An artistic force in the broadest and most creative sense of the word, Darin Atwater’s career has encompassed the roles of composer, conductor, pianist, record producer, artist, arranger, vocalist, entrepreneur, educator and arts advocate. As a master inventor of musical hybrids, he has blended American pop, soul, hip-hop, jazz, classical, gospel music into many dazzling fusions, traversing virtually every medium, including records, live performance, radio and television.
Born in Washington DC, 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 National Cathedral 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, Memphis Brass and the Columbus Symphony. Mr. Atwater appears regularly with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis as both Guest Conductor and Composer. Mr. Atwater served as Composer-in-Residence with the Baltimore Symphony. 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.
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 entered into a historic partnership with Broadway Across America. Soulful Symphony delivered four sold-out performances at the Hippodrome Theatre during the 2011/2012 Season. 2013/14 Mr. Atwater returns along with composing and producing a PBS special as a follow up to the Emmy Award winning “Song in a Strange Land” currently airing nationally on PBS.
Pursuing his goal of transforming the symphony in bold and innovative ways for modern culture, Mr. Atwater has created iSymphonies! iSymphonies bridges the gap that exist between high art and pop culture. Mr. Atwater ambitiously composes iSymphonies for every imaginable musical genre, fuses modern American music and A-List artists with the symphony, vocals, film, fashion and technology into an enormous spectacle of highly emotional artistry. Game Changer!
The critics’ praise has been unanimous: The New York Times described him as 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 has created a musical antidote for the malaise gripping classical music and is a unifying vessel for a dozen or so genres of music in the commercial and art realms” The Washington Post adds, ” From the first few chords, his music sets itself apart, emotional and riveting.”
Among his many honors and accolades, NBC named him in The Grio 100 along with Oprah Winfrey, 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 given the 2008 Legends and Pioneers Award by the Afro American Newspaper and the 2009 Vision Award from Maryland Public Television. In 2013 he will be profiled on an ABC special for Entertainment Studios “We are the Dream” following President Obama, Will Smith and the late Ted Kennedy.
Season 2015/16 will find Darin Atwater and Soulful Symphony celebrating 15 years with performances and residencies in major cities throughout the United States ending with a major role as the “house band” for the opening of the Smithsonian’s National African American Museum of History and Culture. Along with two Film Scores, Mr. Atwater recently signed with Mack Avenue Records and is busy recording and producing “Stone Tablets’ for a 2016 release.