DBR on Musical Diplomacy and Good, Long Hugs

Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR)

Last month we featured an interview with Brian Kaufman and Michael Reichman, founders of Musical Diplomacy, and recipients of From the Top’s Margaret Stewart Lindsay Arts Leadership Award.

On May 14th, they hosted a “Concert and Discussion on Race and Culture in the Age of Obama” which featured Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, the world-premieres of Jason Belcher’s Concerto for Improvisers and Orchestra and Caroline Park’s RADIO, and the Boston-premiere of Emmy-nominated composer and hip-hop classical fusion artist Daniel Bernard Roumain’s Symphony for the Dance Floor.

Why this recap?  Well Daniel Bernard Roumain (aka DBR) was kind enough to share this ‘day in the life’ vlog and reflection with us.


I’m often traveling and touring and like many musicians, I’m often on the move.  It’s important for me to see the world and then, I feel better equipped to comment on what I see.  From the stage, I get a snapshot, a polaroid view of a town, city, or community.  I can hear them, shouting sometimes, laughing at others, the occasional “boo” or “bravo”!  It’s all about voices and opinions, actually, and the courage to express yourself and the humility to let others take the mic.  I think the concert event, MUSICAL DIPLOMACY, is about the artist, an audience, and our world.  The founders/producers Brian Kaufman and Michael Reichman invited me to conduct my latest orchestral work, Symphony for the Dance Floor, and I was honored to share the stage with a large, diverse audience, and an exciting post-concert panel featuring the legendary American composer/conductor, Gunther Schuller.  Boston is a particularly patriotic place, but that night, in the Fenway Center, I felt like I was part of a world community, on a stage and in a sacred space full of thought, sweat, rage, hugs, handshakes—and some good food, too!

The stages of the world, wherever you live and dream, might be the last bastion of democracy—a place where every voice can be heard and our musical diplomacy thrives.  Sometimes, it’s good to stop moving, and just listen to your favorite rock band or string quartet.  Sometimes, it’s good to give someone you love—more than a few words—one good, long hug.


DBR isn’t just an amazing musician – recognizing today’s challenging economic environment, he created New Clef Coalition out of his determination to help youth orchestras not merely survive but thrive. The centerpiece of the coalition is a new 20-minute symphonic work composed by DBR (Symphony for the Dance Floor was written for this project). Partners in the coalition are given commissioning credit and are welcome to feature the new work in their season programming. DBR also visits the participating communities.

On June 20th, DBR will celebrate parenthood at Symphony Hall in Boston by doing a special Father’s Day concert with the Boston Pops!

Interested to hear more? Check out his latest CD.