Rohan de Saram
In November 2005 Rohan bid farewell to the Arditti Quartet in order to pursue his own artistic vision. He works now with a variety of artists, friends and composers, bringing together music from a range of musical periods and parts of the world, both eastern and western, classical and contemporary, composed music and improvisations, with players from many musical backgrounds.
Young Prodigy “There are few of his generation that have such gifts” – Pablo Casals. “A rare genius, a born musician, an amazing young cellist” – Dmitri Mitropoulos. Piatigorsky presented him with a special bow after a recital in America. Although he has been more recently known as an outstanding performer of contemporary music, it was as a classical artist that he made his name as a teenager and in his twenties and thirties. Having studied cello from the age of 11 with Gaspar Cassado in Italy in Siena and Florence, he was awarded, at the age of 17, the coveted Suggia award to study in the UK with John Barbirolli and in Puerto Rico with Pablo Casals. At the invitation of Dmitri Mitropoulos, who described him in 1957 as “a rare genius… .a born musician… an amazing…cellist”, Rohan was invited to give his Carnegie Hall debut in 1960 with the New York Philharmonic, playing Khatchaturian’s Cello Concerto under the baton of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski International Virtuoso.
“Dazzling technical wizadry” – Sydney Telegraph.”de Saram is a Cello Phenomenon, one of the greatest cellists of our time” – Kolnische Rundshau.”Famous as a supreme champion of the most complex new music, master-cellist Rohan de Saram brings a unique understanding and sensibility to the classical and early modern repertoire, alongside a new work specially written for him by Naresh Sohal” – Spitalfields Festival, June 2006 Rohan has performed with the major orchestras of Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and the former Soviet Union with conductors such as John Barbirolli, Adrian Boult, Zubin Mehta, Seiji Ozawa and William Steinberg, as well as with composers conducting their own works such as Luciano Berio. After the UK premiere of Il Ritorno degli Snovidenia for cello and orchestra Berio said of him: “Your performance of Ritorno is splendid, but besides Ritorno, your sound, your perfect intonation, your phrasing and bowing technique, make you a great performer of any music.” As a result Berio wrote for him his final Sequenza, no XIV, for solo cello which, as a tribute to Rohan, includes large sections based on the rhythms of the Kandyan drum of Sri Lanka, an instrument which Rohan himself has played since his childhood in Sri Lanka. Rohan has worked with Kodaly, Shostakovich, Poulenc and Walton, as well as more recently with many leading contemporary composers such as Pousseur, Xenakis and Berio who have, amongst others, written works for him. Some of his recordings include Vivaldi’s Sonatas, Rubbra’s Soliloquyfor cello and orchestra, Britten’s Cello Suites No 1-3, John Mayer’s Ragamalas & Prabhanda, Xenakis’ Kottos and Carter’s Figment I and II. Rohan’s recordings of Berio’s Sequenza XIV was released by Mode in April 2006 and by Edition Zeitklang (also including works by Xenakis, Carter, B. A. Zimmermann, Ruzicka, Gelhaar, Pröve and Steinke) in 2010. Feldman’s Trio was released by Mode in 2009. In December 2004 Rohan was awarded an honorary D. Litt. from the University of Peradeniya , Sri Lanka. A year later, in December 2005 he received the Deshamaniya, a national honour of Sri Lanka, given by the President of Sri Lanka. Current Developments.
Since striking out on his own in November 2005, Rohan’s range of repertoire, collaborators and venues has blossomed in the most remarkable way. This results directly from his profound desire to explore new modes, new composers, new musical cultures and new possibilities worldwide, in the course of which he has inspired a considerable expansion of the cello repertoire. Rohan has performed a continuous stream of original works written specially for him in new instrumental combinations such as bassoon & cello (with Pascal Gallois), double bass & cello (with Stefano Scodanibbio), flute & cello (with Carin Levine, Richard Craig, Roberto Fabbriciani), guitar and cello (with Magnus Andersson, Jonathan Leathwood), clarinet, flute & cello (with Tadej Kenig, clarinet), percussion & cello (with Suren de Saram, Jean-Charles Francois, Florent Jodelet, Stephan Froleyks), harpsichord & cello (with Preethi de Silva), voice & cello (with Patricia Rozario). In September 2007 Rohan and Aki Takahashi had the honour of playing in the presence of Empress Michiko of Japan, herself a talented pianist. Three months later he appeared for the first time in Hanoi to give the world premier of a double concerto for cello, percussion and orchestra by Ton That Tiet. 2009 saw him returning to Yerevan for the first time since the Soviet era, having a week earlier in Cologne givien the world premier of ‘Chant’, a new work for cello and orchestra by Toshio Hosokawa, in a performance that received a prolonged ovation. Collaboration with Hosokawa continues with Rohan’s extensive participation in the Takefu Festival on Japan’s north-west coast. In Los Angeles he has appeared with ‘Con Gioia’ in a programme that included the US premier of Param Vir’s ‘Beyond The Reach Of The World’ for solo cello alongside works by J.S. Bach, Pietro Locatelli and Luigi Boccherini.