“A cellist of extraordinary technical and musical gifts” (San Francisco Chronicle), Joshua Roman has earned national renown as a cellist for performing a wide range of repertoire with an absolute commitment to communicating the essence of the music at its most organic level. He’s also recognized as an accomplished curator and programmer, particularly in his work as Artistic Director of Seattle Town Hall’s TownMusic series, with a vision to engage and expand the classical music audience. For his ongoing creative initiatives on behalf of classical music, Roman was named a 2011 TED Fellow, joining a select group of next generation innovators of unusual accomplishments who show potential to positively affect the world.
In the 2012/13 season, Roman makes his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut, performing Osvaldo Golijov’s Azul under conductor Marin Alsop. Other highlights include concerto performances with the New World Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, the Stockton Symphony, and the Asheville Symphony, and the world premiere of a new cello concerto by Pulitzer Prize-winner Aaron Jay Kernis with the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. Also this season, Roman gives recitals in Vancouver, Madison, Chicago, La Jolla, Denver, and Seattle at the TownMusic series.
A complete musician who is dedicated to performance, artistic leadership and creation of new works through collaboration, Roman’s work as Artistic Director of TownMusic in Seattle has showcased his eclectic musical influences and inspirations, from chamber music favorites to a host of newly commissioned works. Under Roman’s guidance, the series has given world premieres of compositions by some of today’s brightest young composers, such as Mason Bates, Derek Bermel, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Dan Visconti, among others, and it has featured cutting edge ensembles like Alarm Will Sound, Brooklyn Rider and the JACK Quartet. Roman’s adventurous spirit has led to collaborations with artists outside of the music community, including his co-creation “On Grace” with Anna Deveare Smith, a work for actor and cello which premiered in February 2012 at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral.
TownMusic’s 2012/13 season opens in September with a piano trio featuring Roman, violinist Dale Barltrop and pianist Victor Asuncion, followed in November by an evening of music and comedy with violinist Aleksey Igudesman and pianist Hyung-ki Joo. In February, violinist Jennifer Koh gives an overview of the history of violin music in a recital called “Bach and Beyond.” In the series’ final two concerts, Roman takes the stage with two acclaimed new music groups, first the Talea Ensemble and then the JACK Quartet, for a performance-specific commission by Jefferson Friedman.
Driven to make music accessible to a wider audience, Roman is at home in any place from a club to a classroom, performing chamber music, jazz, rock, or even a solo sonata by Bach or Kodály. Beyond the performance stage, Roman is dedicated to exploring new platforms to harness new audiences, especially social media. He recently completed an ongoing video series called “The Popper Project.” Wherever the cellist and his laptop found themselves, he performed and recorded an étude from David Popper’s “High School of Cello Playing” to be collected and uploaded to his dedicated YouTube channel. 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. 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.
Among last season’s highlights was Roman’s appearance as guest artist for the Seattle Symphony’s opening night gala, which marked Ludovic Morlot’s first concert as Music Director. Roman made his debuts with the Toronto and BBC Symphonies and at the Mariinsky Theater; performed at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament; and gave recitals through San Francisco Performances and in the Dame Myra Hess series in Chicago. He also played concertos with orchestras in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina and Oregon. Summer engagements included visits to La Jolla Summerfest and Music In The Vineyards in Napa Valley, CA.
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 soloist with the Symphony, where he gave the world premiere of David Stock’s Cello Concerto, as well as with the Albany and Santa Barbara Symphonies, and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del Ecuador, among many others. He performed Britten’s third Cello Suite during New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival in a pre-concert recital at Avery Fisher Hall, and was the only guest artist invited to play an unaccompanied solo during the YouTube Symphony Orchestra’s 2009 debut concert at Carnegie Hall.
In addition to his solo work, Roman is an active chamber music performer. He has enjoyed collaborations with veterans like Earl Carlyss, Christopher Taylor and Christian Zacharias, as well as with 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 vibrant music scene, including artists from So Percussion, the JACK Quartet and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two.
The Oklahoma City native 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, Roman 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. He is grateful for the loan of an 1899 cello by Giulio Degani of Venice.