The first Black titled conductor in the NAC Orchestra’s history, Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, will début in his role with the launch of Reggae Roots, featuring reggae royalty Jah’Mila and Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra.

February 23, 2022 – Ottawa — Orchestral Conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser joins the National Arts Centre Orchestra as Principal Youth Conductor and Creative Partner for a three-year mandate beginning this month. In the first major initiative of his mandate, Bartholomew-Poyser will be directing Reggae Roots, an upcoming video-on-demand learning series and a concert that will be part of the NAC Orchestra's 2022-2023 Pops Series.

“Daniel is a wonderfully engaging, passionate and dedicated ambassador for all that is vibrant about symphonic music. He brings his great talent and experience to bear in conceiving and leading projects that use the orchestra and its stages to connect with listeners from all walks of life. His personal warmth and charm lift those projects, the people he works with and the audiences that he communicates with. It will be a thrill for us all to work alongside him. Welcome Daniel!”, said Alexander Shelley, NACO Music Director.


Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser is a familiar name with the NAC Orchestra and its musicians. Daniel has collaborated with the NAC Orchestra and the National Creation Fund on various projects in the past. Last fall, he conducted the Orchestra for the televised national broadcast of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards on CBC/Radio-Canada. He currently sits on the NAC’s National Creation Fund Curatorial Team for projects with orchestral elements.

For his upcoming three-year mandate with the NAC Orchestra, Daniel will work closely with the National Arts Centre Learning and Engagement team to develop the Orchestra’s Family Adventures with the NAC Orchestra concerts and Students Matinees. He will also be engaged with the local arts education community, including orientation sessions with school teachers, community and school visits, and adult learning programs. Additionally, he will work closely with the artistic planning team of the NAC Orchestra on a range of special projects.

"I am extremely excited to work with the wonderful team at the National Arts Centre Orchestra! Over the past years we have created programs and concerts with innovative forms and challenging content. I look forward to working with the musicians of the National Arts Centre Orchestra and to spearheading new projects that create meaningful and engaging experiences for the youth and adults of the National Capital Region.”, said Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser.

A passionate communicator, Daniel brings clarity and meaning to the concert hall, fostering deep connections between audiences and performers. Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser is concurrently the Barrett Principal Education Conductor and Community Ambassador of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Artist in Residence and Community Ambassador of Symphony Nova Scotia. He served as Assistant Conductor of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and Associate Conductor of the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. Daniel served with the Washington National Opera as cover conductor in 2020 and was recently named Resident Conductor of Engagement and Education of the San Francisco Symphony.


Under the baton of Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser conducting the NAC Orchestra, the video series will feature Jamaican-born, Halifax-based reggae singer, Jah’Mila. Reggae Roots brings to life the sounds and stories of the musical movement that grew to influence music around the globe. The series will be available to schools for free on the Arts Alive website and will be expanded for the NAC Orchestra’s Pops Series in the 2022-2023 season.

“Music has an overwhelming impact on children! It has the ability to empower and develop them - creatively, mentally and emotionally,” said Jah’Mila. “It is this potential impact that makes me so deeply grateful and consider myself blessed to be able to share my culture and my musical experiences through this Reggae Roots educational program. Working on this project with Daniel, the NAC team and its affiliates was an 'irie' experience that I hope will emanate through the classroom experience!”

Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser’s desire to marry reggae music classics to orchestra sound inspired him to approach the NAC Orchestra to commission orchestral arrangements in the hopes of bringing this important music to orchestras all over the world.

“I am eager for young people all over Canada to engage with reggae, listen to reggae, and enjoy reggae. I'm thrilled that they will be able to explore this rich musical style with the sounds of the orchestra. Together, with the reggae artist Jah'Mila, we are proud to have put together a program that will reach so many young people with a musical style they love and to which they can relate.", said Bartholomew-Poyser, Principal Youth Conductor and Creative Partner.


Learning and Engagement at Canada’s National Arts Centre is made possible through the support of many generous individuals and organizations from across the country. The Music Alive Program is made possible thanks to the leadership support of National Partner, The Azrieli Foundation, and Major Supporter, The Slaight Family Foundation. Thank you also to Grant and Alice Burton, VIA Rail, Canada Life, A Donor-Advised Fund at the Community Foundation of Ottawa, Friends of the NAC Orchestra, Donors to the NAC Foundation's Future Fund, The Janice and Earle O’Born Fund for Artistic Excellence, and the donors and sponsors of the NAC’s National Youth and Education Trust, the primary resource for youth and education funding at the National Arts Centre.


Since its debut in 1969, the National Arts Centre (NAC) Orchestra has been praised for the passion and clarity of its performances, its visionary educational programs, and its prominent role in nurturing Canadian creativity. Under the leadership of Music Director Alexander Shelley, the NAC Orchestra reflects the fabric and values of Canada, reaching and representing the diverse communities we live in with daring programming, powerful storytelling, inspiring artistry, and innovative partnerships.

The NAC Orchestra has recorded many of the 80+ new works commissioned since its inception, mostly from Canadian composers, for radio and on over 40 commercial recordings. These include Angela Hewitt’s 2015 JUNO Award-winning album of Mozart Piano Concertos; the groundbreaking Life Reflected, which includes My Name is Amanda Todd by Jocelyn Morlock, winner of the 2018 JUNO for Classical Composition of the Year; from the 2019 JUNO-nominated New Worlds, Ana Sokolović’s Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes, 2019 JUNO Winner for Classical Composition of the Year; the 2020 JUNO-nominated The Bounds of Our Dreams featuring pianist Alain Lefèvre, and Clara - Robert - Johannes: Darlings of the Muses, released in 2020.

The NAC Orchestra reaches a national and international audience through its online streaming, touring, recordings, and leads a significant Music Education and Community Engagement department, whose volume of activities parallels that of its performance and artistic creation activities. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Orchestra adapted NACO at the Fourth, audio and video series (NACO Home DeliveryNACO Lunch Breaks, From NACO with Love), and lively online interviews led by Music Director Alexander Shelley (Musically Speaking).


The National Arts Centre launched Arts Alive in August 2021 as a renewed and reinvigorated platform for arts learning, ushering in a new era of engagement in the performing arts. Arts Alive is an invaluable resource for students, schools and educators, families, pre-professional artists and adults, offering innovative programs and engaging arts resources in digital and in-person formats. And with a great deal of free programming, the platform makes learning about the performing arts highly accessible to everyone. Arts Alive features in-person and digital bilingual programming that encompasses and honours a wide range of culturally specific knowledge, languages, territories and experiences, led by a diversity of Canadian and Indigenous teaching artists in music, theatre and dance from across the country.


Now in its fifth year, and fueled entirely by generous donors from across the country, the National Creation Fund invests in the development of compelling and ambitious new Canadian works in theatre, dance, music and inter-disciplinary performing arts.  Since opening in 2017, the Fund has invested almost $10 million in 64 projects led by artists from across the country.  For more information on the National Creation Fund and the projects it supports, visit:


The National Arts Centre is Canada’s bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for the performing arts. The NAC presents, creates, produces, and co-produces performing arts programming in various streams—the NAC Orchestra, Dance, English Theatre in association with Black Theatre Workshop, French Theatre, Indigenous Theatre, and Popular Music and Variety—and nurtures the next generation of audiences and artists from across Canada. The NAC is located in the National Capital Region on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation.