Darwin Aquino

Washington University Symphony Orchestra
MM Orchestral Conducting, Florida International University
research interests:
  • orchestra
  • opera
  • conducting
  • composition
  • contemporary music
  • strings
  • symphonic music from Latin America
  • folkloric music from the Dominican Republic
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    contact info:

    office hours:

    • By appointment

    mailing address:

    • Washington University
    • CB 1030
    • One Brookings Drive
    • Saint Louis, MO 63130
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    Darwin Aquino conducts the Washington University Symphony Orchestra. 

    Known for his charismatic energy and musical versatility as a conductor, composer and violinist, Darwin Aquino’s career has taken him to orchestra halls and opera theaters across Europe, United States, and Latin America. His constant presence as a Latinx artist on multiple stages is seen as a bright light for diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music.

    Recently appointed Conductor for the New Works Collective with Opera Theater of St. Louis and Music Director of the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra, Darwin’s 23/24 season also includes a number of national and international engagements. He has been selected as guest conductor for the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the St. Louis Ballet (Giselle), and the Chamber Music Society; guest composer for the San Francisco Civic Orchestra (Lunga Pandemia for orchestra) and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Heredia in Costa Rica (Latin American premiere Concerto for Violin, Strings and Percussion).

    During the 22/23 season, Darwin was invited to conduct the premiere of D. Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto for the Florida Grand Opera, in his own Spanish translation. Other recent appearances include guest conductor for the Missouri Symphony Orchestra, the Ashland Symphony Orchestra in Ohio, and the Caribbean Lyric Festival; plus performances of his compositions with the Juilliard School in New York City, the Illinois Modern Ensemble at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the Latin American Music Festival in Venezuela, and the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City. Additionally, he also serves as Music Director of the Gateway Festival Orchestra’s Summer Season.

    Darwin has enjoyed regular engagements around the world, including the Philharmonishes Staatsorchester Mainz, Saarländisches Staatsorchester in Germany, The Cleveland Opera, National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, ADCA Symphony Orchestra in New York, Chicago Summer Opera, Filarmónica Boca del Rio in Mexico, Caribbean Lyric Festival, Missouri Festival for the Arts, Alfredo Saint Malo Festival Orchestra in Panama, FIU Symphony Orchestra in Miami, among others. He has also cover conducted the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Youth Symphony Orchestra, Palm Beach Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Americas (OA).

    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. The Latin American Collegium of Composers invited Aquino as their youngest member for his outstanding achievements in composition. He is a three-time recipient of the National Music Prize in composition in his country, a winner of the Musici Mojanesi composition prize in Italy, and his works have been published by Ars Publica in Europe and Cayambis Music Press in the USA.

    Darwin held the position of Music Director for Winter Opera St. Louis (2016-2019), Director of Orchestral Studies University of Missouri St. Louis (2017-2021), Assistant Conductor Florida Grand Opera (2015-2017), Director National Conservatory of Music Dominican Republic (2016-2017), Assistant Conductor Palm Beach Symphony (2014-1016), Composer in Residence Dominican National Symphony Orchestra (2008-2010), Artistic Director El Sistema DR (2004-2016), and holds a masters of music degree in orchestral conducting from the Florida International University, studying with Gzregorz Nowak.

    Darwin has also received conducting coaching with, notably, Colin Metters, David Effron, Enrique Garcia Asensio, Benjamin Zander, and Ramon Tebar, and has assisted Leonard Slatkin, Patrick Summers, George Manahan, Gemma New, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Benjamin Zander, Daniela Candillari, and Rory McDonald, among others.

    Check out some recent news about Darwin!

    Recent Reviews

    “The music is light and spirited, especially when given such a splendid reading by the Winter Opera orchestra under the smart, stylish conducting of Darwin Aquino, who keeps the tempo brisk and upbeat throughout” - Ladue News, St. Louis

    “As he has in previous Winter Opera productions, Darwin Aquino led the orchestra in an authoritative account of the score. The ensemble always projects a large sound in the acoustics of the Viragh Center” - KDHK Theater Reviews, United States

    “An excellent support and professional sound from the symphony orchestra, conducted by Darwin Aquino” - The Miami Herald, Florida

    “Lyricism of the score emerges with great beauty from the orchestra conducted by Darwin Aquino. As usual the balance between the voices and the orchestra was ideal” - Two on the Aisle, St. Louis

    “Maestro Aquino draws lovely work from his musicians throughout the opera” BWW Opera World, United States

    “It was not a surprise the work of the orchestra conducted by Darwin Aquino, who led Vivaldi without baton, Piazzola with impressive energy and Kuusisto with the concentration that requires such a difficult and strange piece for an audience not familiar with contemporary music” - Diario Libre Newspaper, Dominican Republic

    "The orchestra, under the direction of Darwin Aquino, gives the finest performance I've heard in any of the many productions I've seen at Winter Opera. With the opening phrases of the overture it simply bursts out of the gate. It snatches us up and carries us away like a robber bridegroom whisking his love up onto his galloping steed. The tempo is almost alarming. Such energy! Such excitement! Such precision!" - BWW Opera World, United States

    “These extraordinary concerts had an enormous reception, which has risen the expectations to continuously program this international repertoire with the Mainz Philharmonic Orchestra “ - Mainzer Kultur, Germany

    "Conductor Darwin Aquino kept them and the rest of the cast on track, with brisk tempos. The orchestra and the children’s chorus did solid work" - St. LouisPost – Dispatch, United States

    “Aquino’s conducting was rousing and dominant, carrying Verdi’s rich score in the capable hands of the Winter Opera orchestra” / "Bizet’s music is captivating and enthralling, especially when performed as lushly as it was in Winter Opera’s presentation under the steady influence and keen ear of conductor Darwin Aquino, who kept the orchestra on a high level of performance throughout" - Ladue News, St. Louis

    “The success of the concert rested in the quality of the orchestra under the precise and passionate baton of Darwin Aquino” - HOY Newspaper, Dominican Republic

    Congratulations to Aquino, who brought all this together in a manner to do justice to Verdi” - BWW Opera World, United States

    “Down in the pit, conductor Darwin Aquino leads the orchestra in a very polished interpretation of the score. Without being a large ensemble they produced a satisfyingly robust sound” - Stage Left, United States