David Bowlin

  • Professor of Violin
  • Chair, Division of Strings

Areas of Study


  • BM, Oberlin Conservatory, 2000
  • MM, Juilliard School, 2002
  • DMA, SUNY at Stony Brook, 2007
  • Studies with Roland and Almita Vamos, Ronald Copes, Philip Setzer, Ani Kavafian, Pamela Frank, and Stephen and Kimberly Sims


David Bowlin has led a wide-ranging career as a soloist and chamber musician, garnering critical acclaim for his performances of a broad spectrum of classical and contemporary repertoire. First-prize winner of the Washington International Competition, he has performed as a soloist across the United States and Europe. His performances include dozens of premieres, including violin concertos written for him by Marcos Balter and Alexandra Hermentin and premiered at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall.

Bowlin is a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), a member of the Oberlin Trio, and a former member of the Naumburg Award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players. His chamber music collaborations include performances with members of the Juilliard, Emerson, and Brentano quartets, pianists Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Jonathan Biss, and Jeremy Denk, and at many festivals across the U.S. and abroad. Bowlin’s solo and chamber music recordings can be found on the Naxos, Bridge, New Focus, Nonesuch, Arsis, Mode, Tundra, Austrian National Radio, and Oberlin Music labels. His recording credits include work with Chick Corea for his album The Continents and a number of tracks with Lenny Kravitz.

Bowlin joined the Oberlin Conservatory faculty in 2007. In the summer, he teaches on the faculties of the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival and the Bowdoin International Music Festival. Former students have won positions with the Chicago Lyric Opera, Milwaukee Symphony, Berlin Radio Symphony, Ensemble Modern, Komishe Oper Berlin, San Diego Symphony, New World Symphony, and Orchestra NOW, among others.

Bowlin is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Juilliard School, and Stony Brook University, where he studied with Pamela Frank, Ronald Copes, Philip Setzer, Ani Kavafian, and Roland and Almita Vamos.

First prize, 2003 Washington International Competition

Stony Brook University’s Samuel Baron Prize

2017 Samuel Sanders Prize from the Classical Recording Foundation

NPR’s 5 Best American Contemporary Classical Albums (2010)


“Brilliant violin soloist”

“Rich, alluring tone…”

“...a finely balanced, suitably intense account of Mozart’s Trio in E, K542.”

—The New York Times


“Bowlin is a formidable violinist, combining dulcet sweetness of tone with incisive drive.”

—The Chicago Sun-Times


“David Bowlin was the impressive soloist, taming the awkward double-stops with ease and carefully delineating the rapid changes of character.”

‚—The Chicago Tribune


“The alarmingly gifted violinist, David Bowlin...provided sterling advocacy and an array of widely terraced dynamics and colors.”

Chicago Classical Review


“On his latest CD, violinist David Bowlin presents an astonishing array of works that showcase his extraordinary ability as an interpreter of diverse styles of contemporary music. Released on New Focus Recordings, Bird as Prophet is a fantastical listening journey for all—not just new music aficionados. Throughout the recording, Bowlin proves himself to be a player of abundant technique, however it is his innate expressive abilities that make this album so attractive.”

Cleveland Classical


“Striving for new perspectives and reconciliations with the musical past, the album acknowledges the violin’s place within the Western classical tradition, yet also revels in its versatility and ability to engage in dialogue with the globalized future. David Bowlin should be applauded not only for his artistry and command of his instrument, but also for his timely efforts to represent multiplicity and diversity in music, erasing boundaries instead of erecting them.”


Faculty, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival (2013-present)

Faculty, Bowdoin International Music Festival (2017-present)

Faculty, Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival (2010-2012)

Bowlin-Cho Duo (2017-present)

Founding member, International Contemporary Ensemble (2001-present)

Member, Oberlin Trio (2008-present)

Marlboro Music Festival (2005-2008)

Solo recordings:

Bird As Prophet (New Focus Recordings, 2019): Works by George Walker (OC ’41), Du Yun (OC ’01), Mario Davidovsky, Martin Bresnick, and Alexandra Karastoyanova-Hermentin

Solo and Duo works by Roger Sessions (Bridge Records, 2015)

Concerti and solo works by Luciano Berio and Huang Ruo (Oberlin Music, 2014)

Violin and piano works by Ursula Mamlok (Bridge Records, 2008)

Solo violin works by Ursula Mamlok (Bridge Records, 2008)


Chamber music:

AEsopica: Music by Marcos Balter (Tundra, 2016)

Oberlin Trio: Music by Dvorak, Shostakovich, and Joan Tower (Oberlin Music, 2015)

Music by Iannis Xenakis with the International Contemporary Ensemble (Mode Records, 2013)

Music by Alexandra Karastoyanova-Hermentin (ORF-Radio Österreich, 2012)

Music by John Adams with the International Contemporary Ensemble (Nonesuch, 2011)

Music of Su Lian Tan (Arsis Records, 2011)

Music by Chinary Ung, with the Da Capo Chamber Players (Bridge Records, 2010)

Music by George Crumb, with the International Contemporary Ensemble (Bridge Records, 2008)

Chamber Concertos by Huang Ruo (Bridge Records, 2007)

Spring 2022

Prin Pvt Violin: — PVST 004
Sec Pvt Violin: — PVST 054
Chamber Music — APST 800
Contemporary Chamber Music — APST 805

Fall 2022

Prin Pvt Violin: — PVST 004
Sec Pvt Violin: — PVST 054
Chamber Music — APST 800
Contemporary Chamber Music — APST 805


Violinist David Bowlin releases recording on New Focus

October 11, 2019

Oberlin Conservatory violin professor David Bowlin '00 has just released Bird as Prophet, on New Focus Recordings.  He collaborates with colleague and pianist Tony Cho, an opera and vocal coach in the conservatory, on the CD's title track by Martin Bresnick. The recording also features two works written by Oberlin alumni. Under a Tree, an Udātta by Du Yun '01 is a piece for fixed media and violin anchored on a recording of Vedic chanting. Bleu (2011), a composition for solo violin, is a mature work written by the late George Walker '41 for his violinist son Gregory when the composer was nearly 90. Avant Music News praises the release, "Over these centuries the nature of virtuosity has evolved, along with the techniques needed to achieve it. What a 21st century violin virtuoso sounds like is on display on David Bowlin’s Bird as Prophet."