Student spotlight: Alex Fowler

For cellist Alex Fowler, the future looks bright.


January 24, 2017

For Alex Fowler, a senior music major from Vienna, Virginia, it all started in the fourth grade when he was introduced to the cello. After a year, he began taking private lessons. “I cried for the first few months because she was such a strict teacher. I was bad about practicing; it was a struggle with my mom,” said Fowler.

Despite the difficulty of the first few months, Fowler quickly grew to love the opportunities found in Northern Virginia for young cellists. “We had several different string groups in elementary and middle school, and there were a couple of orchestras in high school.”

Fowler participated in district and regional orchestras before making All-State in his senior year of high school where he went from first alternate to second chair in record time. “All-State was an exciting change of pace from high school,” said Fowler. “There would be a few days every week that were devoted entirely to music.”

It wasn’t until Fowler was 16 that he began to consider music as a career. Suddenly, he found the drive and motivation to practice and develop a seriousness for his craft. Fowler was recommended by Olga Yanovich, violinist, music director, and founder of the Washington Youth Chamber Orchestra, to attend the InterHarmony International Music Festival in Tuscany, Italy. At the festival, Fowler met Virginia Tech faculty member Alan Weinstein, who agreed to a private lesson while the two were in Italy. This lesson led to Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts as Fowler’s first and only choice for his undergraduate education.

Weinstein teaches cello and bass and is a founding member of the Kandinsky Trio. His unique approach to teaching cello opened Fowler’s mind to new and exciting possibilities as a musician. “We focused on a technical and physical approach,” Fowler explained. “For the first year and a half we went back to the fundamentals and rebuilt my technique as a cellist.”

Fowler recalls practicing in upwards of five to six hours a day during his freshman year. At times, this rigorous practice schedule would leave him exhausted. Despite the intense schedule, Fowler grew into a powerhouse of a performer able to withstand the physical demands of the cello. Musicians are often at high risk of physical and repetitive injuries such as tendonitis. Proper technique is essential to ensure a long, healthy career as a performer and Fowler aims to have just that.

He recently completed applications and auditions for graduate programs in cello performance at the University of Cincinnati, the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music.

“Music means something to the performer. I think that’s important. To like the sounds you are making by yourself and with other people.” Fowler hopes to keep an open mind and remain flexible in regards to his career path. He hopes graduate school will allow more opportunities for chamber music and string quartets as well as playing in the pit for opera and ballet repertoire.

Fowler will be featured in the upcoming concert with the New River Valley Symphony Orchestra on Feb. 2 and 3, under the baton of faculty member James Glazebrook, as he performs Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33. Performances will take place in the Squires Recital Salon at 290 College Ave. on the Virginia Tech Campus at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 general and $7 for students and may be purchased online or through the Ticket Office located at 129A Squires Student Center.

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