Photo of David Bowlin
  • Professor of Violin
  • Chair, Division of Strings


  • 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


Violinist David Bowlin has won critical acclaim for his performances of a wide range of repertoire from The New York TimesChicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, and many others. First-prize winner of the 2003 Washington International Competition, Bowlin has performed with such leading artists as Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Jonathan Biss, Jeremy Denk, Robert McDonald, and members of the Juilliard, Emerson, and Brentano string quartets. His solo performances include premieres of violin concerti written for him at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival and at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and in recent seasons he has performed concerti at Miller Theatre in New York, the Aspen Music Festival, and with the La Jolla Symphony. On air he has performed in broadcasts for WQXR New York, WFMT Chicago, Vermont Public Radio, and nationwide on NPR’s Performance Today.

Bowlin is a member of the Oberlin Trio with Oberlin faculty colleagues Amir Eldan and Haewon Song, with whom he released a recording of trios by Dvořák, Shostakovich, and Joan Tower in 2015. He is also a founding member of the acclaimed International Contemporary Ensemble, Musical America’s 2014 Ensemble of the Year, and a former member of the Naumburg Award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players. He has made several tours with Musicians from Marlboro and has been a guest artist with many organizations, including the Boston Chamber Music Society, ChamberFest Cleveland, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Ojai, SongFest at the Colburn School, the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival, and the Four Seasons festival. He has also performed as concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the IRIS Orchestra, the Juilliard Orchestra, and the Marlboro Festival Orchestra. His recordings can be found on the Bridge, Naxos, Nonesuch, Tundra, Mode, Arsis, and Oberlin Music labels.

In addition to his roles as associate professor of violin and director of strings at Oberlin, Bowlin serves on the faculties of the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and at the Banff Centre. Prior to coming to Oberlin in 2007, he taught at the Juilliard School as assistant to Ronald Copes of the Juilliard Quartet. From 2007 to 2017, Bowlin was artistic director of Chamber Music Quad Cities, which presented chamber music in eastern Iowa and his native western Illinois.

Bowlin is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Juilliard School, and Stony Brook University, and his major teachers include Roland and Almita Vamos, Ronald Copes, Pamela Frank, Ani Kavafian, Philip Setzer, and Stephen and Kimberly Meier-Sims.

Bowlin’s awards include first prize at the 2003 Washington International Competition, the 2017 Samuel Sanders Prize from the Classical Recording Foundation, and the 2007 Samuel Baron Prize from Stony Brook University. In 2015 Bridge Records nominated his recording of Roger Sessions’ Sonata for Violin for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo. His 2010 recording of music by Chinary Ung with the Da Capo Chamber Players was named one of NPR’s 5 Best American Contemporary Classical Albums of that year.


“Brilliant violin soloist…ferocious intensity.”

“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.”

Chicago Sun-Times


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

Chicago Tribune


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

Chicago Classical Review

Bowlin’s extensive chamber music performances include concerts in New York at Weill Recital Hall, Zankel Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd St. Y, Bargemusic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Merkin Concert Hall, Miller Theatre, and Symphony Space.

He has performed and recorded with members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and  toured in major East Coast cities with Musicians from Marlboro. Recording credits include works of Stravinsky, Webern, Xenakis, Roger Sessions, George Crumb, Huang Ruo, Chinary Ung, Ursula Mamlok, Du Yun, Su Lian Tan, and others for the Bridge, Naxos, New Focus, Arsis, and Mode labels.

Founding member, International Contemporary Ensemble (2001-present)

Member, Oberlin Trio (2008-present)

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

Guest artist, SongFest at the Colburn School (2016-present)

Faculty, Bowdoin International Music Festival (2017-present)

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

Solo recordings:
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)


  • 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."