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 repertoire.  First prize winner of the Washington International Competition, he has performed as a soloist across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Among his dozens of premieres are violin concerti written for him by Marcos Balter, Alexandra Hermentin, and Donald Crockett, with performances at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and at the Aspen Music Festival.

Bowlin is a member of the Oberlin Trio and the Bowlin-Cho Duo. He is also a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble and was formerly a member of the Naumburg award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players. Chamber music collaborations include performances as a guest with the Juilliard Quartet; with pianists Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Robert McDonald, Jonathan Biss, and Jeremy Denk; and with members of the Emerson and Brentano quartets. He has made several tours with Musicians from Marlboro and has been a guest artist with organizations including the Boston Chamber Music Society, ChamberFest Cleveland, the Banff Centre, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Ojai, SongFest, Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival, and the Four Seasons festival.  He has performed as guest concertmaster with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the IRIS Orchestra, the Marlboro Festival Orchestra, and as guest principal with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. 

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, with further recording credits including 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 and currently serves as Professor of Violin and Chair of String Studies. In the summer he teaches on the faculties of the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival and has been on the faculty at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, ARIA, and at the Banff Centre.  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
2007 Samuel Baron Prize, Stonybrook University
NPR’s 5 Best American Contemporary Classical Albums (2010)
2017 Samuel Sanders Prize from the Classical Recording Foundation

Review quotes

“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.”

Solo recordings

Bird As Prophet (New Focus Recordings, 2019): Works by George Walker ’41, Du Yun ’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

Trios by Franz Joseph Haydn, with the Oberlin Trio (Naxos, 2022)

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)

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

Emeritus/founding member, International Contemporary Ensemble (2001-present)

Oberlin Trio (2008-present)

Bowlin-Cho Duo (2017-present)

Faculty, Bowdoin International Music Festival (2017-2020)

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

Musicians from Marlboro Tours (2008, 2010, 2012)

Marlboro Music Festival (2005-2008)

Da Capo Chamber Players (2003-2007)

Spring 2024

Principal Private Study - Violin — PVST 004
Secondary Private Study - Violin — PVST 054
Chamber Music — APST 800
Contemporary Chamber Music — APST 805


"Haydn: Piano Trios Vol. 7: Named Ideastream Recording of the Week

March 17, 2023

On October 24, 2022, Ideastream Public Media named The Oberlin Trio's June 2022 album their Recording of the Week. The release on Naxos includes Haydn’s piano trios from his very first, written around 1765, to his 33rd, composed about 30 years later. The trio's members are Oberlin Conservatory faculty—pianist Haewon Song, violinist David Bowlin, and cellist Dmitry Kouzov.

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."