Dominican conductor and composer, Darwin Aquino appears internationally and is regarded as among the most accomplished Caribbean artists of his generation, in both symphonic and operatic fields.
Having recently conducted Vincenzo Bellini’s monumental opera Norma, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch remarked: “Darwin had the orchestra sounding great from the first measures of the overture and maintained a good balance between stage and pit. He has a fine feel for the nuances of the bel canto style, and knows to breathe with the singers”.
A sought-after guest conductor known for his “moving, absorbing and robust performances”, Darwin enjoys regular engagements around the world, including the Philharmonishes Staatsorchester Mainz, Saarländisches Staatsorchester in Germany, The Cleveland Opera, National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, ADCA Symphony Orchestra in New York, National Symphony Orchestra of Panama, Palm Beach Symphony Orchestra, Filarmónica Boca del Rio in Mexico, Ashland Symphony Orchestra in Ohio, Alfredo Saint Malo Festival Orchestra, FIU Symphony Orchestra in Miami, and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, among others. Aquino was also selected as Music Director by the world acclaimed Italian tenors Il Volo, for concert tours in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
An opera conductor regarded for his “passionate and precise baton”, Darwin has received outstanding reviews and public praise for his interpretations of Verdi’s Il Trovatore, Bizet’s Carmen, Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Menotti’s The Medium, Donizetti’s Elisir D’Amore and Bizet’s Pearl Fishers. He served as the first Latin American Music Director for Winter Opera St. Louis, from 2016 to 2019. Early in his career was appointed Cover Conductor at the Florida Grand Opera (Don Pasquale, Carmen, Norma, Barber of Seville), Opera Naples (La Boheme), and the Florida International University Symphony Orchestra. He conducted the Dominican premiere of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 with the Música Sacra Philharmonic to great acclaim and received the prestigious Premio Soberano as Successful Dominican Artist Abroad.
As a passionate advocate of social change through classical music, Darwin worked closely for many years with Gustavo Dudamel in Venezuela and previously held posts as Artistic Director of El Sistema, Director of the National Conservatory of Music and Music Director of the National Youth Symphony Orchestra, in his homeland the Dominican Republic. Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu, founder of the world-known Venezuelan Sistema, referred to Darwin as “a great conductor, excellent composer and eminent violinist. A pioneer for classical music”. Darwin was awarded for his service to the youth with the Hildegard Behrens Young Artist Prize and the Arts Advocacy Award, both in the United States.
Currently, he serves as Music Director for the Música Sacra concert series in Santo Domingo, Music Director of the Gateway Festival Orchestra, Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Missouri St. Louis, Conductor-in-Residence for the Washington University Symphony Orchestra, Cover Conductor for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and St. Louis Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Darwin’s principal teachers were Grzegorz Nowak and Ramon Tebar, with additional studies and masterclasses from Benjamin Zander, Colin Metters, Jose Serebrier, Carlos Miguel Prieto and James Judd. He holds a Master’s in Music in Orchestral Conducting from the Florida International University, where he received the Graduate Performer Award for his conducting of E. Chabrier opera L’Etoile.