Soulful Symphony conductor reaches students with songs

Darin Atwater, conductor and artistic director of the world renowned Soulful Symphony Orchestra, believes in giving back and teaching history through his music.

He was inspired at an early age.

"My mother was a lover of music and a lover of culture so she exposed me to everything from church music Richard Smallwood, The Hawkins, Cleveland, spirituals to Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington to classics,” Atwater said. “So I think I had a great environment great parents who had a great love for music great, great faith and I had a great outlet in the church."

That outlet and encouragement made him the musical pioneer he's become today.

Atwater, his fellow symphony musicians and the Hippodrome Foundation, have already adopted Lansdowne High School. On Wednesday, he spent a few hours at Landsdowne Middle School reaching deeper still to young children and helping them build a foundation for a greater hope.

"[It’s] When you have that type of hands-on with kids and our culture is hungry for it man,” Atwater said. “Artists, too many times we live in these ivory towers where people can't have access to us and they only hear us through our music or they press play and they hear us but to be able to relate to who we are as people is important"

He takes them back in history through old negro spirituals but is able to teach life values with his music, using the symphony as something to see and relate to but not take for granted.

"Then I thought it was important as African Americans and as people of faith to have something that spoke to that as well that carried on that tradition of the spiritual and the great artists that came before us that weren't able to operate in that vein of acoustic music and symphonic music and art music," Atwater said.

For Atwater, it’s about making sure a good cycle of life doesn’t stop.

"I want them to be great in it I want them just to be a portal for them to take what I've taken and done and take it to the next level," he said.

Atwater founded the Soulful Symphony 14 years ago. The group is composed of mainly African American and Latin American musicians. The music is unique and the genres are varied. 

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