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Gerald Carpenter: Arts & Lectures to Welcome Prodigious Cellist Joshua Roman

The talented young musician will perform a recital at 7 p.m. Thursday in Hahn Hall

UCSB Arts & Lectures will present a recital by the phenomenally talented young cellist Joshua Roman at 7 p.m. Thursday in Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West.

Roman, born in Oklahoma City, Okla., was appointed principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony at the tender age of 22 (presumably, that was several years ago, though I could find no photo of him that made him look older than 15). After a couple of years playing with that fine band, Roman decided to embark on a solo career. Since then, he has made the cursus honorum of guest appearances and solo recitals, provoking an astonishing flood of critical raves and popular enthusiasm.

“An avid chamber performer,” according to his website, “Roman creates programs that feature new works and reflect the eclectic range of his musical influences and inspirations.”

Just what that last bit entails is apparent from the program Roman will play at Hahn Hall: Benjamin Britten’s Suite No. 1 for Solo Cello, Opus 72, Aaron Jay Kernis’ Ballad, Alexandra Gardner’s Bloom, Roman’s own Grace and Gabriela Lena Frank’s Suite Peruana for Solo Cello.

In an ideal world — which this one patently is not — it should be the job of established soloists of mature years to put their prestige and talents in the service of music’s future by introducing new works. The fact that this so rarely happens probably goes to explain the almost reckless novelty in Roman’s program. When the only familiar composer on a schedule is Britten, it begins to look as if some kind of page has been decisively turned.

For the rest, Kernis was born in Philadelphia in 1960. He studied at the Manhattan School of Music, the San Francisco Conservatory and Yale University (at the latter, his mentors were John Adams, Jacob Druckman, Morton Subotnick and Charles Wuorinen). His second string quartet, Musica Instrumentalis, won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Gardner attended the The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, the California Institute of the Arts and Vassar College. At the moment, she lives in Baltimore.

In the words of her website, her music “combines explorations into the rich details of sound with a visceral percussive energy to create dynamic sonic landscapes. Drawing inspiration from a wide variety of sources such as mythology and contemporary poetry, her training as a percussionist, and collaborations with innovative musicians, Gardner is building new audiences for contemporary music with an expressive sound and a flair for the imaginative and unexpected.”

Frank, born in 1972, grew up in Berkeley. Her parents met when her father was a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru in the 1960s. She is a graduate of Rice University and earned a DMA in music composition from the University of Michigan (2001). Her work often draws on her multicultural background, especially her mother’s Peruvian heritage.

“I think the music,” she says, “can be seen as a byproduct of my always trying to figure out how Latina I am and how gringa I am.”

Admission to Thursday’s concert is $16 for the general public and free to UCSB students. For tickets and more information, call A&L at 805.893.3535.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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