US orchestra adds a Resident Artistic Catalyst (what’s that?)

US orchestra adds a Resident Artistic Catalyst (what’s that?)


norman lebrecht

April 29, 2021

Press release:

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra welcomes composer, performer, educator and activist Daniel Bernard Roumain to its artistic leadership team as Resident Artistic Catalyst, a new role that will further the NJSO’s leading commitment to transforming all aspects of the organization to meaningfully increase diversity, equity and inclusion.

An activist? Of course.

Roumain says: “I am excited, honored, humbled and ready to collaborate with the legendary New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, as we move forward together within our work towards change, equity, community and innovation. Working closely with Maestro Xian Zhang (whom I consider a vital mentor and close friend), the staff, board and the exceptional musicians of the orchestra, together we will unlock a world of new ideas and endless possibilities for the communities we will all serve and the continued success of the NJSO organization. Judith Musser is generous and correct, in that, the NJSO is a family, and my role is to earn their trust and respect in all that we do in the office, in the wings, on the stage, and with one another. After months of tragic death, fear and crisis, the NJSO stands committed to life, fearless imagination and the pursuit of our arts, for our community, in our time!”




  • Couperin says:

    DBM has been around a while and has been known to be an arrogant self-important jerk, well before BLM and the recent focus on diversity and representation, which I do think is important, and should really celebrate the best. I’ve known people who had to play his string quartets and said he’s just horrible to work with. Really thinks highly of himself. Hopefully he won’t get himself canned from this job, but then again, he would exploit that too.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    The man aside, who in the hell came up with “Resident Artistic Catalyst”? Is the NJSO using a pro-bono ad agency? Sounds like an idea from an intern. Just call it a Diversity Officer and be done with it.

    • fflambeau says:

      Why not call it an artistic catalytic converter?

    • Rupert Adams says:

      All this guy is to these Lefties is their “Token Black” that nobody actually vetted for anything except his skin color….

      Their using these people like some freed-slave, Democrat-rooted KKK gimmick to satiate their own egos and say “we got one too”!!!!!!

      Then what? They’ll treat him like any typical child does when they get a new pet and forget about him in a few short months grumbling when he acts out due to lack of attention. It’s what Dems always do to show their veneer of support for run of the mill blacks subsequently abandoning their best interests after they gain power.

      Don’t believe it? Look at Chicago and ALL Democrat strongholds wreaking with poverty and high crime while keeping their blacks in check AWAY from them and their kids leaving them to languish.

      The recently verified US Census moves of “white flightL from blue to better red states bears out their actions vs their words.

  • Curvy Honk Glove says:

    The money to pay this “catalyst” is going to have to come from somewhere, so the symphony will have to 1) fund-raise more in order to meet their current needs plus his fee or 2) siphon those funds from another portion of the symphony’s budget. Remember: this is what the Americans overwhelmingly voted for, and those of you salivating over the prospect of some of that delicious state funding, if you think that money isn’t going to come with some hefty strings attached, you’re fooling yourselves. I’d also put money on the prediction that as the state raises tax rates, you’ll find companies and corporations far less generous in the future.

    • BRUCEB says:

      State funding? LOL. This is the US, as you are so fond of pointing out. Our government (at all levels) hates the arts.

      “I’d also put money on the prediction that as the state raises tax rates, you’ll find companies and corporations far less generous in the future.” …or, they might become more generous as the tax breaks for charitable contributions become more important. (Lowering corporate tax rates has not made corporations more generous.)

      • Curvy Honk Glove says:

        You really think that companies and corporations are going to come running to arts organizations seeking some sort of tax relief? Wow. I mean just wow. Here’s what’s going to happen: those entities will either find tax sheltered ways of reaching those same tax savings (think off-shoring or tax loss harvesting in other assets), or they’ll lobby the legislature to interpret or generate tax laws in their favor.

      • Hayne says:

        Why do you want to keep feeding Leviathan?

        • Curvy Honk Glove says:

          I appreciate the perspective, but I see things a tad differently: 1) it’s not a leviathan to me; 2) I’m not feeding it, I’m sparing with it; and 3) I feel alternative viewpoints and voices must be expressed.

        • Hayne says:

          I was replying to BRUCEB. The reply lines can be confusing to follow sometimes.

      • D. La Salle says:

        These types of non-music positions should be non-PAYING as they are non-essential!

        How’s that for wokeness?!?!

    • Max Raimi says:

      I voted for a President who recognizes facts such as the emerging crisis from climate change, grotesque income inequality, and a criminally dysfunctional health care system. A candidate who was willing to consult the best available data on dealing with COVID. A President whose north star was not his own narcissism, and who recognized the carnage that our obsession with guns has wrought.
      I followed the election fairly carefully, and don’t recall President Biden offering an opinion on the need for symphony orchestras to hire artistic catalysts, whatever that is. In fact, on the knee-jerk left wing issues such as defunding the police and decriminalizing illegal immigration, he was the one candidate who spoke out against them.

