For almost a year, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts has been working alongside an artist and composer who has been taking students on a journey of self-discovery and challenging them to try new forms of art.
Working with experienced artists allows students to have a hands-on experience with creating art and performing it by providing them with one-on-one interaction with an expert in their field.
Composer, violinist and bandleader Daniel Bernard Roumain has collaborated with Cassandra Wilson, Lady Gaga and Bill T. Jones.
“The idea was to make an impact on more students, and we had always wanted to do something with the UH Cougar Marching Band, and of course, that (has) hundreds and hundreds of students involved, so it represented a really wonderful opportunity to potentially impact a number of students from different departments,” said Director of the Mitchell Center Karen Farber.
The first major event that Roumain performed with the marching band was “En Masse” during his first semester working with UH, Spring 2013.
Most recently, members of the band performed with Roumain on the stage of the Moores Opera House as part of the of the Spirit of Houston annual benefit.
“Daniel Roumain gave the students, staff and our audience a meaningful gift in his innovative and spontaneous creation of music as it truly relates to how we live our lives,” said Spirit of Houston Director Marc Martin. “It definitely brought me back for a moment to how we experience music at a very young age — free from all boundaries and formulas about how much is constructed. I will never forget his beautiful message to the students in the Spirit of Houston.”
The next event that Roumain will be a part of is the counterCURRENT festival next spring, in which he will give an artist talk. The event will be held over five days on and off campus and will feature 12 unique compositions. The event aims to bring the local community to campus.
“For all of us in the arts on campus, it’s a critical piece of what we do; we function as a bridge between (UH) and the community beyond campus,” Farber said. “We all bring people to campus, but I think ultimately as a group, we aim to prove that this is an arts destination. It’s a walkable neighborhood of arts venues, which is hard to come by in Houston.”
The experience has been life-changing not only for students and other members of the UH community, but also for Roumain. Working on campus has emphasized his dedication to the arts. It has also opened his eyes to the vast potential to be found at the University.
“Working with the UH Cougar Marching Band allows for the realization of big, musical ideas with a big, committed sound,” Roumain said. “The Mitchell Center is a place where big dreams can become reality, because nothing with them is too small to consider. This residency has reaffirmed my belief in the arts to motivate, provoke and capture the spirit of Houston and the soul of a city.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the name of the Spirit of Houston fall benefit which was previously wrongly indentified as the Mitchell Center’s fall benefit.