October 26, 2015

Alum is Composer and Soloist at Premiere of His Own Concerto with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra

How an Alum Brought Western Classical Music (and a lot of Clevelanders) to the Eastern World

Cellist Joshua Roman (BM’04/MM’05, Hoebig, Aaron) has made a career out of composing and performing around the globe and on October 17, he was soloist for the premiere of his self-composed cello concerto Awakening with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra for its opening night. The Chicago Tribune published two previews leading up to the premiere, interviewing Roman and calling the debut “extra special for the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.”

In an earlier Tribune preview of the opening performance, the author remarked on Roman’s revival of the once commonplace idea of the composer/virtuoso.  “Active as a solo cellist since he gave up the principal cello chair at the Seattle Symphony in 2008, Roman devotes the rest of his energies to composing works for his own use, as well as other musicians.”

Roman told the Tribune that Awakening “loosely evokes the love affair, it’s also as much about realizing that sometimes you just have to let go and surrender to the flow of life. The cello represents the protagonist. The orchestra sometimes represents the world as it is, sometimes the other person in the relationship: Love song, fight song, a song of despair and a moment of apotheosis.”

Defying trends is a big part of Roman’s m.o. His YouTube channel, which boasts more than 600,000 views,  houses projects such as “Everyday Bach” in which the cellist performs movements of Bach's Six Suites for Solo Cello in front of dazzlingly beautiful backdrops around the world and the “Popper Project,” a series of videos of Roman playing one Popper Étude per week. From Ted Talks to collaborations with “DJ Spooky,” Roman continues to pave his own way in the musical world.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune.