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Former Maazel and Ozawa protégé who played in the Met’s Porgy and Bess

Charles Darden, an Afro-American conductor from Texas who enjoyed more success in Europe than in his homeland, has died at the age of 66.

After early apprenticeships at the San Francisco and Cleveland orchestras, he went on to become musical director of the Ballet Rambert in London and a regular conductor at Norwegian Opera. He also played the cameo of Jasbo Brown in the Met’s Porgy and Bess.

Latterly, he was director of the Chorale de Bons Choeur on the Caribbean island of St. Barts and music director of the Anglican Church there.


charles darden


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  1. Charles Darden conducted the Washington Square Music Festival’s chamber orchestra several times with great distinction in the 1980s. Recently he joined us as a pianist. He also was endlessly entertaining as a cabaret singer/pianist, and a charming man of the world. We will miss him.

  2. Constantine Kitsopoulos says:

    I remember meeting Charles Darden in Hong Kong in the 1990s where he had a gig as a pianist in one of the big hotels there. I friend of mine who had served in one of the US military service bands knew he was playing there and suggested that I get in touch with him while I was in HK conducting an opera. Sure enough, I sat with him and he told me his story and I found him to be engaging, warm and forthright. It seemed to be a classic case of not being able to make it as a conductor in the US because of his race, even though his musical pedigree was more than sound. What a week of loss for music…

    Constantine Kitsopoulos

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