Joshua Roman has earned an international reputation for his wide-ranging repertoire, a commitment to communicating the essence of music in visionary ways, artistic leadership and versatility. As well as being a celebrated performer, he is recognized as an accomplished composer, curator, and programmer.
In a multifaceted 2015-16 season, Roman will premiere his own Cello Concerto with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, and subsequently perform it with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. In April 2016, he begins a residency with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, as part of which he will perform the Mason Bates Cello Concerto. Roman premiered this work with Seattle Symphony in 2014, and will perform it with various orchestras throughout the 2015-16 season. He will pursue his artistic vision both as Artistic Director of TownMusic at Town Hall Seattle and as Artistic Advisor of Seattle’s Second Inversion. His plans for TownMusic include a presentation of his own song cycle, … we do it to one another, based on Tracy K. Smith’s book of poems “Life on Mars,” with soprano Jessica Rivera. He also continues to perform classics of the repertoire, and in February makes his debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra playing Dvorák’s beloved Cello Concerto.
Highlights of recent seasons have included a solo performance on the TED2015 main stage, performances with the Columbus Symphony, a program of chamber works by Lera Auerbach at San Francisco Performances with Auerbach and violinist Philippe Quint, and appearances with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Tucson Symphony, Moscow State Symphony Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He premiered Dreamsongs, a cello concerto written for him by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, and had two of his own compositions premiered in Washington, DC and Seattle. He also served as Alumnus-in-Residence at the prestigious Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.
Roman has demonstrated inspirational artistic leadership throughout his career. As Artistic Director of TownMusic in Seattle he has showcased his own eclectic musical influences and chamber music favorites, as well as promoting newly commissioned works. Under his direction, the series has offered world premieres of compositions by some of today’s brightest young composers, and performances by cutting-edge ensembles. He has also recently been appointed the inaugural Artistic Advisor of award-winning contemporary streaming channel Second Inversion, launched by Seattle’s KING-FM to cultivate the next generation of classical audiences.
Roman’s cultural leadership includes using digital platforms to harness new audiences. In 2009 he developed “The Popper Project,” performing, recording and uploading the complete etudes from David Popper’s High School of Cello Playing to his dedicated YouTube channel. In his latest YouTube project, “Everyday Bach,” Roman performs Bach’s cello suites in beautiful settings around the world. He has collaborated with photographer Chase Jarvis on Nikon video projects, and Paste magazine singled out Roman and DJ Spooky for their cello and iPad cover of Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place,” created for the Voice Project. For his creative initiatives on behalf of classical music, Roman was named a 2011 TED Fellow, joining a select group of next generation innovators who show potential to positively affect the world.
Beyond these initiatives, Roman’s adventurous spirit has led to collaborations with artists outside the music community, including his co-creation of “On Grace” with Tony Award-nominated actress Anna Deavere Smith, a work for actor and cello which premiered in February 2012 at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. His 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.
Before embarking on a solo career, Roman spent two seasons as principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony, a position he won in 2006 at the age of 22. Since that time he has appeared as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, Mariinsky Orchestra, Alabama Symphony, and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del Ecuador, among many others. An active chamber musician, Roman has collaborated with established artists such as Andrius Zlabys, Cho-Liang Lin, Assad Brothers, Earl Carlyss, Christian Zacharias and Yo-Yo Ma, as well as other dynamic young soloists and performers from New York’s vibrant music scene, including the JACK Quartet, Talea Ensemble, Derek Bermel, the Enso String Quartet and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
A native of Oklahoma City, Roman began playing the cello at the age of three on a quarter-size instrument, and gave his first public recital at age ten. Home-schooled until he was 16, he then pursued his musical studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Richard Aaron. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Cello Performance in 2004, and his Master’s in 2005, as a student of Desmond Hoebig, former principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra. Roman is grateful for the loan of an 1899 cello by Giulio Degani of Venice.