Foto: Rainer Pfisterer

Born in 1959 in Amarillo, Texas (USA). University music studies in cello and composition – 1976-1981 in Texas (Univ. of Texas/Austin, 76-79, North Texas State/Denton, 80-81) and in Paris, France 79-80). 1980-83 active with the free improvisation quartet BL Lacerta as Artist-in-Residence in Dallas with support from the Texas Commission on the Arts, Chamber Music America, the Atlantic-Richfield Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (his “Masters in Improvisation”). The collaboration with artists of widely divergent media forms has ever since been a significant aspect of his activities as a cellist, teacher, improviser and composer for over 40 years.

German resident since 1983 in Stuttgart and Essen. Further composition studies with Berthold Hummel and Nicolaus A. Huber, cello teacher in a “youth music school” in Gladbeck 1985-1988. 1987-89 cellist in the Dortmund Philharmonic.

In the 1990s, active with the Wolpe Trio (Essen), Musikfabrik NRW (Düsseldorf), ensemble avance (Stuttgart),  the trombonist- composer Mike Svoboda, the organist-composer Gary Verkade, extensive private cello teaching and the beginning of school projects in contemporary music and group improvisation. Worked with composers James Tenney, Helmut Lachenmann, Nicolaus A. Huber, Kaija Saariaho and many others.

From about 2000, active in Ensemble >gelberklang< and Helios String Quartet (both in Stuttgart), in the ensembles of Mike Svoboda and the American composer-guitarist Scott Fields (Cologne), concerts and film music with Michael Riessler, collaborations with the French dancer-choreographer Christine Brunel in Essen. Guest with Ensemble Modern Orchestra (Frankfurt), ensemble recherche (Freiburg) and willing collaborator in many improvisation- and composition-based projects of all kinds.

Foto: Yakup Zeyrek

Starting in 2010 with his move back to Stuttgart, increased emphasis on composition & solo work with cello and electronics, further projects with the choreographer Nina Kurzeja. With the spoken-word poet Timo Brunke he created “Der Übergang des Abendlandes (The Transition of the Western World)” as a commission from the Theaterhaus Stuttgart. 2012 he played in a trio project with the South African jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim and Cleave Guyton (woodwinds, NY) for a CD on the Intuition label. 

After working successfully with the Belgian multi-talent Roderik Vanderstraeten on the music for Nina Kurzeja’s “Alice in Iconland” dance fantasy in 2012, they have continued their work together with improvisation sessions for audio, film and theater music productions in Roderik’s HARMONIE59 project until Vanderstraeten joined Open_Music in 2019.

In 2005, he and members of Ensemble Gelberklang founded Open_Music e.V., a non-profit organization for improvisation and artistic education in Stuttgart that has been awarded numerous grants and prizes from national, state and local agencies and foundations. Open_Music has carried out more than 100 projects with children, youth and adults from a wide spectrum of social backgrounds. In 2012, Open_Music was named a “Chosen Location” by Germany – Land of Ideas and was granted institutional funding by the City of Stuttgart, an important contribution to the continuity of their work. Since 2019, Roller is general director of Open_Music and one of his primary goals has been the further development of the Open_Music Ensemble, with regular concerts and productions of improvised chamber music. This was especially successful during the Corona pandemic, a time in which he was personally deeply involved with the practice of electronic and electroacoustic music.

Foto: Rainer Pfisterer