40 year-old Christian Howes grew up in Columbus, Ohio and received a degree in Philosophy from the Ohio State University. After spending 8 years based in New York City, he has recently returned to Columbus and now manages a dual residence in Columbus and New York City.
As an educator, performer and composer, Christian Howes has gained great notoriety and respect from critics and players alike. Christian was a favorite of the late Les Paul, with whom he worked for 11 years. In recent years, Howes has become an in-demand violinist on the New York scene, performing and recording with a bevy of jazz artists, including alto saxophonist Greg Osby, pianist D.D. Jackson, guitarists Les Paul, Frank Vignola, Joel Harrison, drummers Dafnis Prieto, Jack DeJohnette, Dennis Chambers, Dave Weckl, bassists Richard Bona and Victor Wooten, vibraphonist Dave Samuels’ Caribbean Jazz Project, crossover pioneers Spyro Gyra, and a 4-year chair in Bill Evans Soulgrass.
Christian served for three years as an Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music after founding his own annual Creative Strings Workshop and Festival in 2003. The annual week-long conference provides teen and adult string players an opportunity to experience a rigorous schedule of public performances, jams, rehearsals, and clinics, all with a focus on improvisational music. Christian collaborates with string teachers around the world, with the generous sponsorship of Yamaha and D’Addario, to provide workshops and guest performances for K-12 string programs, college, and private studios.
In August 2011, Christian was ranked as the #1 violinist in the Downbeat Critics Poll “Rising Stars.” He was a nominee for the Jazz Journalists Association’s “Violinist Of The Year” in 2011. In 2012, he received the Residency Partnership from Chamber Music America for his work in outreach with orchestral education programs. He regularly tours throughout Asia, Europe, and the U.S. as a leader of his own groups and a soloist with orchestras. Says All About Jazz, ”as a jazz violinist he has no peer.” The Minneapolis Tribune called Christian “arguably the most intriguing young violinist in jazz.” According to the Chicago Reader, “Not since Jean Luc Pnty has a violinist ranged from pure classical to fuzz-tone rock to convincing jazz with such authority.”
After releasing a string of independently released CDs as a leader, he signed with Resonance Records in 2008 and released two critically acclaimed CDs. The first, “Heartfelt,” featuring pianist Roger Kellaway, features ballads and lyrical works. “Out of the Blue” released in 2010 features guitarist Robben Ford, and demonstrates a wide range of modern and traditional sensibilities, steeped in the blues. His upcoming late 2012/early 2013 release, “Southern Exposure,” featuring accordianist Richard Galliano, draws from Spansh, Brazilian, Cuban and otherwise hispanic influences. A former Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music, he is also the founder of the Creative Strings Workshop and Festival, which convenes during the first week of July every year in Columbus, Ohio. Says Howes, “The Creative Strings Workshop and Festival offers string players from Columbus and around the world an opportunity to study improvisation, composition, and styles outside the realm of classical music, while bringing the city of Columbus a plethora of talent and musical energy.”
(for a full set of downloadable press photos, please click here)
“It used to be you could hardly find a good jazz violinist. Nowadays there are four or five really good players, but there is nobody better than this guy”
– Les Paul
“Christian Howes is arguably the most intriguing young violinist in jazz”
– Tom Surowicz, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“As a jazz violinist today, he has no peer”
– Michael Bailey, All About Jazz
“Not since Jean-Luc Ponty has a violinist ranged from pure classical to fuzz-tone rock to convincing jazz with such authority”
– Neil Tesser, Chicago Reader
“Howes is a jazz player, first and foremost — one whose solid, classically trained technique provides the freedom to fully express an expansive improvisational imagination”
– Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times
“On his second CD Howes shows, that even at this relatively early stage, he is one of the best jazz violinists around”
– Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene
Sample School Visit Press Release
For Immediate Release
Premiere Jazz Violinist, Christian Howes,
Breathes New Life to Strings in Pennsylvania
#1 Artist in Downbeat Critics Poll to challenge Tyrone students to think outside the box
TYRONE, PN (September 29, 2011) On Wednesday October 5th, one of the world’s most acclaimed jazz violinists, Christian Howes, will be coming to Grier School in Tyrone to introduce local string students to the art of improvisation, contemporary music and modern technology.
While most classically trained violinists may excel at Mozart and Bach, few venture off the written page of music to explore their instruments through creative improvisation or other styles of music such as jazz. “String instruments are usually associated only with classical music,” said Howes from his home in Columbus, Ohio. “But so many string players are starting to see that we can have original voices too, and that classical music is only the beginning of a journey to explore those creative outlets that we all need to truly express ourselves.”
Following his workshop, Howes will perform at the school with his quartet, showcasing his edgy and unexpected take on the violin that combines rock, Americana, neo-soul, classical and modern jazz. Christian will be joined by acclaimed artists, Cedric Easton (drums), Hamilton Hardin (keyboards), and Chris Bates (bass).
