I am so proud to welcome composer, violinist, activist, and educator Daniel Bernard Roumain to the podcast this week. When I read last week that the Tulsa Opera made the decision to remove his aria “They Still Want to Kill Us” from the program for their upcoming concert to commemorate the centennial of the Tulsa race massacre, I reached out immediately for an interview. This important conversation about this and his other experiences of racism within the classical music world also gave way to a gorgeous connection the the unmistakable change making power of art. I’m so grateful to share this conversation with you this week!
Daniel Bernard Roumain’s acclaimed work as a composer, performer, educator, and activist spans more than two decades, and he has been commissioned by venerable artists and institutions worldwide. “About as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets” (NYT), DBR is perhaps the only composer whose collaborations span Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones, Savion Glover and Lady Gaga.
Known for his signature violin sounds infused with myriad electronic, urban, and African-American music influences, DBR takes his genre-bending music beyond the proscenium. He is a composer of chamber, orchestral, and operatic works; has won an Emmy for Outstanding Musical Composition for his collaborations with ESPN; featured as keynote performer at technology conferences; and created large scale, site-specific musical events for public spaces. DBR earned his doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Michigan and is currently Institute Professor and Professor of Practice at Arizona State University.
An avid arts industry leader, DBR serves on the board of directors of the League of American Orchestras, Association of Performing Arts Presenters and Creative Capital, the advisory committee of the Sphinx Organization, and was co-chair of 2015 and 2016 APAP Conferences.
Check out the score for “They Still Want to Kill Us” and join in the collaboration right here.
Photo of Daniel Bernard Roumain via Sozo Artists.
Special thanks to Dana at Sozo Artists for assisting in making this interview happen so quickly. I am so grateful for your energy!