Roger Cline joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1973 at the age of 27. He was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. His father made violins as a hobby, so that when Cline first showed an interest in playing a musical instrument, violin was the logical choice. Later, after deciding to play bass, he continued his music studies at the University of Michigan, where he received a master’s degree in bass performance, studying with Lawrence Hurst. He spent three years in the U.S. Army Special Forces Band at West Point Military Academy and continued his studies with Homer Mensch while playing bass and sousaphone in the band. He has performed with numerous chamber ensembles and with groups of his colleagues from the CSO, as well as in recital at the library at Lincoln Center. He also plays the bass viola da gamba in his church and local period-instrument concerts. He performed the solo gamba parts in Bach’s Saint John Passion with the CSO.
Cline also is a professional woodworker. His turned-wood bowls and sculptural objects are sold in galleries in Wilmette (IL), Ellison Bay (WI), Mount Vernon (WA) and Washington (D.C.). He also makes wood percussion instruments that are used in the CSO as well as in orchestras throughout the U.S.
Cline’s entire family is made up of professional string players: wife Betsy is a local freelance violinist and member of the Lake Forest Symphony; daughter Jenny is a violist member of the National Symphony in Washington, D.C.; and son Daniel is a cellist arts partner member of the Arkansas Symphony.
Cline is a long-time member of the Chicago Symphony Members Committee.