Hailed by the Lowell Sun for creatively pushing young and amateur players “with respect, humor and great expectations” to performances which deliver “spontaneity and poise that rivals seasoned pros”, Conductor Douglas McRay Daniels is building a reputation in the Greater Boston area for taking amateur orchestras to new heights.
Mr. Daniels was appointed principal conductor of the Honors Orchestra for Nashoba Youth Orchestras (NYO) in 2007 and immediately embarked on ambitious projects with his orchestra, comprised primarily of middle and high school aged musicians. Transformed under his direction, the orchestra has performed challenging works such as Beethoven Symphony No. 7 and Mendelssohn 4. In their final concert of this season, he led the orchestra and choirs from the Boston Children’s Chorus together in inspiring performances demonstrating his conducting prowess in choral as well as instrumental works.
Born in Eufaula, Alabama, he developed his love for classical music early, at age 7, when he received as a gift an old transistor radio which picked up a classical station out of Fort Gaines, Georgia. He studied piano and then trombone, ultimately making his way to Boston where he was drawn to the podium by a desire to share his passion for classical music in new and exciting ways through creative programming.
Guided by a belief in music as “common ground” that bridges differences in race, culture, origin and age, he is particularly interested in engaging young (new) audiences in orchestral music. He has conducted and taught university and youth ensembles at top schools in New England and Nebraska. In 2003, he founded Daniels Music Schools as part of his personal mission to bring the finest in music education to developing young musicians who may not otherwise have opportunity to study music. For next three years, he created music programs in several schools in the Greater Boston area.
Prior to being the principal conductor of the Nashoba Youth Orchestra (2007-2009), Mr. Daniels served as conductor of the Sinfonia at Philips Exeter Academy as well as assistant conductor with the Heartland Philharmonic Orchestra at the University of Nebraska and with the Marlborough Symphony Orchestra. His Boston area guest conducting appointments have included the Melrose Symphony Orchestra, Boston Invitational Trombone Ensemble (BITE) and Quincy Symphony Orchestra. Recently, he was identified as a promising young conductor by the Omaha Symphony Orchestra and was invited to participate in the Omaha Symphony Conductor’s Symposium. There, he worked with renowned conductors Thomas Wilkins and Mark Gibson on preparing for the musical and administrative demands of 21st century music director. Also a prolific composer, Daniels’ Rev. E.L. Knight, for solo tuba was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s principal tubist, Michael Roylance, during the 2007 Tanglewood season. Currently, Mr. Daniels is the assistant conductor of the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra.
A graduate of the University of Montevallo, Boston Conservatory and University of Nebraska at Omaha, Mr. Daniels has studied conducting with Boston based teacher Yoichi Udagawa. He has degrees in conducting, trombone performance, and music education.
Ray makes his home in Medford, MA with his wife, Kikuyu, and their over-indulged cocker spaniel, Lula.