Darin Atwater, guest composer
Darin Atwater – critically acclaimed composer, conductor, pianist, producer, entrepreneur, educator and arts advocate - has been a major force in music for three decades.
Born in Washington D.C, Mr. Atwater made his debut as both composer and pianist in May 1995 with the National Symphony Orchestra performing his Piano Concerto. The following year the NSO and the National Cathedral Choral Arts Society premiered his Proclamations. In 1997 he accompanied Kathleen Battle and the NSO for the re-opening of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall along with a performance that summer with Jennifer Holiday and the NSO for the PBS national broadcast of “A Capitol Fourth.” As guest conductor, he has appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, the Dallas Symphony and Columbus Symphony. Atwater appeared regularly with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis as conductor and composer. His work “Day of Affirmation” was commissioned for the opening of Rose Theatre, the home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. From 2004–2007 Atwater served as Composer-in-Residence with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. This collaboration produced many evening-length works that have become staples in the repertoire. In February 2017, Atwater returned to the Kennedy Center to lead the NSO in An Evening with Ledisi, In 2018, Atwater was commissioned by the Mann Center and the Philadelphia Orchestra to compose “South Side, Symphonic Dances” - an adaptation of “West Side Story” for the Leonard Bernstein Centennial.
Mr. Atwater was presented annually as solo artist for the Smithsonian Museum of American Art’s Steinway Series, and was vocalist, pianist and arranger with the U.S. Air Force Band for America’s Veterans; A Musical Salute on PBS. Atwater also performed a solo piano recital for the grand opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; the first artist to perform in the museum’s Oprah Winfrey Theatre.
He’s recorded, orchestrated and conducted for many well-known artists - Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, Shirley Caesar to Faith Evans, Ruben Studdard, Keyon Harrold and The Baylor Project. His long-time collaboration with Richard Smallwood has become a benchmark in Gospel music.
Mr. Atwater is Founder and Artistic Director of Soulful Symphony. After 10 wildly successful seasons of sell-out performances in a joint venture with the Baltimore Symphony, Soulful Symphony entered into a historic partnership with Broadway Across America. Soulful Symphony delivered another 3 seasons of sold-out performances at the Hippodrome Theatre before a triumphant return to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to celebrate 15 years—taking an entire culture and setting it to music. The 2009 Emmy Award-winning “Soulful Symphony with Darin Atwater” was one of the longest running pledge specials for MPT/PBS.
In April 2019, Soulful Symphony became Merriweather Post Pavilion’s first resident symphony. Atwater is currently Artistic Director for The Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, a non-profit organization that oversees one of the most recognized amphitheaters in the world, Merriweather Post Pavilion, and works to expand the artistic and cultural activities around the famed amphitheater.
As a spokesman on the arts, culture and music education, Atwater served on the board of Maryland Citizens for the Arts, testified before the House and Senate for state and national funding, and lectured and spoken to countless schools. Atwater’s many honors and recognitions include, The Grio 100: History Makers in the Making, Ebony Magazine‘s “30 Leaders of the Future,” and the Baltimore Business Journal included him on their exclusive “40 under 40” list. Atwater also received The Prestige Award by the State of Maryland for individuals who bring prominence to the region along with the Legends and Pioneers Award by The Afro-American newspaper, and The Vision Award from Maryland Public Television. Atwater was also profiled on the ABC MLK special, We Are the Dream.