TownMusic, Town Hall’s classical music series which begins Sept 17 with Jun Iwasaki and Grace Fong, found a good thing in Joshua Roman: a young artistic director whose main concern in life is moving forward—and taking along any audience willing to share the ride.
When I first interviewed the now 25-year-old artist back in late 2007, Roman was still the Seattle Symphony’s principal cellist and so omnipresent in the city that he’d even graced the cover of a Butch Blum catalogue. Finding him content with an empty apartment was, well, a little odd. Who uses a yoga mat for a bed?
After hanging out with him for about a week, though, even the apartment began to feel extravagant. Roman lives by, through, and with his music. As that music increases in depth and breadth, anything else—like, say, furniture—just gets in the way.
Nearly two years later, he’s relocated to New York but has spent little time there because he’s been busy performing in Canada, Switzerland, Japan, Germany and Peru. The constant motion actually helped him to focus. “It’s given me a chance to step back and reflect on what I want to do,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to play the big concertos and play Bach and have recitals. And I play Bach every day for myself. But it’s also important for me to continually take on fresh ideas that help expand a musical palette.”
That means good things for TownMusic, whose latest series Roman programmed in a manner that matches his personal growth. “My goal is to show the relationships between different pieces of music and the different ways that you can connect music,” he says. “This season is filled with musicians who can play anything with confidence. Brooklyn Rider wrote one of their pieces and they’re playing something by Debussy. And Helen Huang and I are premiering a piece in June but also doing some Beethoven and Brahms. You don’t have to hear all Romantic or all Baroque—we’re focusing on having it all right in front of you at every concert.”
I’m happy that Town Hall provides a place to sit and be challenged, moved, and entertained. I’m not sure Mr. Roman would remember that the rest of us need chairs.