Playing a piece that’s been written for you is a rare opportunity, and all the more if it was written by one of the most frequently programmed contemporary composers in the country. That’s the situation for cellist Joshua Roman, who premiered (and has since played in several cities) the Cello Concerto by Mason Bates. A performance he gave with Berkeley Symphony this January is going to be on Sunday night’s Bay Area Mix.
There’s more information about the program at our Bay Area Mix page.
Their collaboration has gone back almost a decade, crossing paths, and playing informally. “This piece was something that Mason and I talked about for a long time before it came to fruition,” Roman says. “We’ve enjoyed working together in a number of different ways, and to have the concerto getting out there is not only exciting in terms of the concerto itself, but also that it’s one of the first times I’ve been able to sink so deeply into a piece of new music.” And he’s likely to have more opportunities to return to it, since Bates is a favorite of orchestras around the country. “I get to play it over and over again. That happens with Dvorak Concerto, and with the Haydn Concertos, or Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations. Where after I’ve played them 15 times, 16 times, it starts to feel incredibly comfortable, and you really get to start to explore and try new things. And that’s happening with Mason’s piece.” The performance you can hear on Sunday was guest conducted by Christian Reif, filling in for Joana Carneiro, who was soon to deliver triplets. Also on the program will be the choir Cappella SF singing Autumn Landscapes by Estonian composer Veljo Tormis, and Daniel Hope with the New Century Chamber Orchestra playing Mendelssohn’s D Minor Violin Concerto.