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Founder and Conductor of Berkeley Free Orchestra Charles Darden, 66 Charles Darden, 66




Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Charles Darden in 2011 in St. Barts in the Caribbean French West Indies. He directed the choir at the Anglican Church.

Charles Darden, 66, a music conductor and pianist who worked with the Dance Theater of Harlem and performed frequently in Europe, died Feb.20 at his home in Dublin, California.
Born in Galveston, Texas on Aug. 28, 1946 to Linnie L. Darden, Sr. and Victoria Darden, he attended local schools in Galveston and and Berkeley.
After graduating from from Berkeley High School, he joined the U.S. Army.  He attended  the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
He was the founder and conductor of Berkeley Free Orchestra.
In 1970, Seiji Ozawa appointed him apprentice conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Later, he was twice a conducting fellow at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where he studied with Leonard Bernstein.
In 1975, Lorin Maazel appointed him conducting assistant to the Cleveland Orchestra.
Darden was later appointed musical director of the Ballet Rambert in London and worked with the  Theater of Harlem in New York. He was a frequent guest conductor in Europe, primarily with the Den Norske Opera in Norway.
He was an accomplished pianist and appeared as Jasbo Brown in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess.
Darden was an authority on the life and music of  ragtime composer Scott Joplin. He wrote a one-man show “Great Scott!” on the life of the composer. Darden was director of music for the Anglican Church, and director of La Chorale De Bons Choeurs on the island of St. Barts in the Caribbean French West Indies.
In 1999, he produced “L’Hymne á St. Barthlémy,” the island’s national anthem.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brothers, Jeff Darden, Otis Darden, and Nathaniel Darden.
He is survived by his sisters, Charlene Darden of Las Vegas; Claressa Morrow of Berkeley; Jean Reeves of Dublin, California; Melvin Neeley of Texas City, Texas; and his brothers Linnie L. Darden Jr. of Hinesville, Georgia, and Paul Darden of Portland, Oregon.
A memorial service will be held March 7 at 11 a.m. at Hilltop Community Church, 3118 Shane Drive in Richmond. Flowers or remembrances may be sent to the church. The family will receive friends before and after the service.

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