Omaha Symphony invites Roman back for Dvorak Concerto


March 17th, 2017

“It all has this just incredibly emotional, tied together feeling, and for me it’s one of the most powerful works.

I love the twisted story behind it, but in the end it’s incredibly human and beautiful”

Joining the Omaha Symphony for the third time in one month, renowned cellist, Joshua Roman will be performing music of Dvorak in this weekend’s masterworks concert, “Pines of Rome”.

Roman “This was kind of crazy, but I was here last week playing the Kernis and that was great and I Was already excited because that was my second time to me back within a month and my fourth time getting to work with a symphony and getting to work with Thomas and getting to experience more of his breadth of knowledge and ability. And we were kind of joking around because I got a warning from United Airlines about the weather, the blizzard that was going to hit NYC. I got this warning last Friday, so Sunday we were joking around wouldn’t it be crazy that the soloist for next week also can’t get here because of the weather and let’s just sort of, a backup plan would be Dvorak, and it was totally a joke, but obviously, I’m willing.”

After Roman realized this was a serious invitation, he was so happy to experience more of Maestro Wilkins and the Symphony and explore a new adventure with a piece he considers the best concerto written, for anything.

ROMAN: “It’s already such a fantastically colorful piece, you don’t have to know anything about it. It’s basically one of his best symphonies, maybe even his best symphony but you are sort of guided through by the cello. The cello really takes on this central voice but it’s not like a concerto like the Tchaikovsky I played last month or the Schumann even, or especially the Haydn’s where the cello is out front and center and the orchestra is just the back up. In this instance, it’s really a community of sounds and colors and people sharing parts and the cello is very interactive with the other musicians. For me, he hits that balance so well that it gives it a sense of, that there is a real journey, a real story, it’s grand, it’s intimate, it’s everything.”

He began learning the piece as a young student, after his teacher told him he wasn’t ready yet.

ROMAN: “I think I was 13 when I got the music is secret anyway, and learned the Dvorak Cello Concerto. And, I don’t think I played it very well, but I do remember at some point saying, “Can I play Dvorak?” a lesson. And the response was, “What?, who said you could learn the Dvorak?”. So I’ve known this piece for most of my life and even before I’d ever give n a performance of the full concerto with orchestra, I would have been able to play the entire thing at a pretty high level for whatever level I was at the time, any day. I just loved it that much. I used to play it for myself in the middle, maybe as a procrastinatory measure of my practicing or sometimes at the end of my practicing. This piece is always with me and always ready to go.”

Not only has Roman been playing this piece for most of his life, but he has researched and studied every bit of it.

ROMAN: “So, Dvorak actually lived in Iowa for part of his life, which is not so far from here. Thomas Wilkins, the maestro, did mention that yesterday in rehearsal. I hadn’t really considered that as I was thinking about this week. This week was so last minute, that I am mostly just thinking about playing my part and I’ve spent a lot of time studying the Dvorak but I hadn’t yet made that connection, so that is pretty cool. There is this feeling, this comfort, this sort of Midwest thing that I think Dvorak could really relate to. At the time he wrote this, he was very homesick so you hear a lot of that in the piece.”

He also explained what happened in Dvorak’s life that led to the writing of the melody in the second movement.

ROMAN: “In Dvorak’s life, he married the wrong person. He married the sister of his true love, and this was not something that was a secret. I don’t understand, as someone who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, it doesn’t make any, like wouldn’t the sisters not let that happen, wouldn’t that be a problem? But back then it was more of a normal thing. He actually had written many songs thinking of his true love, the sister in law and there was one in particular that was her favorite, and he turned that into the melody of the second movement, which is kind of the heart of the piece.”

Come hear the interpretations of Dvorak with Internationally renowned cellist Joshua Romans. He joins the Omaha Symphony and Maestro Wilkins for the fifth time in his career this Friday and Saturday evening at the Holland Center for a Masterworks concert titled “Pines of Rome”, where you will also hear the music of Respighi and the Omaha Premier of a newly commissioned concerto for Brass. The performances begin at 7:30pm, for tickets and more information visit, or call, 402.345.0606.

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