Q&A with cellist JOSHUA ROMAN

Joshua Roman
21C Media Group

From 21C Media Group

Often hailed as a “classical rock star” and a YouTube celebrity, 26-year-old cellist Joshua Roman is currently enjoying a season of debuts as soloist with orchestras across the U.S. Artistic director of the innovative TownMusic chamber music series in Seattle, his wide-ranging interests take him from concert halls to clubs and classrooms, playing classical, jazz, rock, new music and solo suites by Bach. We recently asked Joshua about a few of his favorite things.

Q:  What are a few works of classical music that you adore?
A:  Not a fair question! There are so many... Fauré's Requiem, Dvorak's Cello Concerto, Lutoslawski's Cello Concerto…
Q: Which classical music recordings do you treasure? 
A:  Walter Gieseking playing anything by Ravel, especially Le Tombeau de Couperin. Rachmaninoff performing his own concertos and also Chopin’s Funeral March Sonata. Sir Roger Norrington’s Beethoven Symphonies, especially 4 and 7.  Karajan and the Brahms Symphonies. Verdi Requiem with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic. Jascha Heifetz and William Primrose doing Handel-Halvorsen's Passacaglia. Emanuel Feuermann's complete recordings. The Dharma at Big Sur by John Adams, and also Shaker Loops.

Q:  Who are some of your favorite non-classical musicians and recordings?
A:  Radiohead: In Rainbows, OK Computer, Kid A.  Appalachia Waltz with Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O'Connor and Edgar Meyer.  Most anything by the Beatles.  Jimi Hendrix.  Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  Amon Tobin: Permutations and Foley Room.  Cabaret Voltaire: The Conversation.  Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain and Porgy & Bess (Summertime!).  Nine Inch Nails: The Fragile.

Q.  What piece of music makes you cry?
 A: Bach’s St. Matthew's Passion

Q.  What are some underrated works or composers?
A:  Benjamin Britten for sure. William Walton's Cello Concerto is also underrated. The fact that J.S. Bach's Solo Cello Suites are not played every day is a crying shame...
Q:  Which composers and works are overrated?
A:  There might be some works that are overplayed on the radio, but I don't know about overrated. Seems like they get played too often because they are so good.

Q:  What are some live music performances you have attended – any genre – that you will never forget:
A:  The Berlin Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall playing Brahms First Symphony and the Schoenberg arrangement of the Brahms G minor piano quartet.  A U2 concert in Cleveland at Gund Arena in 2005.  Wow... amazing power.  The Cleveland Orchestra playing Messiaen's Turangalîla Symphony. Gil Shaham doing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in Memphis. Yo-Yo Ma playing Haydn’s D major concerto in Germantown, Tennessee. The Electric Six in Cleveland.

Q:  What are a few relatively recent films you love?
A:  Love is a strong word. I liked Inglorious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino, Up (Disney-Pixar), The Dark Knight, Iron Man, STAR TREK!

Q:  What are a few films you consider classics?
A: Schindler's List, Psycho, Notorious, anything by Alfred Hitchcock or Stanley Kubrick, Lawrence of Arabia, Lord of the Rings, Scarface, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill vol. 1 and 2, Fight Club, Rocky, Citizen Kane, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Rostropovich Returns to Russia ;)

Q: Name a book or two that is important to you.
A: Siddhartha. I love this story of self-discovery. The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama is another book that I love to put into practice.

Q:  What is something about yourself that you’re proud of?
A:  I've always been able to touch my toes.     

Q: What is something about yourself that you’re embarrassed by?
A:  My unfulfilled quest for a tan every summer...

Q:  Name three things you can’t live without.
A: Love, Chocolate, Cello.

Q:  Finish this sentence: “When I want to get away from it all I…”
A:  …watch a movie or read a book.

Q:  “People are surprised to find out that I…”
A:  …am from Oklahoma.

Q:  “My favorite cities are…”
A:  Too numerous to list!

Q:  “I have a secret crush on…”
 A:  Yoda, he's so wise.

Q:  “My most obvious guilty pleasure is…”
A:   Chocolate…

Q:  “I’d really love to meet – or to have met…”
A:   His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein, Jesus, Emanuel Feuermann, Jascha Heifetz, J.S. Bach.

Q:  “I never understood why…”
A:  There aren't more concertos for the cello. It's such a great instrument and so communicative!