Cellist Joshua Roman plays a concerto that was written for him by Mason Bates with Berkeley Symphony this Thursday evening. The concert will be led by guest conductor Christian Reif, and also includes a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4. The concerto had its premiere in December of 2014 with the Seattle Symphony, where Roman had been appointed as principal cello at the age of 22.
You can find out more at the Berkeley Symphony website.
Roman says the piece was a long time in the making. “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.” Roman, who has in recent years been composing works himself, knows one of the real perks of having a piece tailor made for him by Mason Bates is how frequently the composer is programmed by 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.” He’s performing it around the country in the next few months, including Spokane and Memphis. “It’s artistically rewarding – it’s a great piece that I get more out of every time I play, and it’s very exciting to be introduced to these communities in that way as well, and show a powerful piece that represents the tradition we come from, but also where we are right now. To be a part of that is an honor, and the fact that it’s Mason, who’s a close friend makes it all the better.” Bates and Roman give more background about the piece and its premiere in this video from the Seattle Symphony: