The early stages of Joshua Roman groupie-dom

The first time I saw the Seattle Symphony's new principal cellist Joshua Roman, it was at a subscription performance of Mahler's Seventh Symphony in June 2006, shortly after the then-22-year-old took the principal's seat from the retiring Raymond Davis. We noticed that there was a new face in the orchestra, and wondered afterwards, "Who was that floppy-haired kid?" Well, we now know who that floppy-haired kid is, and he's taking Seattle by storm.

Our symphony group's seats this season are up close, and it's such a pleasure watching Joshua Roman play, seeing him check in with the other string principals periodically, clearly enjoying himself the entire time.

While flipping through the program during the intermission of John Lill's Beethoven piano concerto cycle, one of our group's members saw that the cellist was participating in a performance of the Brahms Quintet, and our nascent Joshua Roman groupie-dom kicked in. We ordered tickets straight away.

The recital opened with Christian Zacharias performing Schumann's Kinderszenen (a lovely little set of vignettes), followed by the string players performing Haydn's String Quartet Op. 20, No. 4, and concluded with their combined forces on the Brahms Quintet. It was great to see all the musicians playing with obvious enjoyment. The second violin has long rests in the Brahms, and Stephen Bryant just tucked his violin under his arm and smiled blissfully as he swayed to the music. (One thing I noticed is that Zacharias played with more rubato than the quartet was expecting, and things fell out of sync every so often in the first movement.)

We thought that perhaps we were the only people who were Joshua Roman groupie-wannabes, but no, we've got plenty of company. His first solo recital in Seattle was sold out, with a line for tickets that led out the building and down the street. Those that managed to score tickets loved it. Not a bad start.

But I saw him first.

Nitpicker's corner

I didn't literally see him first. It was a joke.

(Bonus: Joshua Roman interview on KUOW last week, begins at timecode 14:00.)

Comments (6)
  1. David Brooks says:

    I remember that Mahler 7, and I too was just astonished to see the confidence with which he was already leading the section and responding to the performance as it unfolded. I spoke to a member of the section the following week; he said he was wowed by the kid too, and nobody in the section seemed to resent being led by someone so young. Just amazing.

  2. Larry Lard says:

    "Nitpicker’s corner" gets funnier every day!

    Nitpicker’s corner: rhetorical device, not intended to imply strictly monotonically increasing funniness.

  3. HB says:

    He’s indeed easy to notice. Another difficult to miss is the ZZ Top guy.

    Did you see the triple concerto? Boy was it difficult to not be distracted by the solo cellist. Our seats are very close up (row C) and it was just too much.

  4. Tux says:

    Dude, you should totally check out an anime (I know, I know…) called Nodame Cantabile, it’s all about aspiring conductors and cellists and orchestras and music and stuff. Plus the soundtrack is all classical music, and it’s funny as hell.

    Try it, you won’t regret it.

  5. JamesNT says:


    I for one and very disappointed that a nitpicker’s corner has to exist on this blog.  It only goes to show that there are too many stupid and pathetic slashdotters running around who would rather run amok with useless details than activitly contribute something worthwhile to the discussion.


  6. Ifeanyi Echeruo says:

    There always is the option of stepping in and ‘educating’ nitpickers on Raymonds behalf.

    But then of course the chaos of freedom without order will ensue.

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