Darin Atwater has earned a distinguished international reputation as Artistic Director, Pianist, Composer, Conductor and Cultural Advocate for the Arts all while single-handedly redefining what has remained a quintessentially European art form: the symphony orchestra. He has been influenced by diverse musical styles and has fused and sculpted these influences into a truly American sound.
Mr. Atwater made his orchestral debut as both composer and pianist in May 1995 with the National Symphony Orchestra with his Piano Concerto. The following year the National Symphony and the Catherdral Choral Arts Society premiered his Proclamations. Engagements with major orchestras, a European tour and world premieres of his numerous compositions followed. As a Guest Conductor he has appeared with the Baltimore Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, and the Columbus Symphony. Mr. Atwater appears regularly with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis as both Guest Conductor and Composer.
In 2000 Mr. Atwater founded Soulful Symphony, an 85 member orchestra with vocals made up of mostly African American and Latino musicians. After 10 wildly successful seasons of sell-out performances in a joint venture with the Baltimore Symphony, Soulful Symphony is now the first resident ensemble at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center where they have entered into a historic partnership with Broadway Across America and the Hippodrome Foundation.
Mr Atwater served as Composer-in-Residence with the Baltimore Symphony from 2004-2007. This collaboration produced many evening length works that have become staples in the repertoire. Among them are, Song in a Strange Land, Evolution of a People, Paint Factory, Southern Folk Sketches and God's Trombones. Season 2012/13 will find three more large scale works written for Soulful Symphony, Ghetto Safari Ballet, The Audacity of Hope based on the book by President Obama which will premiere at Constitution Hall and G.O.A.T an Operetta based on the life of Muhammad Ali.
He is currently pursuing a Los Angeles based entertainment venture which will further his goal of transforming and introducing the Symphony in bold and innovative ways.
The critics' praise has been unanimous: The New York Times described him as a composer with a "muscular imagination." The Baltimore Sun wrote, "Atwater has an uncommon ear for instrumental coloring and the urban beat." The Philadelphia Inquirer writes, "Atwater is a superb orchestrator and a smart curator of sounds and talent." The Washington Post adds, " From the first few chords, the music sets itself apart, emotional and riveting."
Among his many honors and recognitions, NBC named him in The Grio 100 along with Oprah Winfrey, LeBron James and Attorney General Eric Holder among others. Ebony magazine dubbed him one of the “30 Leaders of the Future,” and the Baltimore Business Journal placed him on their exclusive “40 under 40” list. Mr. Atwater was recently given the 2008 Legends and Pioneers Award by The Afro American Newspaper and the 2009 Vision Award from Maryland Public Television. In 2010, Mr. Atwater received an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for his "Song in a Strange Land" currently airing nationally on PBS.