Cellist Joshua Roman Performs World Premiere of Mason Bates’s Cello Concerto with Seattle Symphony
“A cellist of extraordinary technical and musical gifts.” — San Francisco Chronicle
Joshua Roman will take the solo role in the world premiere of Mason Bates’s Cello Concerto on December 11-13 with the Seattle Symphony under Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla. Roman – “a cellist of bold character and poetic grace… who brings curiosity and electrical energy to every note,” according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer – has long been a star in Seattle. He served for two seasons as the principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony, being named to the post at age the of 22 in 2006; now a New Yorker pursuing a solo career, he continues his connection with the city in his eighth season as artistic director of the popular TownMusic chamber music series at Seattle’s Town Hall. The cellist will also perform the new Bates concerto, a Seattle Symphony co-commission along with the Columbus Symphony in Ohio and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, with the Columbus Symphony under Rossen Milanov on January 30-31, with further performances planned for next season.
Roman first worked with Bates when performing a piece by the composer with the Seattle Chamber Players in 2008. The two were also guest artists at the first YouTube Symphony Orchestra concert at Carnegie Hall in 2009, where Roman performed the Sarabande from J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G major for solo cello. During the same time period, Roman and Bates performed together at the downtown New York club Le Poisson Rouge, where they played an improvisation based on Ligeti’s Solo Cello Sonata, with Bates joining in on electronics. Click here to watch a video of that performance.
Of Bates’s 25-minute work, Roman says: “Like a lot of Mason’s music, the Cello Concerto has a fresh sound, as well as a distinctly American character with its sense of modernism, openness and optimism. It has a lyrical feel, with all these beautiful little touches like glissandi that make it fun to play. There’s a blues influence in the harmonies, but you can also hear his experience with electronic music in the score, as there’s a feeling of pulse in the rhythms, a driving beat. And the openness in his harmonies reflects the openness of his personality as a musician. He’s exploratory and optimistic, open to collaboration and to possibilities.”
Roman’s activities on YouTube have given him a wide audience. He recently completed “The Popper Project,” a three-year video series on YouTube of unedited performances of etudes from David Popper’s The High School of Cello Playing that has drawn hundreds of thousands of views. He is currently at work on the popular “Everyday Bach” YouTube series, which showcases self-produced videos of the 36 movements from J. S. Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Cello performed in a variety of evocative spaces around the world. He performed the Gigue from Suite No. 1 at the Port of Stockton, CA, combining the optimistic movement with an iconic view from a city recovering from recent hardship. Roman played the Sarabande from Suite No. 4 by the ocean in La Jolla, CA, the last notes dying away as the sun set over the horizon. He most recently filmed himself playing the Prelude from Suite No. 3 in view of the new Freedom Tower in downtown Manhattan, the building suiting the “architectural” qualities of the music, according to the cellist.
About the “Everyday Bach” series, Roman says: “It’s an exploration of context and how it changes or underscores the meaning of music. It’s journey for me, and I may film some of the movements more than once, in different places. … YouTube has an appeal in that it’s this simple, free mode of dissemination of projects that otherwise would have a hard time getting out there. Simple and free – that’s pretty powerful for people.”
About Joshua Roman
Cellist Joshua Roman, a 2011 TED Fellow, has earned a national reputation for performing a wide range of repertoire with absolute commitment to communicating the essence of the music at its most organic level. He’s also recognized as an accomplished curator and composer, 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. Recent highlights include concerto performances with the symphonies of San Francisco and Seattle and the LA Philharmonic, the world premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’s new cello concerto Dreamsongs, recitals and chamber music concerts with top U.S. presenters and festivals, and collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma and Anna Deavere Smith.
Mason Bates: Cello Concerto (world premiere)
Seattle Symphony Orchestra; Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, conductor
San Francisco, CA
SF JAZZ Center
Lera Auerbach: Trio No. 3
With Daniel Hope, violin; Lera Auerbach, piano
Tulsa Community College / Van Trease PACE
Dvorák: Cello Concerto
Signature Symphony; Michael Rossi, conductor
Jan 30 & 31
Mason Bates: Cello Concerto
Columbus Symphony; Rossen Milanov, conductor
Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center
Cello + Chocolate: a partnership with Vosges Haut Chocolat
Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra