Dominican conductor and composer, Darwin Aquino appears internationally and is regarded as among the most accomplished Latin American 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”.
For the 2020-21 season, Darwin has been appointed as the new Music Director of the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra and selected as conductor finalist for the Music Director position with the Ashland Symphony Orchestra, in Ohio. Currently, he serves as Music Director for the Música Sacra concert series in Santo Domingo, Music Director of the Gateway Festival Orchestra, Conductor-in-Residence for the Washington University Symphony Orchestra and Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Missouri St. Louis.
A sought-after conductor known for his “moving, absorbing and robust performances”, Darwin enjoys regular engagements around the world, including the Philharmonishes Staatsorchester Mainz in Germany, Saarländisches Staatsorchester in Germany, National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, ADCA Symphony Orchestra in New York, Filarmónica Boca del Rio in Mexico, Palm Beach Symphony Orchestra, Alfredo Saint Malo Festival Orchestra in Panama, 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, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, Donizetti’s Elisir D’Amore, Bizet’s Pearl Fishers, Menotti’s The Medium, among many others. He served as Music Director for Winter Opera St. Louis for the 2017-2019 seasons. Early in his career was appointed Cover Conductor at the Florida Grand Opera (Don Pasquale, Carmen, Norma, Barber of Seville), Opera Naples (La Boheme), the Palm Beach Symphony Orchestra and the Florida International University Symphony Orchestra. Recently, the Florida Grand Opera commissioned Darwin to translate into Spanish the Italian comic opera Il Matrimonio Segreto by Domenico Cimarosa, for their upcoming 2021 premier.
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.
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.