100 Creatives 2014: Dominique Royem, Symphony Orchestra Conductor

Dominique Royem and the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra
Dominique Royem and the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra
All photos courtesy of Dominique Royem

Dominique Royem, Music Director of the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra as well as Music Director and Conductor of Bayou City Concert Musicals, was in college when she conducted her first orchestra. As part of a class, she conducted "How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place" from the Brahms Requiem. "I had fun," she tells us, "but didn't think anything about it. After the performance, Dr. Robert Linder, who happened to be in the audience, pulled me aside and told me that I had a spark that 'couldn't be taught' and [that I] should pursue conducting professionally. I said 'Uhhhh... sure?' and that was that."

Soon after that, Royem was appointed as assistant conductor for a production of The Marriage of Figaro. At the time she had only a small amount of training, but it was then that she first called herself a conductor. "The title of conductor or music director is a job description, but it's one you have to earn. [With that production of The Marriage of Figaro,] I jumped head first into something I didn't fully understand. Things move very quickly in the theater world, and there is no time for self-doubt. Through that experience I learned that I had to call myself a conductor if I wanted to be one; no one else could bestow the title on me."

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What she does:"As a conductor, I am a guide. I guide audiences into new experiences through the creation of concert programs and seasons, helping the audience and the orchestra create community through the act of live music. I'm also a leader, but I don't really dictate direction as much as [I] actively create [a] space where it is possible for the musicians around me to do the best job they can at any given moment. During a concert, I find the best path through a musical work for that specific moment in time that allows every musician on stage to perform with utmost musicality."

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Why she likes it: "Most people consider being a conductor a selfish, self-indulgent pursuit, one someone engages in to feed their ego. I actually like conducting because of how much collaboration it requires." She works to get lost in the music, Royem says, to create an enjoyable musical experience for both the audience and orchestra. In order to do that, "no ego need apply."

What inspires her: "The power music has to move you comes from the passion that each musician is pouring into the work, magnified by the number of musicians on stage. It is that passion and dedication, from so many people, that inspires me."

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If not this, then what: "I wanted to be an astronaut when I was growing up, but that hope was dashed by bad eyesight. Realistically, if I was not a conductor, I would want be leading a non-profit as an executive director, or operations staff. I love helping people create art, and the act of creating opportunities for other artists doesn't only happen on stage."

If not here, then where: "My heart will always belong to Chicago, my hometown, but all I want is to create art and help others create and experience art - and I can do that anywhere! Houston is a fantastic town for this - I don't think there is a better place I could be!"

What's next: "Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra's ... popular annual Christmas concert, Deck the Halls, is [coming up] on December 7th. [Houston Baptist Univeristy's] Schola Cantorum will joining us and we will have Mayor Scarcella of the City of Stafford reciting Twas the Night Before Christmas. On December 14th, I'll be giving a lecture for Bayou City Concert Musicals on Music as Drama."

For information, visit dominiqueroyem.com or fbso.org.

More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).

Marc Boone, Sneaker Gang founder and designer Andy McWilliams, sound designer and composer Maria-Elisa Heg, zine queen Allan Rodewald, artist Anne-Joelle Galley, artist Michelle Ellen Jones, ballroom dancer and actress Morris Malakoff, photographer and filmmaker Terrill Mitchell, dancer Deji Osinulu, photographer Mason Sweeney, artist K.J. Russell, sci-fi author and writing teacher Emily Robison, choreographer and filmmaker John Cramer, violinist and concertmaster Shipra Mehrotra, Odissi dancer and choreographer Winston Williams, comics artist Octavio Moreno, opera singer Dylan Godwin, actor, storyteller and teacher McKenna Jordan, independent bookstore owner Steven Trimble, mixed media artist Sandria Hu, visual artist and professor of art Robert Gouner AKA Goon73, photographer Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina (aka SHER), culture gurus Mark Bradley, photographer James Ferry, comics artist Keith Parsons, author and philosophy professor Alonzo Williams Jr., photographer Rudy Zanzibar Campos, painter Paige Kiliany, director Betirri Bengtson, visual artist Melissa Maygrove, romance novelist Natalie Harris, bridal gown designer Larry McKee, cinematographer Tiffany Heath, filmmaker Jonathan Pidcock, Jewelry Maker Mallory Bechtel, actor, singer, dancer Janine Hughes, visual artist Nyssa Juneau, artist John Merritt, artist Leslie Scates, choreographer and dance educator Denise O'Neal, producer, director, playwright Jason Poland, cartoonist Courtney Sandifer, filmmaker, actor, writer Lloyd Gite, gallery owner Henry Yau, The Children's Museum of Houston's publicity and promotions guru Angeli Pidcock, fantasy writer and mentor Jennifer Mathieu, author Scott Chitwood, writer Anat Ronen, urban artist Amber Galloway Gallego, rockstar and sign language interpreter Michael Weems, playwright Lane Montoya, artist Jordan Simpson, SLAM poet Joey & Jaime, designers Suzi Taylor, photographer Ashton Miyako, dressmaker T. Smith, artistLindsay Finnen, photographer Kaitlyn Stanley, tattoo artist Eleazar Galindo Navarro, video game maker Kate de Para, textile and clothing designer Shawn Swanner, video game painter Andy Gonzales, painter Chris Foreman, comic book sketcher Theresa DiMenno, photographer Jessica E. Jones, opera singer Atseko Factor, actor John Pluecker, writer, poet and language justice worker Ricky Ortiz, painter, tattoo artist Rabēa Ballin, artist David Wald, actor Lisa E. Harris, performing and visual artist Stephanie Todd Wong, executive director of Dance Source Houston Pamela Fagan Hutchins, novelist Heather Gordy, artist Mark Nasso, comic artist Shelbi-Nicole, artist Marian Szczepanski, novelist Jonathan Blake, fashion designer Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer


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