Classical Hip-Hop Music? BMS Orchestra Students Attend New Haven Symphony Orchestra "Bach to the Future" Performance at Yale University

Students attend a performance of an unusual combination of music styles by violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, that is changing the face of classical music.

Story and Photos by Paula Antolini
View more photos here: picturesbypaula.com

"Amazing," "Wonderful," "Awesome," "Good," "Cool," "Fantastic," "Spectacular," "Magical," "Sophisticated," "Extraordinary," "Great," "Epic," and "Dig it."  These were the words of Bethel Middle School (BMS) 6-7-8th grade orchestra students describing their experience of seeing the performance of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra (NHSO) at Yale University, Woolsey Hall, in New Haven, CT, on April 10, 2013.

The student attended the 81st Young People's Concert named "Bach to the Future."  These educational concerts are geared to young students and introduce them to musical instruments, genres and composers.

The students were treated to a variety of music styles in the NHSO performance conducted by prestigious NHSO Musical Director William Boughton, and featuring violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain (see program below).

William Boughton is the 10th Music Director of the NHSO and came to the NHSO in 2007. He has a reputation as one of the foremost English conductors of his generation.

Daniel Bernard Roumain (known as DBR), an African American violinist, composer, musician, performer, recording artist, educator, lecturer, and record company founder.  He combines classically influenced pieces with musical genres such as jazz, rock, electronica, and especially hip-hop. Roumain writes for orchestra, chamber orchestra, string quartet, solo instrument, voice and rock band.

In a most unique style of music, soloist Roumain combined more modern tunes with classical, to show students the variety of sounds from a violin and also how similar the two types of music are. The orchestra played classical pieces after Roumian played a popular piece with the same style. He used a variety of sounds as an audience participation method, such as spoken dialogue and clapping beats, and students immediately became mesmerized by the musical performance.


The students entered Woolsey Hall through the Memorial Rotunda, a circular building with a domed roof. Woolsey Hall is the primary Yale University auditorium that seats 2,695 people. This hall is the main performance venue for the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and other musical groups. It was built between 1901-1902 and designed by Carrere and Hastings, also designers of the New York Public Library. Woolsey Hall contains the Newberry Memorial Organ, honoring John Stoughton Newberry of Detroit and given by his family who also provided for subsequent rebuilding in 1916 and 1929.

Woolsey Hall sits on the Hewitt Quadrangle, a plaza at the center of Yale University containing the Bicentennial Buildings (University Commons, Woolsey Hall, and the Memorial Rotunda). Woolsey Hall's murals represent the ideal of a classical education and include images on the nine muses and the goddess Athena. 

After the performance students ate in the Yale University Dining Hall (The Commons) which was no ordinary "lunch room." The architecture of Commons has elaborate carved wooden walls with brick above, enormous vaulted and beamed ceilings, mission style long wooden tables and chairs, and huge ornate chandeliers.

The class trip was arranged by BMS music teacher Mr. Richard Baumer, who was recently voted "Teacher of the Year."


Bach to the Future

Featuring Daniel Bernard Roumain, composer & violinist.

Daniel Bernard ROUMAIN

Voodoo Violin Concerto, No. 1 - I. Filter

Johann Sebastian BACH

Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048 - III. Allegro

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART

Overture from The Marriage of Figaro, K.492

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN

Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 - I. Allegro con brio

Johannes BRAHMS

Hungarian Dance No. 1

Tania LEÓN

Indigena (excerpt)


Fast Black Dance Machine - I. Fast


Voodoo Violin Concerto, No. 1 - IV. Tribe


About Daniel Bernard Roumain
Born in 1971 in Skokie, IL, he is the son of Haitian immigrants. He began playing the violin at age 5 and studied under the guidance of band leader Mitch Miller. He attended Dillard High School for the Performing Arts in Sunrise, Florida, and performed in the high school jazz orchestra and he backed musicians Dizzy Gillespie and Ray Charles. He attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he was awarded a full scholarship and graduated with honors in 1993 then earned master's and doctoral degrees in music composition from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and eventually settled in Harlem, a place that influenced his music. Roumain draws on African American subjects and themes for his works. Romain worked as a rehearsal pianist for dance companies, such as the Juilliard School, Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Center (now the Ailey School). Romain has won numerous awards throughout his musical career and in 1999 set a precedent becoming the first artist to perform hip-hop in the prestigious venue of Carnegie Hall.

VIEW VIDEO: Daniel Bernard Roumain music from new album "Woodbox Beats & Balladry. 

VIEW VIDEO: Daniel Bernard Roumain "Symphony for the Dance Floor."

About The New Haven Symphony Orchestra

"Through its live performances of classical music and education programs, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra aspires to exceed expectations, unite communities, challenge, delight, and inspire. We change lives, for the better.
The Vision of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra is to celebrate our classical music heritage, enriched through new American compositions, by expanding opportunities for symphonic performances and music education.
We will celebrate this Vision through:
1. Live performances centered on symphony and pops concerts, supplemented by chamber and ensemble performances by orchestra members and guest artists;2. Promotion of new works by American composers-in-residence and composers well-versed in Asian, African and Latin traditions, including performances of their works;
3. Support of youth and community orchestras and classical music education;
4. Performances for children and families that introduce the classical music heritage and the major forms of its presentation; and
5. Social networks and other media that enhance accessibility to classical music and its interpretation."

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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