Disruptor Conductor

Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser is an unlikely hero on a mission to create live orchestral shows that are for everyone.
Available on CBC Gem

Disruptor Conductor


As far as Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser knows, there aren’t many black LGBTQ conductors like him in Canada. The child of a working-class Caribbean mother, he was raised in Calgary and, for many years, struggled with his sexuality. “I have often felt ‘other’ in my life,” he says.

Growing up, Bartholomew-Poyser was drawn to classical music and often turned to it for solace. As an adult, he finally found his voice as a conductor. He believes that the beauty of music can heal and unite all of us beyond differences in race, sexuality, socioeconomic status and gender identity.

Bartholomew-Poyser wants to use his musical power for good. In Disruptor Conductor we see him on a mission to break down institutional walls and bring live orchestral music to young people, the LGBTQ community, people on the autism spectrum and prison populations — anyone who might not have had access to it or who may have felt unwelcome in traditional spaces. 

“We’re trying to bring music to everybody. Oftentimes, when you heard these instruments, sometimes you had to go to a concert hall to hear it. We’re trying to bring it out of the concert hall and just take it to wherever people are,” says Bartholomew-Poyser.

Along with RuPaul’s Drag Race star Thorgy Thor, Bartholomew-Poyser creates the first orchestral drag queen show in Canada. It’s a way to express two parts of himself at once, bringing Old World orchestra and his recently discovered LGBTQ community together in a harmonic union.