Daniel Bernard Roumain’s “The Telling” Program

Welcome to Daniel Bernard Roumain’s THE TELLING. FirstWorks presents world-class arts and performance programs year-round in Providence. Join us for upcoming events and sign up for our mailing list to be the first to know.

A close up of a Black man playing the violin with his eyes closed





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“Working and collaborating with FirstWorks in the presentation of THE TELLING and chamber work TWIN STARS, comes at a time of great division and divide in our United States of America. Are we united? Do we share a singular, national ambition? What are the stories that we could all share and whom would be entrusted to tell them? 

THE TELLING is the sharing of stories, songs and ideas. I think our dreams may be best evidence of our conscious. Things don’t seem quite right, and when words evade or fail us, the work of artists might matter most. If you could only tell one last story before it all ends, which one would it be and why? 

That’s what I’ve tried to do in THE TELLING.”

-Daniel Bernard Roumain 


Daniel Bernard Roumain – Composer, Violin
Melvin Chen – Piano
Becky Bass – Mezzo-Soprano
Albert Rudolph Lee – Tenor

MusicWorks Collective – String Quartet, featuring:
Sarah Kim – Violin
Kimberly Fang – Violin
Sebastian Ruth – Viola
Kamyron Williams – Cello

Choreographed by
Shura Baryshnikov – Dancer
Victoria L. Awkward – Dancer
Jay Breen – Dancer

Dana Greenfield – Director
David Shocket – Lighting Designer




I Have Nothing to Do Except Love

Libretto, Simone Roumain, Minna Choi, Dana Greenfield

They Still Want to Kill Us

Love is the Only Word Sweeter than Black
Libretto, Marc Bamuthi Joseph

A Duet

Twin Stars
Libretto, Marc Bamuthi Joseph


A Town Hall dialogue will follow the live concert. With reflections from: Central Falls Councilwoman Tatiana Baena, Angel Cepeda, Classical High School Student and Providence Student Union Liaison, and Ray Rickman, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Stages of Freedom.



DBR HeadshotDaniel Bernard Roumain
Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) is a prolific and endlessly collaborative composer, performer, educator, and social entrepreneur. “About as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets” (New York Times), DBR has worked with artists from Philip Glass to Bill T. Jones to Lady Gaga; appeared on NPR, American Idol, and ESPN; and has collaborated with the Sydney Opera House and the City of Burlington, Vermont. Acclaimed as a violinist and activist, DBR’s career spans more than two decades, earning commissions by venerable artists and institutions worldwide.

Known for his signature violin sounds infused with myriad electronic, urban, and African-American music influences, DBR takes his genre-bending music beyond the proscenium. He is a composer of chamber, orchestral, and operatic works; has been nominated for a Sports EMMY for Outstanding Musical Composition for his collaboration with ESPN; featured as keynote performer at technology conferences; and created large scale, site-specific musical events for public spaces.

DBR earned his doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Michigan and is currently Institute Professor and Professor of Practice at Arizona State University.

An avid arts industry leader, DBR serves on the board of directors of the League of American Orchestras, Association of Performing Arts Presenters and Creative Capital, the advisory committee of the Sphinx Organization, and was co-chair of 2015 and 2016 APAP Conferences. https://www.danielroumain.com/


A man with glasses seated at a pianoMelvin Chen
A native of Tennessee, Dr. Melvin Chen has received acclaim for solo and chamber performances throughout the United States, Canada, and Asia. Chen’s performances have been featured on radio and television stations around the world, including KBS television and radio in Korea, NHK television in Japan, and NPR in the United States.

As a Professor in the Practice of Piano, Chen teaches a studio of graduate and undergraduate piano students. In addition, he is the Deputy Dean at the Yale School of Music, a role that involves overseeing academic affairs and general institutional management, and also serves as Director of the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival–Yale Summer School of Music, where he also performs. Previously, Chen was Associate Director and on the piano faculty at the Bard College Conservatory of Music and served as Artistic Director of the chamber music program at the Hotchkiss School Summer Portals. 

Chen earned a doctorate in chemistry from Harvard University and holds a double master’s degree from The Juilliard School in piano and violin. He received his bachelor of science degree in chemistry and physics from Yale University, where he studied with Boris Berman, Paul Kantor, and Ida Kavafian. 

Chen’s notable solo recordings include Beethoven’s “Diabelli” Variations (Bridge Records), which the American Record Guide described as “a classic,” piano music by Joan Tower (Naxos Records), and sonatas and other piano works by Shostakovich (Bridge Records), among others. https://music.yale.edu/people/melvin-chen


A Black woman on stage singing and playing the steel panBecky Bass
New-England treasure Becky Bass is known for her “euphoric steel pan playing, soulful voice, and powerful stage presence, on and off camera. A native of St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, Bass utilizes her talent to highlight Caribbean music’s evolution through human necessity and resilience, and share the complex history of Caribbean music and its influence on the U.S.

