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Friday, April 12, 2024

20 questions (pandemic edition) with Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser

This week we check in with Symphony Nova Scotia's artist in residence and community ambassador, Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser.

During this time of social distancing and dark venues, Halifax Presents continues to check-in with members of our arts community to find out how they are staying creative and managing during the pandemic.

This week we check in with Symphony Nova Scotia’s artist in residence and community ambassador, Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser.

1. How are you staying creative during the pandemic?

This question assumes I have been staying creative, which has not always been the case. I initially tried to stay productive, which I largely did. And then I focused on reflection. So I guess that was a creative way of dealing with things! I took a step back and did a lot of thinking about culture and art and what they can mean to people.

2. What’s the one thing getting you through?

Italian food.

3. How are you staying in contact with family and friends who are not in your bubble?

Definitely not Zoom calls. Mostly phone, text and sharing memes and TikTok videos ftw.

4. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far during the pandemic?

I only have so much energy, so many “spoons,” so to speak, to give in a day. I am not inexhaustible, though I may sometimes think it. When I consider where I am at the beginning of the day, I can get to the end of the day in a good place. Also, quite a lot of Spanish!

5. What do you feel the most grateful for right now?

Though imperfect and not without serious challenges and otherwise, I am extremely grateful for Canada. For the Canadians, I agree with and disagree with. For the privilege of being, during a pandemic, “stuck” in an incredibly, incredibly, beautiful country. I did nothing to earn being born here. It’s an amazing place. I feel lucky/blessed.

6. What is something you are doing now that you don’t normally? workouts every morning (they are great!)

7. What skill have you developed since the pandemic started?

I can gain weight faster than ever before!

8. What have you missed the most?

Music performances, going out dancing and, importantly, not seeing every stranger as a potentially mortal threat.

9. Your #1 pandemic survival tip.

Nina Simone playlist is a must!

10. Your biggest indulgence since the pandemic started.

Again, Italian Food. In Italian cuisine, the shapes of pasta and the consistencies of sauces are married in such a way as to dramatically epitomize flavour delivery. Chefs know this (probably most people know this), but I never really thought about it until it became my weekly highlight. Lasagna! Bechamel! Life!

11. What have you stockpiled?

Books. I bought way too many books.

12. What have you been reading?

Cultural theory, race theory, political theory, comic fiction, car magazines.

13. What have you been watching?

Stranger Things and other horror. I love horror.

14. What have you been listening to?

J.S. Bach, Dave Matthews, Anna Meredith, Nina Simone, Rufus Wainwright, Béla Bartók.

15. What are you doing for exercise? Simply the best online workouts. No matter the length, 5, 20, 45. You will feel it.

16. The one thing you haven’t been able to live without?


17. Do-it-yourself haircut or the natural look?

I basically have no hair; this question is but a harsh reminder of said sad fact.

18. Night owl or early riser?

The night is my favourite time of day.

19. Will you be the first out as restrictions are gradually lifted or taking a wait-and-see attitude?

I will be safely out.

20. What’s the first thing you will do when this is all over?

Hmmm. I don’t believe that there is an all-over or a ‘return to before.’ Not even just as a result of the pandemic but even generally. Life is forward. It is not possible for us to unlearn what we have learned and what we have seen during the pandemic. Maybe, for some of these things, we wouldn’t even want to. So we can’t go back, and it may never be over, or ever the same.

But once even all that is over, I will go out dancing. And I will dance.

Meet Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser

A passionate communicator, Daniel brings clarity and meaning to the concert hall, fostering deep connections between audiences and performers.

Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser is concurrently the Principal Education Conductor and Community Ambassador of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Artist in Residence and Community Ambassador of Symphony Nova Scotia. Daniel has been re-invited to the San Francisco Symphony for six consecutive years and was Cover Conductor with the  Washington National Opera in 2020.

In his spare time, Daniel is a fan of cats, chocolate and cars. He is a private pilot who enjoys reading political and cultural theory, and he does not get scared watching horror movies by himself.

You can find out more about Daniel at or follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

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