Biography

Darwin Aquino

UIA Talent AgencyKnown for his charismatic energy and musical versatility, Dominican conductor and composer Darwin Aquino has built a fast-rising career across the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Recognized for his smart and stylish conducting, Darwin regularly leads critically acclaimed performances of symphonic music, opera, operetta, ballet, new music, choral works, and Latin American music, worldwide.

Recently appointed Conductor for the New Works Collective with Opera Theater of Saint Louis, where he led its first six world premieres to great success and earned a reputation for being a champion of new music. Currently in his fourth season as Artistic & Music Director of the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra, where “Aquino has done yeoman’s work to highlight the contributions of Latin American composers, to the delight of the St. Louis community and beyond” (KDHX), and his seventh season as Conductor-in-Residence for the Washington University Symphony Orchestra.

The 23/24 season will see Darwin’s debut with the National Symphony Orchestra of Panama at the Alfredo De Saint Malo Festival and engagements as a guest conductor with the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the St. Louis Ballet, the World Chess Hall of Fame and the Chamber Music Society. He will also join Opera Theater of Saint Louis, collaborating on productions of Il barbiere di Siviglia, Giulio Cesare and Center Stage.

Last season, he was invited to conduct the premiere of D. Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto, in his own Spanish translation, for the Florida Grand Opera. About Matrimonio, the South Florida Classical Review wrote: “Darwin Aquino, a former FGO Assistant Conductor, led a lively, fast-paced reading of Cimarosa’s elegant work. Aquino’s Spanish libretto works remarkably well with Cimarosa’s bubbly score. Many Spanish-speaking members of the audience found the adaptation amusing and entertaining”.

The past several seasons have seen Darwin as a guest conductor for the Philharmonishes Staatsorchester Mainz and Saarländisches Staatsorchester, in Germany, where he led special New Years concerts and sold out performances of Latin American symphonic music, including his own orchestral works (YOAminicana & Congofonía). Other recent notable engagements include the Missouri Symphony Orchestra (MISO), The Cleveland Opera (Porgy and Bess), the Ashland Symphony Orchestra in Ohio (where he conducted the world premiere of his orchestral piece Lunga Pandemia), the Caribbean Lyric Festival, National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, Chicago Summer Opera, Filarmónica Boca del Rio in Mexico, the Illinois Modern Ensemble at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Orchestra of the Americas, Alfredo de Saint Malo Festival in Panama, Chamber Project St. Louis, the Young Composer Competition at Webster University, and the Missouri Festival for the Arts.

Darwin was the first conductor to be appointed Music Director for Winter Opera St. Louis, where he worked extensively to amplify the recognition of the company as one of the most noted and important performing arts organizations in the Midwest. There, he conducted Carmen, Il Trovatore, Les Pecheurs des Perles, L’elisir d’amore, L’Italiana in Algeria and Norma. Of his performance of Norma, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch remarked: “Conductor Darwin Aquino 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”. He was also selected as the first Latin American conductor for the Music Director position with the Gateway Festival Orchestra, where he developed unique programs for Young People’s Concerts and additional outreach activities.

As an advocate for music education, Darwin has worked with numerous universities’s opera programs and orchestras, inspiring the next generation of musicians with his dynamic leadership. Highlights are E. Chabrier’s L’Etoile with the Florida International University in Miami; G. Menotti’s The Medium, L. Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Leanna Kirchoff’s The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret (National Opera Association winner) with the University of Missouri St. Louis, and performances of C. Orff’s Carmina Burana and M. Haydn’s Te Deum, with the Washington University Symphony Orchestra and Choirs. In his country, the Dominican Republic, he served for more than 15 years as the Artistic & Music Director of El Sistema, Director of the National Conservatory of Music, and Composer in Residence and Violinist for the Dominican National Symphony Orchestra.

Darwin previously served as Assistant Conductor for Opera Theater of Saint Louis (Awakenings, Harvey Milk, Treemonisha, Cosí Fan Tutte, The Magic Flute), the Florida Grand Opera (Carmen, Don Pasquale, Norma, Barber of Seville), and Opera Naples (La Boheme). In the symphonic world, he was selected as Assistant Conductor for the Palm Beach Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Americas, and Cover Conductor for both the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO), and the St. Louis Youth Symphony Orchestra.

He has assisted Leonard Slatkin, Patrick Summers, George Manahan, Gemma New, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Benjamin Zander, Daniela Candillari, Ramon Tebar, Rory McDonald, among others. A graduate of the Florida International University (FIU), Miami, from which he received a Master of Music in orchestral conducting, studying with Gzregorz Nowak, and the Graduate Award Diploma, by unanimous vote of the faculty.

Check out some recent news about Darwin!: https://darwinaquino.com/category/news/.