Michael Lowenstern

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Michael Lowenstern (born 1968 in Chicago, Illinois, United States) from the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago is an American bass clarinetist and composer specializing in new music.

Lowenstern is based in Brooklyn, New York. In his early years, he performed in various ensembles representing a wide range of musical genres, including The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Steve Reich and Musicians, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, The Klezmatics, John Zorn, and Billband. In 1991 he won the second prize at the International Gaudeamus Competition in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

He has created well over 40 compositions for bass clarinet, both solo and with electronics. His works explore the possibilities of large ensembles of bass clarinets (done by multi-tracking), as well as juxtaposing the instrument with drum and bass-style beats more common to electronic dance music than to contemporary classical music. He has also composed music for film, dance and advertising. Between October 2006 and January 2012, a segment of his playing with Billband has been used as the theme for the National Public Radio segment "Science Out of the Box," which airs on the Weekend All Things Considered program. He has been a featured guest on the In C episode of RadioLab, two episodes of The Clarineat podcast, and numerous other radio and podcast interviews. He is affiliated with Vandoren and Selmer, the latter of whom developed a custom all-black bass clarinet in partnership with Lowenstern in 2015.

Lowenstern holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, an Artist's Certificate from the Sweelinck Conservatorium Amsterdam, and an M.M. and D.M.A. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1989, he received a Fulbright grant to study in Amsterdam with bass clarinet virtuoso Harry Sparnaay. In addition to Sparnaay, Lowenstern's clarinet and bass clarinet teachers have included Charles Neidich, Richard MacDowell, and John Bruce Yeh, and he has also studied composition with Daniel Weymouth. Lowenstern has served on the faculties of New York University and the Juilliard School, and is now on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, teaching bass clarinet in their Contemporary Performance Program. He served as bass clarinetist of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra from 1999 until his retirement from orchestral playing in 2005. He appears on over sixty CDs, including seven solo recordings.

Michael's website, earspasm, has been an online resource for bass clarinetists since 1997. While initially a promotional website for Lowenstern's music and performing career, it now features an online shop and a popular Dear Abby mailbag, where Lowenstern answers clarinet and bass clarinet players' questions.

Since 2011, Lowenstern has been producing educational videos on YouTube, and has over 150 in his catalog on the platform. A few of his videos have created some controversy in the clarinet world, and he is often the subject of intense debate on the long-established Clarinet Pages of Woodwind.org[1]


  1. ^ "The Clarinet Pages - your guide to the clarinet". test.woodwind.org. Retrieved 2019-03-06.

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