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Joshua Roman

About this Artist

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. The San Francisco Chronicle hailed Roman as “a cellist of extraordinary technical and musical gifts” following his 2010 debut with the San Francisco Symphony under Herbert Blomstedt. 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 with the potential to positively affect the world.  

In the 2011/12 season Roman was a guest artist for the Seattle Symphony’s opening night gala, which marked Ludovic Morlot’s first concert as Music Director. He made his Toronto Symphony debut, performed at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, and was presented in recital by San Francisco Performances and on 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. 

Among the highlights of the previous season, Roman performed duos with Yo-Yo Ma at a State Department event hosted by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden for the President of China, participated in the 2011 TED Conference in Long Beach, and played at the Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway. He made his debut as soloist and conductor with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris at the Cité de la Musique in Paris, and appeared with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. Summer engagements included debuts at the Caramoor International Music Festival and La Jolla Summerfest.

Before embarking on a solo career, Roman was for two seasons 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 Seattle 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.

In spring 2007, Roman was named Artistic Director of TownMusic in Seattle, where he creates programs that feature new works and reflect his eclectic musical influences and inspirations. TownMusic’s 2011/12 season offerings featured Roman in the complete Bach Cello Suites, performances by Brooklyn Rider and Alarm Will Sound, and a commission for composer Mason Bates. 

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, Derek Bermel, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Dan Visconti. 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. One of Roman’s ongoing undertakings is an online video series called “The Popper Project”: wherever the cellist and his laptop find themselves, he performs an etude 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. 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.

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.