Dr. Owen (left) works with a student during a lesson.
Instructor of Cello Dr. Patrick M. Owen (IAC 91-92, IAA 92-93) joined the faculty of Interlochen Arts Academy in the fall of 2018, following in the footsteps of his own former instructor, Crispin Campbell.
Dr. Owen graduated from the Academy in 1993 and continued his studies at Eastman School of Music. He received his master’s degree from The Juilliard School and his doctorate from Boston University.
Dr. Owen has made solo and ensemble appearances around the world. He made his Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Concert Hall in 2001, and spent four years as principal cellist of the Boston Philharmonic. Other appointments include the Charlotte Symphony (as Associate Principal Cello), the Portland String Quartet, and a teaching position in the New England Conservatory Preparatory Division.
We caught up with Dr. Owen to welcome him back to Interlochen and to find out more about his personal and professional interests.
Who’s your favorite composer?
I don’t think I have a favorite composer. I do have favorite concerts or pieces that I’ve played in the past few years: Janáček’s second quartet, the Brahms Double Concerto in A Minor…. I played Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the complete play recently, and that was something I’d never done before.
If you had to play any other instrument as your primary instrument, what would you play?
If I could be really great, like world-class, I’d be a singer. If I could pick a musician who I’d like to be, I’d be Luciano Pavarotti or Franco Corelli.
How did you decide to play the cello?
My dad was an amateur cellist. He’s a scientist, and worked for Dow Chemical Company in Midland until he retired. I used to have a poster in my room of Theodore William Richards, the first American to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry. There was a quote on it: “If I were asked to select the best chemist in any gathering, I should first find out who played the cello best.”
Who were your musical idols growing up? Which musicians in particular inspired you?
The great cellists, of course: Pablo Casals, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo Yo Ma, Anner Bylsma. And I think any string player would say Jascha Heifetz. I’d also add pianists like Sviatoslav Richter and Arturo BenedettI Michelangeli.
Tell us a little bit about your instrument.
I actually bought this cello when I was a senior at Interlochen, because I needed a better instrument. It was made by a man from Bern, Switzerland named Otto Karl Schenk. His assistant flew into Midland, Michigan with this cello in the winter of 1993, and my parents drove her from the airport to Interlochen. I tried the cello in the Dendrinos Chapel and Recital Hall. Then she left, and she said, “if you decide to keep it, you can have it, otherwise you have to send it back.” I just imagine what it must have been like for her, coming into the northwoods of Michigan in the middle of winter.
What’s your most embarrassing music-related moment?
There are so many! I think the worst are probably in my dreams. I have this recurring anxiety dream about performances; I don’t think it happens because of performance anxiety anymore, but because of anxiety about anything in my life. In the dream, I’m backstage, about to go onstage to play a concerto I’ve never heard before, and I don’t have the music. I go out there, and I start, and somehow I figure it out. Then my cello starts to fall apart, and I wake up.
What’s your favorite season?
Probably now—early or mid fall. Any time I can play golf.
What’s your go-to Melody Freeze treat?
I actually haven’t been to the Melody Freeze since I was a camper. They used to have this thing that was like a milkshake, but a bit more watery—more milk and less ice cream—and they used to put Butterfingers in it. I don’t know if they still make it.
Do you have any hidden talents?
My biggest hobby outside of music is golf. I also like cooking.
Want to study with Dr. Owen? Apply to Interlochen Arts Academy to audition for a place in his studio.