Content Type

This project was made possible by funding through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy and the Heritage Policy Branch of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Canadian Heritage

Duncan Hopkins


DUNCAN HOPKINS (double bassist) was born in England where he started his musical training at the age of four. After the family moved to Canada (St. Catharines, Ontario), he began studying classical piano when he was 10 years old. Over most of the next decade, he sang in choirs, including the respected Canadiana Choir, throughout the Niagara Region. His interest in the double bass, which would become his lifelong musical focus, was sparked when he was 18.

Hopkins obtained his Bachelor of Business Economics Degree from Brock University in St. Catharines in 1989. After graduating, he moved to Montreal to study with bassist Michel Donato in McGill University’s Jazz Program. In 1990 he attended the Banff Centre for the performing Arts and studied Bass with Rufus Reid and Composition with Kenny Wheeler. In 1991, Hopkins was awarded a Canada Arts Council grant to study with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pederson in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he also met and studied with Red Mitchell and Kenny Wheeler. In 1993 Duncan was awarded a Chalmers award from the Ontario Arts Council to study bass and composition with Dave Holland in New York City. He continued his studies in New York for two more years, before moving to Toronto to begin his professional career.

For the past several years, Duncan Hopkins has been establishing himself as a composer, arranger, and educator internationally, touring extensively throughout Canada, Great Britain, Europe, Brazil, and the United States, and living and working in the U.K. for extended periods. He is currently a visiting professor of jazz studies at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music as well as an occasional tutor at the Guildhall School of Music and the Junior Academy of Music in London, England. He is also a part of the Global Music Foundation giving Master Classes throughout Europe, most recently (2008) in Tuscany. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews for Double Bassist Magazine in the U.K.

Hopkins’ solo albums which feature all original material from the leader, have all received unanimous international critical acclaim acclaim. The newest addition to his discography is the outstanding ‘Red & Brassy’ (2006) in which Hopkins fronts the Canadian Staff Band of The Salvation Army. Aside from his own projects, Hopkins has played as a sideman for a wide variety of artists worldwide including Diana Krall, Mark Murphy, Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, Scott Hamilton, Sam Rivers, and arrangers Robert Farnon and Ralph Carmichael. He was a member of Rob McConnell’s The Boss Brass for four years, and can be heard on more than 40 albums, as well as numerous CBC, BBC, and NPR recordings.

Duncan Hopkins is a member of the Canadian Jazz Quartet (with Gary Benson on guitar, Frank Wright on vibes, and Don Vickery on drums. The CJQ released their latest album, “Just Friends” in April 2009. He played with the CJQ in two separate “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Concerts at the Ontario Science Centre, first on October 21, 1996 and more recently on January 12, 2004. His own Duncan Hopkins Quintet was featured in the “Sound of Jazz” Concert Series on March 25, 1996.

1999 – Winner (with the Chris Mitchell Quintet) of the Montreal International Jazz Festival’s ‘Prix de Jazz du Maurier’
Nominated for a JUNO Award for his ‘Secret’ CD
Nominated for a Durham Music Society Award for his ‘Snapshots’ album
2006 - National Jazz Awards Nominee as ‘Bassist of the Year’
Recipient of a Canada Council for the Arts Award for Composition for Brass Band and Jazz Quartet


is leader of

is member of

has image of

Duncan HopkinsJohn Sumner (drums), Duncan Hopkins (bass), Brian Ogilvie (sax)