Dubbed a “Classical Rock Star” by the press, cellist Joshua Roman has earned a national
reputation for performing a wide range of repertoire with an absolute commitment to
communicating the essence of the music at its most organic level. Before embarking on a solo
career, he was for two seasons principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony, a position he won in 2006 at the age of 22. For his ongoing creative initiatives on behalf of classical music, he has been selected as a 2011 TED Fellow, joining a select group of Next Generation innovators who have shown unusual accomplishments and the potential to positively affect the world.
This past season Roman’s engagements included debuts as concerto soloist with the San
Francisco Symphony, as well as the Albany, Arkansas, and Santa Barbara Symphonies, the New
Philharmonic Orchestra in Illinois, Oklahoma’s Signature Symphony, and Kentucky’s Lexington
Philharmonic. The San Francisco Chronicle hailed him as “a cellist of extraordinary technical and
musical gifts” following his San Francisco Symphony debut under the baton of Herbert Blomstedt. In 2010/11 Roman returns to the New Philharmonic Orchestra, and appears for the first time with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Northwest Indiana Symphony, Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra in Michigan, Greenwich Symphony in Connecticut, and the Everett Philharmonic in Washington, among others.
Summer 2010 engagements included performances with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del
Ecuador, the Bellingham Festival Orchestra in Washington, and Napa Valley’s Music In the
Vineyards. He gave the world premiere of Dan Visconti’s Americana for solo cello and piano
in Seattle and the New York premiere at the inaugural Chelsea Music Festival. The piece was
written for Roman and commissioned by Seattle’s Town Hall, where he is Artistic Director of
TownMusic, an experimental chamber music series. In 2010/11 at Town Hall, Roman collaborates with composers Derek Bermel and Gabriela Lena Frank, and plays music of Gesualdo with the Jack Quartet. He also appears with experimental hip hop musician DJ Spooky at Seattle’s new Heineken City Arts Festival.
In recent seasons Roman has appeared as soloist with the Seattle Symphony, where he gave the world premiere of David Stock’s Cello Concerto, as well as with the Symphonies of Edmonton, Quad City, Spokane, and Stamford, and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. He performed Britten’s third Cello Suite during New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival in a pre-concert recital at Avery Fisher Hall, and in April 2009, he was the only guest artist invited to play an unaccompanied solo during the YouTube Symphony Orchestra’s debut concert at Carnegie Hall.
In addition to his solo work, Roman is an avid chamber music performer. He has enjoyed
collaborations with veterans like Earl Carlyss and Christian Zacharias, as well as the Seattle
Chamber Music Society and the International Festival of Chamber Music in Lima, Peru. He often
joins forces with other dynamic young soloists and performers from New York’s contemporary
music scene, including artists from Alarm Will Sound, So Percussion, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two. In spring 2007, he was named Artistic Director of
TownMusic in Seattle, where he creates programs that feature new works and reflect the eclectic
range of his musical influences and inspirations.
Committed to making music accessible to a wider audience, Roman may be found anywhere from a club to a classroom, performing jazz, rock, chamber music, or a solo sonata by Bach or Kodály. His versatility as a performer and his ongoing exploration of new concertos, chamber music, and solo cello works have spawned projects with composers such as Aaron Jay Kernis, Mason Bates, and Alexandra Gardner. One of Roman’s current undertakings is an online video series called “The Popper Project”: wherever the cellist and his laptop find themselves, he performs an étude from David Popper’s “High School of Cello Playing” and uploads it, unedited, to his YouTube channel. Roman’s outreach endeavors have taken him to Uganda with his violin-playing siblings, where they played chamber music in schools, HIV/AIDS centers, and displacement camps, communicating a message of hope through music.
The Oklahoma City native began playing the cello at the age of three on a quarter-size instrument, and played his first public recital at age ten. Home-schooled until he was 16, Roman then pursued his musical studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Richard Aaron. Roman received his Bachelor’s Degree in Cello Performance in 2004, and his Master’s in 2005, as a student of Desmond Hoebig, principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Joshua Roman has been singled out as “Musical America’s New Artist of the Month.” He is
grateful for the loan of an 1899 cello by Giulio Degani of Venice.
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