A 2013 graduate of Brown University in Theatre Arts & Performance Studies, Becky received Brown’s Weston Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre, is now a two-time New England Urban Music Award winner & RI Motif Award winner and can be heard while performing her Caribbean Soul music solo as well as with several bands all over the New England area, such as Zili Misik, Natural Element, and Sidy Maiga & Afrimanding. She also lends her musical talents to Rhode Island’s RPM Voices, a cross-cultural, multi-generational gospel choir led by Dr. Clarice Thompson and Delbert Collins, as a soloist, musician, and youth choir director. Since the start of her career, she has performed in many professional theaters across New England as well as in a few films, TV shows, and commercials, including a national commercial with Kohl’s & Hulu, a regional commercial for AAA, and most recently, a speaking role in the show “Julia” on HBOMax. Favorite Regional Credits: “Ain’t Misbehavin” (Armelia McQueen); “A Night with Lady Day” (Billie Holiday); “Hairspray” (Motormouth Maybelle); “RENT” (Mrs. Jefferson/Blanket Lady); “Aida” (Nehebka). Becky has had the opportunity to open for and perform with many international artists, including Grammy Award-winning vocalist Oumou Sangaré and violinist Damien Escobar, Yellowman, Warrior King, and Wyclef Jean. She also has performed at the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), New York City’s Lincoln Center, Chicago’s Underground Wonder Bar, and Off-Broadway theater LaMaMa. During her free time, she teaches music & theatre to students every chance she gets because she believes giving back and mentoring youth are extremely important aspects of being an artist in the community.

She extends so much gratitude to FirstWorks for inviting her back as well as her family and friends for their continued love, support, and care. www.beckybass.com; IG: @beckybassmusic


A black and white portrait of a Black man tipping his hatAlbert Rudolph Lee
Tenor, Albert Rudolph Lee’s performances have been described as “vocally sumptuous,” “musically distinctive” and even “acrobatically agile.” Having appeared with Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia Orchestra, Saint Luke’s Chamber Orchestra, the Collegiate Chorale of New York City, Caramoor International Music Festival, and the Aspen Music Festival, Lee’s operatic and oratorio roles include Don Ramiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Almaviva in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Nemorino in L’Elisir d’Amore and Ferrando in Cosi Fan Tutte and the tenor solos in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, and the Rossini Stabat Mater.

Throughout his performing career, he has also worked to preserve and expand the performance of Negro Spirituals in domestic and international performances with the American Spiritual Ensemble. In addition, Lee performed a recital of art song settings of Langston Hughes poetry in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and is a featured soloist on a recording of works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, George Walker on Albany Records singing musical settings of the Walt Whitman poem “When lilacs last in dooryard bloomed,” a poem written as an elegy to Abraham Lincoln after his assassination.  

Most recently, he appeared as tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the National Chorale, joined the British-based classical crossover group Vox Fortura in domestic and international performances, and made appearances with Opera Las Vegas and Steamboat Opera of Colorado. Having completed the Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Connecticut, the Master of Music at The Juilliard School, and the Doctor of Music degree at Florida State University with a doctoral treatise titled “The Poetic Voice of Langston Hughes in American Art Song,” he is Associate Professor of Music (Adjunct) and the inaugural Director of Equity, Belonging, and Student Life at the Yale University School of Music. https://music.yale.edu/people/albert-lee


MusicWorks Collective
The MusicWorks Collective (MWC) is Community MusicWorks’s ensemble-in-residence, whose concert activities are guided by a vision that musical experiences can be transformative ones. MusicWorks Collective performs music that represents the musicians’ individual and collective passions, ranging from Bach to 21st-century compositions to musical collaborations that honor the traditions of CMW students’ families. The musicians make programming choices conscious of representing voices from everyone in our community, especially the historically marginalized voices of women composers and composers of color, believing that musical experiences are richest when everyone is heard. MWC performs in venues ranging from concert halls to corner taquerias and seeks to animate performances with a sense of community-building and celebration of the human spirit. Further afield, they have performed in Boston, New York City, and at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. In addition to performances, CMW’s resident musicians provide free after-school programming to youth in Providence’s West End neighborhood. Learn more about Community MusicWorks at www.communitymusicworks.org.


Photo of Artist in Black and WhiteShura Baryshnikov (she/her/hers) is a Rhode Island-based multimodal artist who works broadly as a performer, somatic movement educator, director, and choreographer for projects across dance, theatre, opera, and film. Recent performance and choreography credits include projects with Boston Lyric Opera, Khambatta Dance Company, Urbanity Dance, Odyssey Opera, Trinity Repertory Company, Bridge Repertory Theater, The Wilbury Theatre Group, The Gamm Theatre, and Betsy Miller Dance Projects, among others. She has also co-founded a number of dance projects, including the Contact Improvisation research and performance ensemble Set Go and the contemporary dance company, Doppelgänger Dance Collective.

