Appears on: Passion & Precision: Elgar's Cello Concerto
Joshua Roman is a cello soloist and composer, hailed for his “effortlessly expressive tone… and playful zest for exploration” (New York Times), as well as his “extraordinary technical and musical gifts” and “blend of precision and almost improvisatory freedom… that goes straight to the heart” (San Francisco Chronicle). His genre-bending programs and wide- ranging collaborations have grown out of an “enthusiasm for musical evolution that is as contagious as his love for the classics” (Seattle Times).
Committed to bringing Classical music to new audiences, Roman opened the acclaimed 2017 TED Conference, and his performance of the complete Bach Solo Cello Suites after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election was the most-viewed event in the history of TED’s social channels, with nearly a million live viewers. Roman has collaborated with world-class artists across genres and disciplines, including Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, dj Spooky, Tony-winner/ MacArthur Genius Bill T. Jones, Grammy Award-winning East African vocalist Somi, and Tony Award-nominated actor Anna Deavere Smith.
As a soloist, Roman’s “exceptionally high quality of performances” (LA Times) combines “the expressive control of Casals with the creative individuality and virtuoso flair of Hendrix himself” (Gramophone). He has performed with leading orchestras around the United States and the world, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony, Toronto Symphony, BBC Scottish, and Mariinsky Symphony Orchestra, and he was principal cellist at Seattle Symphony from age 22 to 24. Roman’s 2022–23 season highlights include his debut with the St. Louis Symphony, recitals with the Cliburn and Princeton University Concerts, and a performance of Tavener’s The Protecting Veil at The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. For the 2023–24 season, Roman will continue as Las Vegas Philharmonic’s inaugural Artist In Residence, and will perform as a soloist with the Detroit, Oregon, Monterey, Vermont, and Greenville Symphonies. His ongoing trio project with Edgar Meyer and Tessa Lark will also have a performance at the acclaimed Big Ears Festival.
Roman has long been a leader and innovator in his use of digital and social media, with projects like his Popper Etude videos amassing nearly 2 million views. His solo performance with the YouTube Symphony at Carnegie Hall was viewed by 33 million people across nearly 200 countries, with Yo-Yo Ma introducing him as “one of the great exemplars of the ideal 21st century musician.”
As a composer, he has been commissioned by Music Academy of the West, Illinois Philharmonic, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Girls Chorus, Grace Cathedral, and more, and he has written for the JACK Quartet, violinist Vadim Gluzman, and conductor David Danzmayr. Equally accomplished as an interpreter of the music of other contemporary composers, Roman has premiered works by Mason Bates, Reena Esmail, Timo Andres, Gabriela Lena Frank, Aaron Jay Kernis, Lisa Bielawa, and others. Roman also curated a forward-looking chamber music series at Town Hall in Seattle for 15 years, presenting artists like Jennifer Koh, JACK Quartet, Sō Percussion, and more.
A native of Oklahoma City, Roman began playing the cello at the age of three on a quarter-size instrument, and gave his first public recital at age ten. He went on to pursue his musical studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with Richard Aaron and Desmond Hoebig, former principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra. Roman is grateful for the loan of an 1899 cello by Giulio Degani of Venice.