George Darden, piano

George Darden made his solo piano debut with the Savannah Symphony in 1963 and after 21 years with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, where he served as assistant conductor, pianist and coach, he retired in 2006. Prior to his work with the MET, Darden was associated with the Houston Grand Opera, Texas Opera Theatre, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Michigan Opera Theatre, New Orleans Opera, Greater Miami Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Company of Boston, Augusta Opera, Baltimore Opera, Nevada Opera Company and in Spain at Valencia's Puccini Festival. He has been featured on a number of recordings as well as on radio and television programs around the world. In 2000, Darden was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest civilian award for lifetime achievement and service.

Mr. Darden worked closely with the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and also with the MET Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. In 2001 he began an association with the International Vocal Institute in Moscow and returns each year to work with the young singers in the program, ending with a gala recital in such prestigious auditoriums in Moscow as the Glinka State Central Museum, the Sviatoslav Richter State Museum, and the well-known Gnessin State Institute.

Mr. Darden taught on the faculties of the University of Houston School of Music, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and the Israel Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv. In recent years he conducted residencies for the Apprentice Program at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville School of Music, the Merola Opera Program, and the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute of the North Carolina School of the Arts. He died in 2014 at the age of 70.