Recent projects include the February 2022 release of Shura’s directorial debut, a dance film crafted to the score of Ana Sokolović’s opera Svadba for Boston Lyric Opera, and the creation of a duet performance, Two, with acclaimed cellist and composer, Adrienne Taylor, which premiered in July 2022 at Bates Dance Festival.

Shura is Head of Physical Theatre for the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Program in the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University and maintains an active international teaching practice at dance festivals and training institutions. Ultimately in pursuit of interdisciplinary processes that support improvisatory frameworks and profound somatic sensitivity, she works to create deeply-sensitized, collaborative spaces for learning and making. Shura is a proud member of both the Actors’ Equity Association and the American Guild of Musical Artists. More at www.shurabaryshnikov.com.


A Black woman in a full length yellow dress with puff sleeves dancing outside on a wooden boardwalk next to a glass buildingVictoria L. Awkward is a freelance dance artist, educator and the Director of VLA DANCE based in Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Visual and Performing Arts Education from Goucher College. While there she danced for the Goucher Repertory Dance Ensemble and performed in works by Sidra Bell, Christian Von Howard, Helen Simoneau, and others. Since graduating she has danced with Shura Baryshnikov and Levi Marsman at the Boston Lyric Opera, with Ashani Dances, Attn: Dance, The Davis Sisters, Heather Stewart, Jenna Pollack and Ruckus Dance. She has been a guest teacher at Salem State University and is currently the Head Dance Coach at Middlesex School in Concord. She furthers her educational values through her work as a mentee with grassroots organization, Midday Movement Series. As a Director Victoria is committed to celebrating the artistry of Boston – especially those of Black and queer identities through her company, VLA DANCE. Most recently, she received the Boston Dancemakers Residency with Boston Center for the Arts and the Boston Foundation’s Live Arts Boston Grant for her work with VLA DANCE.  Listen to an interview with Victoria on WBUR.


A portrait of a smiling young woman wearing a halter top red crochet dress and blond dreadlocks pulled back away from their faceJay Breen (she/they) is a young 23-year-old artist and a lifelong resident in Providence, RI. Being connected to a number of realms within the art world, both in Rhode Island and elsewhere, has made her passionate about using artistic voice to build and bridge communities. They use their dance experience as a means of connecting with others who are passionate about the arts. Jay has been immersed in the world of dance since she was able to stand on two feet. Over the years, they have learned from and/or worked with Stacey Tookey, Cindy Salgado, Teddy Forance, Dana Wilson, Alexandra Damiani, Brian Nicholson, Noelle Marsh, Martha Nichols, Shura Baryshnikov and a number of other well-respected people, artists, and educators. She has diversified her sources, in hopes of pouring all of her accumulative knowledge into those that learn from her and the work that others witness through her.


Dana Greenfield is a Brooklyn based theater & film director, producer, and teaching artist. Her theatrical work has been seen throughout NYC and internationally, extending east to Romania and south to Buenos Aires. Her film work includes Morning Mourning, Executive Produced by David Bryan and DBR’s Except Love for Prototype Festival. She worked closely under Lee Breuer & in 2021 was invited to continue direction on his final production, A Coffin in Egypt. She is an Associate Producer for Sozo, a collective of companies which empower groundbreaking, risk-taking artists and develop creative content relevant in today’s dynamic and diverse global communities. Member, LC Directors Lab. Associate Member, SDC | danagreenfield.com

David Shocket
David is a Lighting Designer and Educator for theatre, dance, and event productions. Projects include: Ballroom with a Twist, Motown with a Twist, Dance to the Movies (Nat’l Tour); Legally Blonde (Hofstra); Eat the Devil (The Tank); Lured (TNC); Suds (ART Cambridge); Spin Off (Riverside Theater); DiscOasis (Asst. Central Park, NYC); Outside Lands Music Festival (Asst. Golden Gate State Park, SF); Grand Horizons (Assoc. B’Way); What the Constitution Means to Me (Assoc. B’Way, Nat’l Tour); Nollywood Dreams (Assoc. MCC); Powerstrip (Assoc. LCT). Mentor, Production & Design Faculty at Pace University. Social: @dshocketld | www.dshocketdesigns.com





The Telling” was made possible with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ New Work New England program, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Seedlings Foundation, the Fund for the Arts at NEFA, and individual donors. This grant is in honor of Dr. Larry Simpson, a NEFA board member from 2006 –2020, including six years as chair, and a champion of the arts.

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This program is made possible with additional support from Providence’s Department of Art Culture + Tourism, and the Aaron Roitman Fund for Chamber Music.

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