Conductor

Biography

Dominican conductor and composer Darwin Aquino continues to raise international attention and to inspire audiences and artists all around the world with his charismatic energy. For the 2021-22 season, Darwin has been appointed as the new Music Director of the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra, selected as conductor finalist for the Music Director position with the Ashland Symphony Orchestra, in Ohio, and as Assistant Conductor for Opera Theater of St. Louis.

As guest conductor and composer, he has been invited to join the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, the Juilliard School in NYC, the Caribbean Lyric Festival, the Missouri River Arts Festival, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Heredia in Costa Rica, the Illinois Modern Ensemble, Chamber Project St. Louis, and the Latin American Music Festival in Venezuela.

Recently, Florida Grand Opera commissioned Darwin to translate into Spanish the Italian comic opera Il Matrimonio Segreto by Domenico Cimarosa, for their upcoming 2022-23 premier.  Having recently conducted Vincenzo Bellini’s monumental opera Norma with Winter Opera STL, 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 conductor known for his “moving, absorbing and robust performances”, Darwin has enjoyed regular engagements around the world, including the Philharmonishes Staatsorchester Mainz, 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 Orchestra of the Americas (OA), among others.

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, Chabrier’s L’Etoile, among many others. He has served as the first Latin Music Director for Winter Opera St. Louis, Masterclass Coach for the Chicago Summer Opera and Guest Conductor for The Cleveland Opera. Early in his career Darwin was appointed Assistant Conductor at the Florida Grand Opera (Don Pasquale, Carmen, Norma, Barber of Seville) and Opera Naples (La Boheme).

As a composer, Darwin’s most celebrated orchestral composition, Espacio Ritual, had its European premiere by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France during the Festival Presences, resulting in glowing praise from La Musique au Jour le Jour: “Aquino has very well listened to the French composers, Boulez or Varese, developing in this piece a deeply personal language and an inventive mastery for writing to the orchestra”.

The Latin American Collegium of Composers invited Aquino as their youngest member for his outstanding achievements in composition. In the last couple of years, his new music has had exceptional recognition alongside many commissions and world premieres by: the Florida International University (Concerto for violin, strings & percussion), Ashland Symphony Orchestra (Lunga Pandemia), Chamber Project St. Louis (Redescubrimiento for 6 instruments), University of Michigan’s percussion studio (Aee Mama Si Ee), Women Hope Chorale (La Vida es Bella for female chorus, piano, violoncello and percussion), and the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra (Riccardo Variations).

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”.

Currently, he also serves as Conductor-in-Residence at Washington University and Music Director of the Gateway Festival Orchestra. In his home country, he has been the Music Director for the Música Sacra concert series since 2011. Recently, he was selected by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as Cover Conductor for maestro Leonard Slatkin.

Darwin’s principal conducting 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. Aquino holds a Master’s in Music in Orchestral Conducting from the Florida International University, where he was the winner of the Graduate Music Award for his conducting of E. Chabrier’s opera L’Etoile.

Darwin Aquino

Darwin Aquino es reconocido internacionalmente como uno de los directores y compositores caribeños de mayor proyección, siendo seleccionado recientemente como el nuevo Director Musical de St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra, Director Finalista de Ashland Symphony Orchestra en Ohio y Finalista en la Erno Lanyi International Conducting Competition, en Serbia.

En el mundo lirico, Florida Grand Opera le comisiono la traducción completa al español de la opera bufa Italiana “Il Matrimonio Segreto” de Domenico Cimarosa, que se estrenara en Abril 2022 en la ciudad de Miami.

Actualmente, ocupa también la posición de Director Musical de Gateway Festival Orchestra, Conductor-in-Residence de Washington University Symphony Orchestra y Director of Orchestral Studies en University of Missouri St. Louis. Ha sido elegido al mismo tiempo como Cover Conductor de St. Louis Symphony Orchestra y St. Louis Youth Symphony Orchestra, trabajando junto a directores de fama mundial como el maestro Leonard Slatkin, Stephane Deneve y Gemma New.

En los últimos años se desempeño como DirectorMusical de Winter Opera St. Louis (2016-2019), recibiendo excelentes criticas por las operas Norma, L’ElisirD’Amore, Carmen, L’Italiana in Algeria, Les Pecheurs des Perles, IlTrovatore.Ha sido director invitado de la PhilharmonischesStaatsorchesterMainz y SaarländischesStaatsorchesteren Alemania; así como de la ADCA SymphonyOrchestra de New York. En Latinoamérica, se presento como director de los mundialmente aclamados tres tenores “IlVolo” (México, Republica Dominicana) y dirigió la Orquesta del Festival Alfredo de Saint Malo en Panamá.

Darwin recibió en el 2016 el aclamado Premio Soberano como “Artista Destacado en el Extranjero”. Su brillante carrera lo ha llevado a dirigir paraThe Cleveland Opera (Porgy and Bess), Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica, TheOrchestra of the Américas, Palm Beach SymphonyOrchestra, Filarmónica Boca del Rio en México, FIU SymphonyOrchestra, Orquesta del Festival Sembrando Talentos de Uruguay, Harvard University, Chamber Project St. Louis, UMSL Opera Theater, entre otras. Desde el 2011 es director musical de la serie de conciertos Música Sacra, celebrada anualmente en la Catedral de Santo Domingo.

Como compositor, recientes estrenos mundiales de sus obras han sido comisionadas porUniversity of Michigan (“Aee Mama Si ee” para percusión sola) Chamber Project St. Louis (“Redescubrimiento: A Dominican in St. Louis” para flauta, fagot, violín, viola, cello y contrabajo), FlUSymphonyOrchestra(“Concierto para Violín, Cuerdas y Percusión”), Women Hope Chorale(“La Vida es Bella” para coro femenino, violoncello, piano y percusión) y FZN Orchestra (“Caribe 102” para cuerdas y percusión). El Colegio Latinoamericano de Compositores de Música de Arte y el Foro de Compositores del Caribe seleccionaron en el 2011 a Aquino como su miembro mas joven, por sus logros en la composición. Recientemente, la editora CayambisMusicPress en los Estados Unidos ha realizado las primeras publicaciones de su música orquestal y de cámara, para distribución mundial.

Sus obras han sido ganadoras de tres Premios Nacionales de Música y dos Premios de Composición Académica en la Republica Dominicana. Sus composiciones sinfónicas han sido estrenadas en los últimos años por la OrchestrePhilharmonique de Radio France, la Orquesta Sinfónica de la Juventud Venezolana Simón Bolívar, la Orquesta del Festival Musical de Santo Domingo, la Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de la Republica Dominicana, la Filarmónica Música Sacra, la Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de El Salvador, entre otras. Su obra “La Nuit des Sens” para violín, cello y piano obtuvo el Premio de Composición Musici Mojanesi en Italia en el 2009, siendo publicada por ARS Publica.

El Maestro José Antonio Abreu, fundador del mundialmente reconocido “Sistema” venezolano, se refirió a Aquino como “un gran director, excelente compositor y eminente violinista. Un pionero para la juventud musical en Latinoamérica”. En su país la Republica Dominicana, fue director (2004-2016) del Sistema de Orquestas Dominicano, la Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional Juvenil, el Conservatorio Nacional de Música y la Orquesta Sinfónica Juan Pablo Duarte.