including four world premieres.


Other recent performances include “The Forest does not Weep” for twelve celli, performed by Natasha Brofsky’s Juilliard cello studio. "There Will Come a Time," for chorus and piano, based on the text of a speech by President Barack Obama, which was performed as a livestream by Kent Tritle and the Musica Sacra Chorus. The percussion duo "Vim" was performed at Symphony Hall in Detroit as part of New Music Detroit's annual Strange Beautiful Music marathon. "What we call I is just a swinging door...," a quintet for four flutes and marimba, was presented at Juilliard, and "Loud Music!," a quintet for low brass and timpani, was part of a brass concert at the Manhattan School of Music. The marimba solo "Isolamento" was livestreamed as part of a New World Symphony program.


"Cryptic Circle" is Mr. Patton's collection of six solo pieces for timpani, which has become popular among timpanists. Two selections from this were included in a recent Cleveland Orchestra timpani audition. He is also the author of the acclaimed timpani method and etude book "The Artist Timpanist." His works are published by Bachovich Music in New York.

Mr. Patton is a native of the Albany, NY area. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music. Prior to Joining the Met, he was Principal Timpanist of the Honolulu Symphony. He currently resides in Leonia, New Jersey with his wife, Karen Marx, and dog, Ike.

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