The Du Bois Orchestra, founded by Harvard students in 2015 to make music a means of overcoming social exclusion, has exploded onto the local musical scene. It performs to large, diverse audiences, and elevates underrepresented composers by performing their works alongside works from the traditional classical canon.
The orchestra recently performed a concert series in honor of the 150th birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois, a civil rights leader and the first African American to graduate with a PhD from Harvard. At one performance during the series, the City of Cambridge issued a proclamation honoring Du Bois’s legacy, and the Du Bois Society at Harvard put on an exhibit honoring his life. The orchestra’s upcoming concerts will continue to feature composers from underrepresented backgrounds.
The orchestra is conducted by Nathaniel Meyer, the winner of the inaugural Vincent C. LaGuardia Conducting Competition and a finalist and prizewinner of the American Prize in Conducting. Meyer also received the Wrexham Prize in Music from Yale and the Artistic Excellence Award from Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, where he studied with David Effron and Arthur Fagen, earning a M.M. in Orchestral Conducting and serving as assistant conductor of the Opera and Ballet Theater. Upon graduation, he was the musical assistant to Benjamin Zander, his musical mentor. He is now the orchestra director at St. Mark's School, and conducts the Belmont Festival Orchestra in addition to the Du Bois Orchestra.
The Du Bois Orchestra includes musicians from Harvard University, Longy School of Music, New England Conservatory, Boston Conservatory, and members of the local musical community.
“What has this Beauty to do with the world? What has Beauty to do with Truth and Goodness—with the facts of the world and the right actions of men? ‘Nothing’, the artists rush to answer. They may be right. I am but an humble disciple of art and cannot presume to say. I am one who tells the truth and exposes evil and seeks with Beauty and for Beauty to set the world right. That somehow, somewhere eternal and perfect Beauty sits above Truth and Right I can conceive, but here and now and in the world in which I work they are for me unseparated and inseparable.”
--W.E.B Du Bois