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Our Conductor

Darwin Aquino


Dominican conductor and composer seen internationally as one of the top rising Latin American artists in both symphonic and opera fields. For the 2018-2019 season he continues as Music Director for Winter Opera St. Louis (G. Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, V. Bellini’s Norma), Music Director for the Música Sacra concert series in Santo Domingo, Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Missouri and Conductor-in-Residence for the Washington University Symphony Orchestra. Aquino has also been recently selected as Music Director for the Gateway Festival Orchestra, starting in July 2019.

A well-traveled guest conductor, Aquino constantly enjoys engagements around the world. Recent appearances include the 2018 New Year’s concert with the Philharmonishes Staatsorchester Mainz in Germany, Fiesta Latina concert with the Saarländisches Staatsorchester in Germany, the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, Camerata Washington Heights in New York, Alfredo Saint Malo Festival Orchestra in Panama, FIU Opera Theater in Miami, Filarmónica Boca del Rio in Mexico, Youth Orchestra of the Americas, Festival Sembrando Talentos in Uruguay, among others. Aquino was selected as Music Director by the world acclaimed Italian tenors Il Volo for concert tours in the Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

A passionate opera conductor as well, Aquino has received outstanding reviews and public praise in his tenure at Winter Opera St. Louis for Verdi’s Il Trovatore, Bizet’s Carmen, Donizetti’s Elisir D’Amore and Bizet’s Pearl Fishers. Early in his career, he was appointed Assistant Conductor for 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. In 2011 he conducted the Dominican premiere of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 with the Música Sacra Philharmonic to great acclaim and in 2016 received the prestigious Premio Soberano as Successful Dominican Artist Abroad.

Deeply interested in music education and social transformation through classical music, Aquino previously held posts as Director of the National Conservatory of Music, Music Director of the National Youth Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director of “El Sistema”, in his homeland the Dominican Republic. Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu, founder of the world-known Venezuelan Sistema, referred to Aquino as “a great conductor, excellent composer and eminent violinist. A pioneer for classical music”. He 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.

Aquino’s principal teachers were Grzegorz Nowak and Ramon Tebar, with additional studies and masterclasses from Colin Metters, Benjamin Zander, 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.


“My music emerges from the heart of Caribbean rhythms and chants. We are a creative mixture of cultures – an explosion of sounds, colors, and imagination. It has always been my universe, my poetic vision of the world.”

For the 2018-2019 season Dominican acclaimed composer Darwin Aquino is celebrating four new commissions of world premieres by the Florida International University Orchestra (Violin Concerto), Chamber Project St. Louis (Chamber piece for 6 instruments) and Women Hope Chorale (Chorus, Piano and Percussion).

Aquino’s most celebrated orchestral composition Espacio Ritual had its European premiere by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France during the 2015 Festival Presences, resulting in remarkable appraisal 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”. Other orchestral works have been performed by international ensembles such as Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Mainz Philharmonic Orchestra, Saarländisches Staatsorchester, Youth Orchestra of the Americas, Santo Domingo Music Festival Orchestra, Filarmónica Boca del Rio in Mexico, Dominican National Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony of El Salvador.

The Latin American Collegium of Composers joined Aquino as their youngest member for his outstanding achievements in composition. In 2015 was invited to Cuba as one of the judges for the top Composition Prize Casa de las Americas. A frequently performed composer worldwide, his chamber music has been selected for the New Music ISCM in Miami, Latin American Music Festival in Venezuela, SMASH Salamanca in Spain, Las Americas in Concert at the Mannes College of Music in New York, International Forum of New Music in Mexico, Universidad de Costa Rica and North South Consonance in New York, among others.

Aquino studied composition at the Conservatoire National du Strasbourg in France with Italian maestro Ivan Fedele and served as composer in residence for the National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic. During his career he has received the Musici Mojanesi Composition Prize in Italy, three National Composition Prizes and two Academic Composition Prizes in the Dominican Republic.