Inspired by a unique collaboration for Princeton University Concert's new series Healing With Music, Immunity is an intimate musical exploration of cellist Joshua Roman’s life-altering, inspiring experience of ongoing long COVID, with music ranging from J.S. Bach to George Crumb to Caroline Shaw, as well as Roman’s own compositions. The program combines performance and storytelling into an emotional journey, as the cellist confronts the impact of the illness and the limitations that nearly ended his career, before progressing through a period of doubt, struggle, refocus, and renewal, culminating in a profound acceptance of self and a deeper connection to what's most important in life.
Roman has continued to perform despite the challenges long COVID has wrought on his life, tackling projects with violinist Tessa Lark and bassist Edgar Meyer as well as the concerto appearances which make up the bulk of his concert schedule (see this Dvořák Cello Concerto performance with Jader Bignamini and the Detroit Symphony one year into long COVID). In addition to a renewed sense of commitment to sharing music, the strong desire to bring art and life together in real time led him to the creation of this project. Over the next 2-3 years, Immunity will include an album, videos, collaborations, and concert / conversations in a variety of venues from traditional classical halls to living rooms and digital platforms. Immunity takes Roman's unique ability to connect with audiences of all kinds and melds it with his affinity for thoughtful curation that speaks to the moment, his articulate and easygoing stage presence, and his powerful virtuosity. Here's his performance of the Six Suites by J.S. Bach on TED's Facebook Page the week after the 2016 election, which reached 980,000 live viewers.
Below are excerpts from a TED talk and performance he gave speaking about his experience with long COVID, and another from a live collaborative improvisation with dancer Bill T. Jones and vocalist Somi.
Immunity will be flexible depending on audience, format, collaborators, and venue. The program will include:
Immunity will be recorded in Summer of 2023 for release as an album, with producer Adam Abeshouse. Adam has received multiple Grammys for his engineering and producing, and happens to also be going through his own long COVID experience. All costs associated with the production of the album will go through the Classical Recording Foundation and be eligible as tax-deductible gifts