Dominican conductor and composer Darwin Aquino continues to rise international attention and is regarded as among the most accomplished Latinx artists of his generation.
For the 2021-22 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. As guest conductor and composer, he has been invited to join the Missouri River Arts Festival, the Caribbean Lyric Festival, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Heredia in Costa Rica, the Latin American Music Festival in Venezuela, among others.
Lately, the Florida Grand Opera commissioned Darwin to translate into Spanish the Italian comic opera Il Matrimonio Segreto by Domenico Cimarosa, for their upcoming 2022 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 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 for the Washington University and Music Director of the Gateway Festival Orchestra. In his 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.