The Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra welcomes cellist/composer Joshua Roman Friday, Oct. 23, for the second concert of its all-virtual season. In September, the orchestra presented its season debut featuring the Metropolitan Opera star Lawrence Brownlee to great acclaim. Roman is equally admired worldwide.
At age 22, Joshua won the job as Principal Cellist of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra -an unprecedented accomplishment – only to leave the position two years later to pursue a different path. Roman has performed with every major orchestra on every continent, also collaborating on chamber music and presenting solo recitals.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Roman is that he also composes music and is known for performing unconventional music in unconventional venues with unconventional artists.
Take, for instance, his improvisational performance with Tony-winner/MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Bill T. Jones and East African vocalist Somi for a Mainstage TED talk (in 2015 he was named a Senior TED Fellow), or his collaboration with DJ Spooky in a cover of Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place.”
Roman comments, “I’ve always explored what it is to be a cellist in every context. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, were, in reality, part of a very active musical world. They made music for their time and were all performers – often more famous as performers than as composers. I like to think that by writing my own music and by engaging with musicians from many other styles, I’m actually living the tradition of the great composers who came before me and, in that way, becoming even closer to their music.”
On Friday’s program are three world premieres of Roman’s, composed during the pandemic – part of a larger group of compositions he’s titled “Musical Journal.”
Traditionalists will also have their itch scratched – works by Bach, Grieg, and Massenet are also part of the concert. A special highlight will be Joshua performing Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos with TSO Principal Cellist Gregory Sauer, who was Joahua’s high school teacher in Oklahoma, where Roman was raised. It is a special connection that will shine through in their dynamic performance.
“This program is one of the most interesting and exciting programs the TSO has produced in the 10 years I have worked for the organization,” CEO Mandy Stringer said. “Joshua is the real deal. He’s an absolutely phenomenal cellist, a beautiful composer, and a thoughtful, kind person. It has been an utter joy to have him here in Tallahassee.”