Michael Lowenstern

Michael Lowenstern

Anthony McGill Reading Michael Lowenstern 4 minutes Next Tina Wang

Why I Chose Backun

“I’ve known Morrie for about 30 years, and way back in the beginning he promised me that he’d make me a bass clarinet someday. I told him that when that ever happens, I’d play it. So here we are — and I’m thrilled to be joining the Backun family.”


Michael Lowenstern is widely recognized as one of the most innovative bass clarinetists in the world, and has performed, recorded, and toured as a soloist and with ensembles of every variety.

Lowenstern’s first clarinet was the one that his mother played, and then his sister played, and then after a “we’re-not-going-to-buy-you-an-instrument-you’re-just-going-to-quit-in-two-years-so-you’re-playing-this-clarinet-or-nothing” conversation with his parents…he played. Shortly after becoming last-chair clarinet in sixth grade, his band director moved him to bass clarinet where he “would do less damage.” And, so it began.

In 1982, he began formal training with John Bruce Yeh of the Chicago Symphony (who reintroduced Lowenstern to the soprano clarinet—needless to say, a new one), and in 1985, he graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy, having studied with Richard MacDowell. At the Eastman School of Music, Lowenstern was in the inaugural class of Charles Neidich, after which he received a Fulbright grant to study with Harry Sparnaay at the Sweelinck Conservatorium. Returning to the U.S., Lowenstern resumed studies with Neidich at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he received his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in performance and composition in 1999.

Lowenstern’s performance career has been eclectic; he was clarinetist with the Grammy award-winning Klezmatics, while at the same time Bass Clarinetist with the Grammy award-winning New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. He also performed and recorded regularly as a member of the

Steve Reich Ensemble, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, John Zorn, Bang on a Can All-Stars, and Minneapolis-based Zeitgeist. In addition to his own large catalog of bass clarinet solo works, he has had over 150 pieces of work written for or dedicated to him, and has appeared on over sixty recordings, three of which have won Grammy awards. Lowenstern has also released eight solo albums…none of which won Grammy awards. There’s still time.

In the late-1990s, Lowenstern began a second career (his wife called it a “double-major”), and began a 25-year career in marketing and advertising. During this time, he formed and led early digital marketing departments for “name-brand” agencies like Grey, McCann/MRM R/GA, and Amazon.com’s internal agency, winning industry accolades for his work on Pepsi, E*Trade, Samsung, VW and many others.

In 1997, Lowenstern launched earspasm.com, initially as a website to market his first CD, “Spasm.” Over the past quarter-century, Earspasm has expanded into the most comprehensive online clarinet and bass clarinet shop in the world, serving single-reed players from across the globe. In January 2024, Lowenstern retired from the corporate world to focus on Earspasm, the bass clarinet, and teaching.

As an educator, he has served on the faculties of the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music and New York University. But it was his work on YouTube that provided the outlet he was looking for: a place to reach players that were not necessarily interested in playing music for a living, but rather enjoying music for a lifetime. Over the past 14 years, Lowenstern has amassed a following of 60,000 subscribers, with over 10 million views and counting, and his irreverent style has been the subject of much debate online.

Lowenstern is a Backun Artist, having contributed to the design of their new bass clarinet, and plays Vandoren mouthpieces, ligatures and reeds. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and partner Katherine Cooke, and dog Piper.

Performs On

Q Series Bass Clarinet

Lumière Bb Clarinet

Lumière A Clarinet

Photo Credit: Bill Wadman

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