While Howes has been invited to perform around the world, the artist has always remained committed to community outreach. “That’s why I always try to cultivate a renewed appreciation for the instrument and for live music wherever I go.”
Although his stay at Grier will only last a day, students at the school (and around the world) can continue to study and grow with Howes through his innovate Creative Strings Academy online membership program, through which students can benefit from live group lessons, private lessons through Skype, video tutorials and more.
About Christian Howes
As an educator, performer and composer, Christian Howes has gained great notoriety and respect from critics and fellow musicians alike. Recently voted #1 jazz violinist in the Downbeat Critics Poll and nominated Rising Star in violin by the Jazz Journalists Association, Christian has been called “arguably the most intriguing young violinist in jazz” by the Minneapolis Tribune. A former Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music, the 40-year old violinist is widely regarded as a leading string educator in jazz and improvisation. Howes conducts clinics and master classes around the world, and is the founder of the Creative Strings Workshop, an annual international music festival based in Columbus, Ohio. Howes endorses Yamaha violins and D’Addario strings. For more information, visit www.christianhowes.com.
For more information and interview requests, please contact:
Educational Clinics Offered
1) Free Improvisation: Through “non-tonal” improvisation, we can tap into a student’s musicality in a way that is accessible for all levels and styles. You and your students will be creating throughout and feel empowered by the end of the session to apply what you learned.
See example video on the top right of this page: http://creativestrings.christianhowes.com/christian-howes-instructional-videos/
2) Composition: Students learn quickly to compose in small groups using “composition games.” At the end of the session, they perform their pieces for each other.
See example video on this page: http://christianhowes.com/alternative-styles-curriculum/
3) “Improvising with Pachelbel” – Easy Tonal Improvisation: Through a series of easy playing and reading exercises, participants will learn how to create functional melodies over chord progressions. Through the lens of Pachelbel’s Canon, melodic improvisation and composition are demystified as we discover how to easily construct melodies following three simple rules. Anyone with a 6th grade reading level will learn how to compose melodies, bass lines, and counter-melodies in many styles. Christian offers this course through a series of eight video lessons in the “Creative Strings Academy,” and you can preview the first lesson on his YouTube channel here:
Students learn to easily improvise over the Pachelbel progression in bluegrass, reggae, waltz, rock, and classical styles! This can be performed during the final concert and expanded to other tunes endlessly.
4) Conducted Group Improvisation: Using cue cards and a system of hand signals, Christian conducts a large ensemble in “free” improvisation. This is a lot of fun and can be incorporated into the final performance.
5) ELECTRIC Strings: Learn the “A-Z” of electric strings, including amplification, electric instruments, pickups, effects, loop pedals, and more. Teachers will learn ways to bring electric technology into your classrooms. (This can be incorporated into other clinics or rehearsals without the need for a dedicated session)
6) Alternative Styles Overview: Learn the stylistic basics for strings in jazz, folk, blues, rock music, etc. Modern styles call for specific articulations and techniques, including strumming, chopping, swinging, looping, modal improv, vamps, and more. (This can be incorporated into other clinics or rehearsals without the need for a dedicated session)
7) Teacher Training: A teacher training component of your residency is highly recommended! Often local dealerships are willing to sponsor teacher training sessions, and/or your district may be able to fund an “in-service” session from separate funding sources. View this video to see what teachers had to say about working with Christian at Bob Gillespie’s annual Ohio State University string teacher training workshop:
8) Assembly “Informance” for Elementary School: In this 30-40 minute performance and talk, Mr. Howes inspires and motivates young students with a theme of “practice makes perfect,” emphasizing that, no matter what their passions, the important thing is to start young and practice a discipline. Reliving his experience since age five, Christian performs well-known pieces, beginning with “Twinkle…” progressing through Bach, Vivaldi, Paganini, and others. He then finds his way to bluegrass, blues, jazz, and other popular songs, utilizing a loop pedal and plenty of special effects including wah-wah, distortion pedals, and more.
9) Online Curriculum – Before and after your event you can engage your students in deeper learning through “Creative Strings Academy.” The online curriculum includes over 150 instructional videos, worksheets, audio play along files, ebooks, regular live streaming Q and A, lesson plans, homework, and more. Christian also offers streaming clinics customized for your classroom. The classroom licenses are very affordable and you can apply for funding through technology grants. If you’re simply interested in learning more about it, you can sign up for a free trial here: http://creativestrings.christianhowes.com/
–Morning: 3-hour combined clinic/rehearsal with area high school music students in hall –Lunch
–Afternoon: Elementary Assembly
–After school: 2-3 hour teacher training session (hosted by local Yamaha dealer)
–Morning: 2-hour combined clinic
–Middle school classroom visit (1 hour)
–Middle school classroom visit
–After School: rehearsal with combined high school orchestra – 2 hours
–Morning television/radio interview
–Middle school visit: home school event, visit with jazz band, etc.
–Afternoon elementary assembly
–After School: dress rehearsal, concert