Booker Rowe

Joseph Brodo Chair, given by Peter A. Benoliel

Booker Rowe

Booker Rowe is a violinist with The Philadelphia Orchestra who first appeared as a substitute for the 1968-69 season. He played with Washington’s National Symphony from 1969 to 1970 and returned to The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1970. He became a permanent member of the Orchestra in 1971. In addition to those two orchestras, he has played with the Nashville Symphony and the New Haven Symphony.

Born in Kentucky and raised in Philadelphia, Mr. Rowe received a Bachelor of Music degree from Temple University and a Master of Music from Yale University. As a soloist he has performed concertos from the traditional repertoire, specializing in works by Bach, Bruch, Prokofiev, Saint-Saëns, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, and Vieuxtemps. Mr. Rowe has premiered new works by African-American and other minority composers and in 1986 was soloist with the Chestnut Brass Company of Philadelphia to honor Philadelphia’s early-19th-century African-American composers. In March 1992 he was the featured soloist in José White’s Concerto with the Royal Ethiopian Philharmonic at a benefit concert for Ethiopia at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. In 2008 Mr. Rowe performed a series of lecture-recitals featuring the works of classical composers of African descent.

As a chamber musician, Mr. Rowe has played with the Nashville Symphony String Quartet, the Symphony of the New World String Quartet, the Huntingdon Trio, and the Society of Ancient Instruments of Philadelphia, and he has given joint recitals with his wife, Dr. Patsy Baxter Rowe, a lyric soprano. He has performed with faculty members of the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, Temple University, Settlement Music School, and Lincoln University. Throughout his career Mr. Rowe has been involved in music in churches of many denominations throughout the Philadelphia area; serving as performer and/or contracting musicians. He has also enjoyed music on the lighter side, performing with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops and with such popular artists as Sammy Davis Jr., Isaac Hayes, Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, and Barbra Streisand.

Mr. Rowe teaches violin privately and has taught at Tennessee State University, Wesleyan University, Temple University, Settlement Music School, Community College of Philadelphia, and Lincoln University. In 1985 he coached a series of sessions for the New York Philharmonic’s Orchestral Fellowship Program. Among the awards he has received are the Igor Stravinsky Award, the Henry B. Cabot Award, the National Distinguished American Award, the City of Philadelphia Citation, and the Camerata Award of Excellence.

Photo: Jessica Griffin

Due to rapidly evolving developments, and in accordance with the City of Philadelphia’s recommendation that all large gatherings be suspended to limit community transmission of COVID-19, all scheduled Philadelphia Orchestra rehearsals, performances, and events through May 10, 2020, are cancelled. Learn more