Joe Duddell studied music at Salford University and then with Steve Martland at the Royal Academy of Music, where he became Composition Fellow. He went on to teach at both Exeter and Brunel Universities before taking up the position of Reader in Music at Salford University in 2007.
Duddell lists his influences as including Tippett, Stravinsky, Joy Division, New Order and Nick Drake and his works frequently borrow titles from some of his favourite songs and albums. He has received several commissions from the BBC, including Parallel Lines for the percussionist Colin Currie, The Realside for the BBC Singers' 75th Anniversary, and Vaporize for Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne's Proms chamber music recital in 2000. His relationship with the Proms continued in 2002 when he was part of the King's Singers' Orianna project and in 2003 his percussion concerto Ruby was premiered there by Colin Currie and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop. It immediately received further performances in both the BBC and European Young Musician of the Year competitions.
He has also received commissions from the BT Scottish Ensemble, including Snowblind for marimba and strings which Colin Currie toured with the group around Scotland in 2002. He went on to write Not Waving But Drowning for the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in 2003, Shadowplay, a cello concerto for Thomas Carroll and Sinfonia ViVA!, Isolation for Orchestra of the Swan in 2006 and The Redwood Tree for the Royal Marines Band which was premiered at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival. The same year he also wrote Azalea Fragments for the London Symphony Orchestra.
Duddell’s profile reached new levels in summer 2009 when he led one of the most successful and talked about events of the second Manchester International Festival, a collaboration between Mercury Music Prize winning band Elbow and The Hallé in the Bridgewater Hall. Duddell curated, arranged and conducted an evening of Elbow’s music from across their back catalogue which was also relayed live in Manchester’s Exchange Square.
Duddell was nominated for the BBC Radio 3 Listeners Award at the first British Composer Awards in 2003 and was Composer in Residence at both the 2003 Lichfield Festival and the 2008 Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts.