“A cellist of extraordinary technical and musical gifts” (San Francisco Chronicle), Joshua Roman has earned national renown for performing a wide-ranging repertoire with an absolute commitment to communicating the essence of the music at its most organic level. He is also recognized as an accomplished composer, 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.
The 2013-14 season began in July when Roman was the inaugural Alumnus-in-Residence at the prestigious Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. In the fall, Roman gave the San Francisco premiere of Dreamsongs, a new cello concerto written for Roman by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. Other highlights include concerto performances with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and recitals in Napa, CA, Coral Gables, FL, Los Alamos, NM, and Seattle. As a composer, two new Roman works receive world premieres this season, one in Washington, D.C., by the Verge Ensemble, and the other in Seattle as part of 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 offered world premieres of compositions by some of today’s brightest young composers and performances by cutting-edge ensembles. The 2013-14 TownMusic season features concerts by Roomful of Teeth, Enso String Quartet, violinist Karen Gomyo, Latin jazz pianist Pablo Ziegler and soprano Mary Mackenzie, and world premieres of works by Raymond Lustig, Amir Shpilman, Wang Jie, and Roman himself. Beyond TownMusic, Roman’s adventurous spirit has led to collaborations with artists outside of the music community, including his co-creation of “On Grace” with Anna Deavere Smith, a work for actor and cello featuring original music composed by Roman, which premiered in February 2012 at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral and is now performed around the country. The two artists will be in residence at the University of Chicago in January 2014.
Beyond the performance stage, Roman is dedicated to exploring emerging platforms to harness new audiences, in particular social media. He recently completed an ongoing video series called “The Popper Project,” where the cellist performed, recorded and uploaded the complete David Popper’s High School of Cello Playing to his dedicated YouTube channel (youtube.com/joshuaromancello). His newest YouTube project, “Everyday Bach,” features Roman performing Bach’s cello suites from 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. 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.
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, the Seattle Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the BBC Scottish Symphony, the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, the New World Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del Ecuador, among many others. An active chamber music performer, Roman has collaborated with veterans like Cho-Liang Lin, the Assad Brothers, Earl Carlyss, Christopher Taylor, Christian Zacharias, and other dynamic young soloists and performers from New York’s vibrant music scene, including the JACK Quartet, artists from So Percussion, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two. 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.
Oklahoma City native Roman began playing the cello at the age of three on a quarter-size instrument, and gave his first public recital at age 10. 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.