Bringing the Power of Reggae Music and More to Students Across the Country

It has been an eventful first season for Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, the National Arts Centre’s Orchestra’s Principal Youth Conductor and Creative Partner, full of wonderful music making and important firsts. In February 2022, Daniel became the first Black titled conductor in the NAC Orchestra’s history.

His desire to marry Reggae music to orchestral sound paved the way for the NAC Orchestra’s Reggae Roots, a free video-on-demand learning series for students across Canada. Featuring Jamaican-born Halifax-based Reggae singer-songwriter Jah’Mila, the series reflects on the historical, social, cultural and spiritual importance of the magical genre that has shaped Jamaica and touched the world.   

 “At a time when Black communities are looking to see themselves represented, this program is evidence that the NAC does, in fact, see them” says Daniel.

In February, Daniel, Jah’Mila and the NAC Orchestra shared the magic of Reggae with youth and their families in Southam Hall. After each performance, audience members flocked to social media to share their experiences. “I can’t express how much joy my friends and I felt last night,” said one. And one parent shared that her 11-year-old proclaimed “We have only been here 10 minutes and this concert is amazing. I guess orchestras are not as boring as I thought!”

On April 22 (Earth Day), Daniel and the NAC Orchestra launched another free online learning series for students, in partnership with several of Canada’s leading orchestras. The Great Canadian Orchestra Field Trip features musicians, activists, and scientists from coast to coast. The series explores how the natural world has inspired work by impassioned artists and how musicians and composers have reflected on the land that is changing beneath their feet.

“The program highlights our current environmental crisis, taking us on a musical journey that introduces us not only to key Canadian figures, but to many Canadian Orchestras along the way,” he says.

Thanks to your generosity, Daniel can spearhead new projects that create meaningful and engaging experiences for youth and adults, here in the Ottawa/Gatineau region and across the country. “Working with the truly incredible National Arts Centre Orchestra is an honour, every single time,” says Daniel. “I am looking forward to many more years of creative firsts as the NAC Orchestra’s Principal Youth Conductor and Creative Partner. Thank you for your support!”

Join more than 6,500 champions of performance, creation and learning by supporting Canadian artists, educators and students through the NAC Foundation.

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