On Heels of "World-Class" Premiere of Bates's Cello Concerto, Joshua Roman Named First Artistic Advisor of Second Inversion

03.31.15
Joshua Roman
21C Media Group

It was announced last night that American cellist Joshua Roman has been named as the inaugural Artistic Advisor of Second Inversion, the award-winning new contemporary streaming channel, dedicated to rethinking classical music, that was launched by Seattle’s KING-FM to inspire, engage, cultivate, and connect the next generation of classical audiences. News of the appointment comes on the heels of Roman’s “world-class world premiere” (Seattle Times) of Mason Bates’s new cello concerto with the Seattle Symphony; a video about his collaboration with the composer can be seen here.

First Artistic Advisor of Second Inversion

When it came to selecting Second Inversion’s Artistic Advisor, Roman was the natural first choice. Now in his eighth season as artistic director of the popular TownMusic chamber series at Seattle’s Town Hall, the cellist has repeatedly been dubbed a “classical rock star,” and is considered by Yo-Yo Ma as “one of the great exemplars of the ideal 21st-century musician.” As Maggie Stapleton, Assistant Program Director at KING-FM and manager of all of Second Inversion’s programming and platforms, put it:

“Joshua Roman lives and breathes Second Inversion’s mantra of ‘Rethink Classical.’ Joshua is a perfect fit to be Artistic Advisor to Second Inversion because of his advocacy and passion for new music, innovative execution of rethinking classical, and desire to share this music not only in Seattle but all over the world.”

In the new appointment, Roman will work with KING-FM to help shape the vision of Second Inversion, serving as a prominent on-air voice of the channel as well as contributing bi-monthly blog posts and more. He elaborates:

“I am thrilled to join the energetic and endlessly creative team at Second Inversion and KING-FM.  Together we will help share the journey of musical exploration in the 21st century with a wide and engaged audience, and challenge long-held notions of the role of performers, presenters and audience.  I’ll be hosting music on the stream, contributing to the blog at secondinversion.org, initiating video projects in Seattle and around the country, sharing my performance recordings from around the country, and collaborating with the programming team on the vision of the project.”

 

Since its launch last May, the channel has already won recognition at the 5th annual RAIN Internet Radio Awards, where KING-FM tied for “Best Streaming Broadcast Station” and Maggie Stapleton was honored in “Audio’s 30 Under 30” category. 

Acclaim for world premiere performance of Mason Bates’s concerto

A former principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony, Roman returned to the orchestra in December as guest soloist in the world premiere of Mason Bates’s Cello Concerto. His performance scored a hit with both the audience and the press. San Francisco Classical Voice reported: “There was plenty of electricity on stage. …Roman has had a close connection with Bates for some years, and the two think alike about fusing different types of music into a new and compelling style.” As a result, the cellist succeeded in giving “a world-class world premiere”; as the Seattle Times described,

“Roman played the complicated solo part of this 25-minute work without a score, sounding perfectly at ease with the brand-new music. … Attractive and tonal, featuring a first-rate soloist, this was a premiere that an audience could really appreciate, and the standing ovation was so enthusiastic that Roman finally returned for a solo encore.”

Furthermore, in “its elegant, understated simplicity,” the cellist’s encore – the Prelude from Bach’s First Cello Suite – “was a reminder – if one were needed – that Roman hasn’t forgotten the classics.”

New installment from Sri Lanka in “Everyday Bach” YouTube series

Roman’s activities on YouTube have grown him a wide audience. Having recently completed “The Popper Project,” 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 locations around the world. The newest of these was filmed while he was in Colombo, Sri Lanka, performing two concerts with violinist Mandhira de Saram and pianist Ramya de Livera Perera to benefit the Sunera Foundation, which strives to integrate those living with disability into Sri Lankan society. Filmed outdoors, early in the morning in Colombo’s Independence Square, Roman’s performance of the Prelude from Bach’s First Cello Suite may be seen here. As the cellist explains, the “Everyday Bach” series represents “an exploration of context and how it changes or underscores the meaning of music. It’s a journey for me.”

Spring lineup: concertos by Haydn & Dvorák, and solo recital

A 2011 TED Fellow, Roman returned to Bach earlier this month when he played the First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello on TED’s mainstage to open the TED2015 presentation “Out of This World.” The following day, he joined legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones and singer/songwriter Somi for an improvisational collaboration as part of the presentation “Truth or Dare.” Spring also sees him undertake two masterworks of the orchestral cello literature, joining the Tucson Symphony for Haydn’s First (April 10 & 12), and the Des Moines Symphony for Dvorák (April 18 & 19). It was one of his previous accounts of Dvorák’s masterpiece that prompted Cleveland Classical to marvel:

“There must be an old soul behind Roman’s boyish countenance, for he played as if at one with the passionate heart of Dvorák himself. … Whether in soaring legato mode or in his crisp arpeggiations replete with thrilling instrumental effects, Roman’s technique was so breathtaking that he often appeared to visibly swoon over the music’s dramatic sweep, its melodic eloquence and lush harmonic colors.”

To round out the spring, Roman gives a solo recital at Washington’s Bellingham Festival (April 24), highlighted by a reprise of Riding Light, his own work for solo cello, whose “pop rhythms …, interesting harmonic shades, and pleasant melodic lines” impressed San Francisco Classical Voice at its 2013 premiere.