Meet TED Fellow Joshua Roman, 26 year-old Virtuoso Cellist

Joshua earned his national reputation by performing a wide range of repertoire, collaborating with artists such as DJ Spooky and using the internet to make classical music accessible to a wider audience.
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With TED2011 less than two weeks away, we want to take the opportunity to introduce you to some of the amazing TED Fellows who will be joining us in Long Beach. The TED Fellows program handpicks world-changing innovators from around the globe, and brings them to the TED stage -- literally and figuratively -- to raise international awareness of their remarkable work. Note: submissions for the next round of TEDGlobal Fellows will close March 11. To apply or to recommend an extraordinary candidate, please visit

Today's Fellow is Joshua Roman, a cellist. Joshua earned his national reputation by performing a wide range of repertoire with absolute commitment to communicating the essence of music at its most organic level. Before embarking on a solo career, he served as principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony for two seasons, earning that privilege at the unheard of age of 22. Always looking to push creative boundaries, he serves as artistic director of TownMusic, an experimental chamber music series at Town Hall in Seattle. He also collaborates with artists such as DJ Spooky and uses the internet to make classical music accessible to a wider audience.

In recent seasons, Joshua has performed with the Symphonies of Albany, Edmonton, San Francisco, Seattle, Stamford, and his native Oklahoma City Philharmonic, among others.

Some questions for Joshua:

What are you currently working on? I'm interested in directing attention and focus, explored through playing cello. Most of my experimentation takes place in my video series, "The Popper Project." I record cello Études that are fewer than four minutes long and post them on YouTube. How can one execute fully-formed ideas with utmost perfection, yet stay free enough to allow improvisatory nuance? This has immediate application in almost every area of life, but especially in performance.

What do you do for fun? I like to read, especially nonfiction. I love learning, so I study languages, cook, learn basic HTML, and enjoy other activities that stimulate communication and the dark recesses of my musician's brain. I also run, and have been into yoga for a while, and have dabbled in Tai Chi. I also love great films as well as TV series, especially historical ones.

Tell a surprising anecdote about yourself that few people know. I used to practice cello while watching TV and films. I watched several complete TV series this way, including Lost and The Wire. As a kid, I'd read books while playing. I'd put music on the stand -- which should have been a dead giveaway for my parents as I had everything memorized -- and hide a Hardy Boys or other fun book behind it. After college I only practiced scales in front of the TV, believing that half-intentioned rote playing was OK for mere exercises, but would damage my emotional interpretation of a "real" piece of music.