Cellist Joshua Roman returns to Oklahoma for gig with Tulsa's

Joshua Roman
The Journal Record

By Kirby Lee Davis

From their astronauts to their athletes, Oklahomans often swell in pride over their world-conquering native sons and daughters.

One rising star little known in his homeland will soon return for his first professional performance in the Sooner state.

In just four years, Joshua Roman sparked widespread international acclaim for the creative voice he draws from his cello, an 1899 prize on loan from Giulio Degani of Venice. Roman graduated from the esteemed Cleveland Institute of Music to win the principal cellist chair at the Seattle Symphony in 2006. He held that position just two years before launching a solo career, one that has taken the 26- year-old prodigy across the U.S. and much of the globe.

"It's rarely done, but he's a very rare player," said G. Barry Epperley, artistic director and conductor of Tulsa's Signature Symphony.

His orchestra will host Roman for a Feb. 27 performance of Miklos Rozsa's Cello Concerto, one week after Roman's three-concert appearance with the San Francisco Symphony.

"He's such an unusual player," said Epperley. "Joshua has that excitement in his tone. A lot of people can play the notes, but his delivery ... it's an intensity, it's an excitement, and he's willing to pretty much tackle anything, and he tackles it well."

Epperley considers going solo a gutsy act by the young performer, especially in a recession that's put many orchestras against financial ropes. But with his growing demand for appearances, Roman saw leaving the Seattle Symphony a necessity.

Now that he's reached his childhood dream, Joshua hopes his solo career carries him around the world as an ambassador of the cello. He hopes to bridge that into some humanitarian efforts as well.

"I hope to take my music as many places as I can, to deliver powerful message through the cello," he said. "I've always felt I have to do something with the cello. I love the cello."

Epperley sees Joshua Roman possibly filling the shoes of cello superstar Yo-Yo Ma.

"If you look around the world, there are 10 to 15 major artists who are in that position, some as young as 17 and some who are still new to the world as old as 28 or so, but they're kind of viewed as that next group, the next level that will come into their own," said Epperley. "And Josh is one of them. He's obviously coming into his own."