Cellist Rohan de Saram has become well known both for his advocacy of contemporary music and for his nearly three decades of service in the Arditti Quartet, itself a bastion for the performance and championing of new music. While de Saram has, since the 1960s, been active in performing contemporary music, he has hardly neglected more traditional fare: his repertory is so vast it would take pages to list, so eclectic there's hardly a nationality or musical tradition not included. To mention a sampling of his repertory, de Saram plays Baroque to present-day, taking in standards by J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Elgar, Rachmaninov, and Prokofiev, and he has regularly performed contemporary works by Berio, Carter, Feldman, Gubaidulina, Toshio Hosokawa, Saariaho, Tavener, Xenakis, and scores of others. De Saram has had more than 40 works dedicated to him, works he has generally premiered. As a member of the Arditti Quartet, de Saram made well over 30 recordings, and about that many as a soloist and freelance player. His recordings are available on a broad range of labels, including Albany, Bridge, Camerata, Lyrita, Naïve, Mode, Sony, Teldec, and Wergo.
Born in Sheffield, England, on March 9, 1939, to Sri Lankan parents, Rohan de Saram developed proficiency on the cello in his early childhood. From age 11 he studied with Gaspar Cassadó. As a recipient of the Guilhermina Suggia Award he was able to have later studies with Pablo Casals.
De Saram debuted at Carnegie Hall in 1960 playing the Khachaturian concerto with Skrowaczewski and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. His international career began to thrive and in 1972 he moved to London, where he soon began teaching at the Trinity College of Music. In 1977 de Saram joined the Arditti Quartet, remaining a member until 2005. During his Arditti years he maintained a fairly busy schedule of concerts as a soloist and non-quartet chamber player. Among the many works that would be dedicated to him was the 2002 Berio Sequenza XIV, which de Saram premiered and recorded for DG.
After de Saram departed the Arditti Quartet in 2005 he remained active both as a teacher and concert performer. He has regularly given performances at the Darmstadt Summer School; New Music Festival in Ruemlingen, Switzerland; and in major venues across Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Among his later recordings is the 2010 Mode CD of Morton Feldman's trio.