      • Curvy Honk Glove says:

        Since you brought up climate change first, I’ll just ask you what carbon offsets you and your US arts organizations have purchased and invested in to offset your carbon footprint. When push really comes to shove, do you really think your overwhelmingly Anglo-European, exclusionary “arts” won’t be sacrificed on the altar of environmental justice?

        • Max Raimi says:

          Why yes, Honk. I really do believe that my Anglo-European (“Anglo-European”? WTF? There were no great classical British composers between the death of Purcell and Vaughan Williams..) arts won’t be sacrificed on the altar of environmental justice! And what do the purchase of carbon offsets by symphony orchestras have to do with the price of rice in China? You are to be congratulated. This post is remarkably unhinged even by the standards of

      • Hayne says:

        You voted for a corrupt old man with dementia.
        Curvy Honky Glove is wrong on one point. It’s quite obvious Biden stole the election. That’s right, I said it! If Trump won, he would still be appointing deep state people like Biden.

      • BigSir says:

        And how do you like the JoeHoeShow?

      • Helen Wynn says:

        I am glad you are happy with your choice. You got him. I do not recall his having anything to say about orchestras or any interest in classical music. I am looking forward to his getting China to pay its fair share in the effort to green the plant. The U.S. has a paltry 15% of the problem. I hope you all remain happy for the next four years.

      • Environmental Supporter says:

        NARCISSISM = “Activists” including Conductors and Musicians who wantonly burn fossil fuels in order to unnecessarily travel and inflict themselves on others.

        FACTS = If these people were truly intelligent and concerned, they would have 100% Virtual protests and concerts. This also includes their mass release of toxic gasses viciously expelled when burning down diverse cities.

  • japecake says:

    I mean, not to knock the New Jersey Symphony, but . . . “legendary?”

  • Charlie says:

    Had some interaction with this guy years ago. The thing about “DBR” (as he likes to style himself) is that he carefully constructed an image and then kind of tried to back into it musically. His music is a farrago of vogueish checklist elements that don’t really add up to much, and it is essentially dependent on whatever stage presence he can wring out of live performance.

  • Kun says:

    There are real issues to address re diversity, but doing so via pretense and self importance is laughably counterproductive.

  • CA says:

    Absurd. Catalyst sounds like a machine. Legendary NJSO? They’re teetering (abd have been) on bankruptcy, last I heard. This wokeism really is just unbelievable.

  • La belle plus voix says:

    Listen here:

    The musical form is a tad recondite, nay recherché.

    • sabrinensis says:

      I watched one minute of it and burst out laughing. Continuing to watch, disbelief and the incredulous set in…

  • Han Solo says:

    One wonders if he will indeed “protest and disrupt actual concerts with BLM flags and bullhorns” as he suggested people do in Detroit only four days ago? That was his suggestion for dealing with race there, and now he’s on the payroll? That guy has a gift for the grift!

  • The View from America says:

    Oh, joy.

  • Bostin'Symph says:

    A catalyst is a substance which causes a chemical reaction or change without itself being affected. :-0

  • John Borstlap says:

    The tendency of many orchestras in the Western world to make themselves ‘useful’ to society, to become instruments of social change, results from the decreasing status of classical music as a whole, and especially its most expensive medium: the symphony orchestra.

    Justification of the costs has now to be found in some form of utility that lies outside music because music as such becomes much too difficult to see as something socially relevant. In a time when the notion of culture, and of psychological and spiritual things, is eroding, only the material and the financial aspects of life remain visible, and social injustices because they are understandeable by most people, including the culturally-challenged, on the most basic level.

    So, in an attempt to survive in a hostile society, a number of people at symphony orchestras think it necessary to turn away from the idea that classical music is a common good in itself and accessible to anyone, and to prostitute the medium. It is like an upperclass woman whose husband has left her and emptied the mutual bank account, and who desperately tries-out selling herself for survival.

  • BigSir says:

    They all have to have a POC as window dressing. That and covid are all the rage.

  • Better to have someone concerned with music rather than with those spurious concepts known as “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

  • PianistW says:

    Translation: now it is fashionable in the US to have more non-whites Aland non-asians, but no one we audition for the orchestra fit the requirement and was a good enough player for the orchestra, so let’s hire a non-white non-asian who would otherwise not find a job in the orchestra, let’s pay him a nice salary and publish lots of photos of him on social media so the political correctness police is satisfied that we are inclusive etc.

  • Eusebius says:

    In other words, they hired based on race. That’s illegal.

  • Eusebius says:

    Where’s our token Persian and token Indian in admin and orchestras?