Robert Bowen is a Professor of Music and head of the Music Theory program. He completed his Ph.D. at Princeton University, studying composition with Steven Mackey and theory with Scott Burnham. Before turning to composition, Bowen began his musical studies in jazz, first as a student of Rick Helzer and later with the "comprovising" pianist Larry Karush. Consequently, Bowen's compositions meld lingering traces of his jazz roots with the forms and pitch narratives of the Baroque and High Classical Era—the music he and his Mt. SAC students explore daily in the classroom. These compositions have been performed in concert and in radio broadcasts in California, the Midwest, throughout the Northeast and abroad by ensembles such as the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet and the Relâche Ensemble of Philadelphia. As a composer, he has twice earned the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award/Foundation Grant as well as prizes from the Latin American Music Center of Indiana University, Metropolitan Theaters, and the Arts Fund of Santa Barbara.
Bowen's interests as a theorist range from the narrative possibilities of recurrence to the intersection of musical form and game structures. Since arriving at Mt. SAC in 2006, he has focused on theory pedagogy, aural skills pedagogy, and the core sequence of courses for Mt. SAC music majors. Changes to this core sequence include the addition of iPod-enabled listening-based analysis, a comprehensive aurals diagnostic for beginning music students, one-on-one and small-group remediation sessions run by an SI (Supplemental Instructor) and coordinated through Tutorial Services, electronic submission of weekly performance assignments, and, above all, an overhaul of the music theory and aural skills curriculum in order to maximize successful (junior-level) transfer outcomes to common destinations for Mt. SAC music majors, including CSUF, CSULB, CSUN and UCI.
Before joining the Mt. SAC faculty, Bowen taught theory and composition at Moorpark College, West Chester University, and the George School of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the College Music Society, NACUSA Los Angeles, the Society for Music Theory, and ASCAP.