When Daniel Bernard Roumain entered one of the rehearsal halls at the University of Houston's Moores School of Music, he had a plan to shake up the expectations of the myriad of students that comprise the Spirit of Houston Cougar Marching Band.
Roumain, known in music circles as DBR, is a Haitian-American composer/violinist currently in a multi-year residence at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at UH. This part of his cross-disciplinary collaboration is en route to stage En Masse Studies in Etudes, a four-hour deconstructed performance of a marching band on parade, directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, set for April 20 at Discovery Green.
Students discovered that music making is much more than notes fixed on the staff — if you allow artistic freedom to reign.
In this first meeting of the musical minds, DBR led a throng of emerging musicians through a melange of exercises designed to break the conventions of a group that otherwise thrives on performing as a tight unit. By interpreting gestures and layering improvisational techniques atop a multi-part score, students discovered that music making is much more than notes fixed on the staff — if you allow artistic freedom to reign.
DBR has a clear vision for the end product, but he's open to letting the process dictate possibilities. Such a strategy allows the students to look at their craft through the looking glass while learning that determining what questions to ask is much more important than the getting the answer right.
Got a great photo of a Houston happening or everyday occurrence? Or just a fun photo that shows why Houston is so unique? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with details (who, what, where and why it's special). It might make our Pix of the Day.