Monday, November 1, 2010

Joshua Roman - a phenom and kindred spirit

by Kirk Muspratt

In the past two weeks, in disparate places, I have found myself thinking about the phenom of Josh Roman.

I was in Peoria working with high school students in a district string festival … urging them to use the right part of their bow, asking them to consider the speed of the bow, the weight in their bow … asking them to change their bowings at times - to get that great crescendo .....
I watched them struggling with and conquering some of these complex challenges of playing a string instrument.

On the way home, I was thinking about them working so hard and them caring. They are in the middle of the middle of Illinois - not in Paris - not in downtown Boston - and they love the viola and they are enchanted with classical music.

I started thinking about Josh. He was from "the middle of the middle" of America. Oklahoma. In fact, he did not even have a cello teacher for the first 10 years of his studies. Indeed, he did take his cello to his lessons but he only had a violin teacher to teach him - his older brother and sisters' violin teacher. Therefore, his teacher would show him what he himself would do on the violin - and then little Joshua would turn it all backwards and figure out how to do it on the cello.
And - Josh "made it!"

Boy, did he make it!

Then, a week later, I was walking along Broadway in New York City, after having just judged the finals of the Concert Artists Guild competition. Such an amazing wealth of talent in these finals. A marimba player from Japan, a quartet from Britain, a pianist from Australia… And I would have voted for almost any of them to be the grand prize winner. They were all so wonderful.

Yet - only one of them would go home the winner and the other 12 finalists … Well, I worried more about them as they all richly deserved to be performing out in the world. I worried as I walked home, would they each "make it?" What could I do to help them?

As I walked along Broadway, I again started thinking about Joshua from Oklahoma, how hard he must have worked, what kind of gift God must have given him, how difficult it must have been for him to "make it" in a world now where every nation in the world is sending super artists to the stage.

I thought how much I admired him and how much I was looking forward to working again with this kindred spirit.
Joshua Roman performs with New Philharmonic and Kirk Muspratt on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m.

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