Cellist Joshua Roman on Classical 101 Friday morning

The press has dubbed cellist Joshua Roman a “Classical Rock Star.”  

He, like most musicians, would probably dismiss that description as hyperbole.  Although he did play a TED conference in a formal looking black shirt while rocking some blue jeans.  On the other hand, he might not be quite so quick to downplay the comments of Yo Yo Ma, who called Roman a “fearless explorer of our world and one of the “great exemplars of the ideal 20th century musician.”

What that seems to mean is that, like many other young musicians, Joshua is unwilling to accept the limitations and categorization which has plagued classical music for so many years.  

He spent two years as principal cello for the Seattle Symphony, but it seems he felt he needed to do more.  He is currently artistic director of TownMusic, an experimental chamber music series at Town Hall in Seattle, which one evening finds soprano Ellen Hargis singing Italian Baroque opera highlights, Kočani Orkestar playing Balkan brass-band style music found across the former Yugoslavia another, and Josh with a hand picked cello ensemble performing his arrangement of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven the next.

In other words, don’t fence him in, as someone once said.

In a recent conversation with Audrey Watkins, who was one of three Central Ohio musicians performing in a recent From The Top taping in New Albany, I asked her what it would take to get more kids interested in listening to classical music.  Bringing in someone who’s young and cool to play classical music was the essence of her reply. In other words, someone like Roman.

Roman returns to Columbus this week for his second engagement with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. Still under the age of 30 and appointed a TED Fellow in 2011, Josh will be joining me in-studio Friday at 9am for some lively discussion and playing.

For sure you’ll want to hear about the world premiere of a new cello concerto written for him and ProMusica by Pulitzer Prize-winner Aaron Jay Kernis, in celebration of Timothy Russell’s career as Music Director of ProMusica.  Then plan to see him perform with ProMusica this Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 7pm at the Southern Theatre.

Comments