by Joshua Roman
The holiday season is in full force, and that means trips to visit the family, gifts to purchase, and holiday jingles to exorcise from the ear with vigor. This year I am lucky to have already received a gift that will be hard to top: my professional debut with my hometown orchestra, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. There’s nothing quite like being able to invite your family and friends to come see you at work, and this was made all the more sweet by bringing the totally on fleek new concerto by Mason Bates. To top it off, the concert was the weekend before Thanksgiving, so I was able to spend a few extra days with my family out on the farm and catch up while eating the freshest food there is.
I’ve mentioned the Bates in a couple of posts before this one, and I’m really glad to have multiple performances of it this season. Hopefully we’ll have a recording out before too long, but in the meantime there are random opportunities to hear it. One such opportunity is tonight at 8pm CT, when the OKC Phil performance with Joel Levine conducting is broadcast on KUCO. Tune in to hear beautiful spun lines, swingin’ grooves and some “Phat” beats (one of my new favorite markings), and the damn sexy second movement. It’s a fun way to celebrate Beethoven’s (and my) birthday 😉
But back to being home: The last time I performed with the OKC Phil was more than 15 years ago. As a result of winning a local competition I performed the first movement of the Lalo Concerto. Thinking back to my perception of music and projections of where I would be in my career at this point, I don’t think I would have guessed things would turn out the way they have. It’s been a fun and wild ride, and along the way I’ve been lucky enough to be in situations that have constantly stretched me. Here I am, writing a blog, for example. And, among many other happy developments, my relationships with composers have grown incredibly important to me.
I feel incredibly supported by the family and friends who came out to see my return, and by the boost from the city. I’ve always wanted to have something to say when I came back, and there is nothing better than reinforcing the idea that classical music is alive. It is a tradition of creativity and innovation, and a piece like Mason’s really drives that home in a fresh and exciting way. My homecoming, in many ways, benefitted from happening this far along on my path, when I could truly bring something that did not exist before. I am proud to represent the broader classical musical community to my first community and to those I love at home.
Side note – it was amazing to hear the orchestra again after so long. I’m proud of the Phil and how they are playing, and hope to find ways to encourage the musical development that’s already happening in the area with an influx of good players and teachers.
Now the big question: what’s next? Balance it out, or tip the scales? We’ll see — either way I’m very happy to be reconnected with musicians I’ve looked up to and known since my youth. It feels in a way like coming full circle – bringing something new to those I’ve known the longest.
In what ways are you evolving artistically? What have to you done to reconnect and share with those who were there at the beginning? Please share in the comments below, or on my Facebook page.
Joshua performs Mason Bates’ Cello Concerto next with the Fort Worth Symphony (January 8-10) and with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (April 16, 17, and 21). Be sure to check his schedule of all upcoming performances to see if he’s coming to a city near you!
Gieseking: Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin
Feuermann and Heifetz: Brahms Double Concerto
Billie Holiday: Lady Sings the Blues
If you’ve missed Joshua’s previous posts, particularly his thoughts on Gratitude and the holiday season, you can read them all here.