DUBLIN, Calif. - Charles Darden, 66, passed away Feb. 20, 2013, at his home in Dublin, Calif.
He was born in Galveston, Texas, on Aug. 28, 1946, to the late Linnie L. Darden Sr. and Victoria Darden. He attended local schools in Galveston and Berkeley, Calif. Following his graduation from Berkeley High School, he joined the U.S. Army
He was a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He grew up in California and was the founder and conductor of the Berkeley Free Orchestra. In 1970, Seiji Ozawa appointed him apprentice conductor to 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. He was later appointed musical director of the Ballet Rambert in London and later principal conductor of the Dance Theater of Harlem in New York.
He was a frequent guest conductor in Europe, primarily in Norway, where he was a regular conductor with the Den Norske Opera.
He was an accomplished pianist and appeared as Jasbo Brown in the Metropolitan Opera's production of "Porgy and Bess." Mr. Darden was an authority on the life and music of the ragtime composer Scott Joplin. He wrote the one-man show "Great Scott!" outlining the life of the ragtime composer.
Charles Darden was the 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. Barthlemy, the island's own national anthem.
Mr. Darden divided his time between St. Barts and New York. He appeared as pianist/singer in a number of first class hotels around the world before going to St. Barts. These included the Noga Hilton in Cannes, France, the Renaissance Hotel in Hong Kong, and the Colombo Hilton in Sri Lanka.
Charles was preceded in death by his parents, Linnie and Victoria Darden, 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, Calif., and Melvin Neeley of Texas City, Texas; his brothers, Linnie L. Darden Jr. of Hinesville and Paul Darden of Portland. Ore.; his nephew, attorney Linnie L. Darden III of Hinesville; as well as a host of other nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at Hilltop Community Church in Richmond, Calif., at 11 a.m. March 7. Flowers or remembrances may be sent to the Hilltop Community Church, 3118 Shane Dr., Richmond, CA 94806.
The family will receive friends before and after the service.