Rowan Puig Davis


Photos by Matt Dine


Dalí Quartet International Music Festival, Summer 2015, Philadelphia; CMI Chamber Orchestra, Summer 2016–17, Winter 2020, Summer 2021–22, San Antonio

What is your earliest memory of classical music?

I’m not sure, but probably in Looney Tunes or other cartoons. My mom told me that when I was in her womb, she would listen to a lot of classical music. I guess I’ve been hearing it since before I was born!

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career?

It was when I was about 13 years old. A musician friend had recently invited me to a music program inspired by El Sistema, and from the very first day I loved the experience of it. That first day we didn’t even have our own instruments, but I just liked the idea of a group of people playing music.

What do you like most about being in TŌN? Any favorite memories?

I love being surrounded by such amazing musicians who come from different musical backgrounds. I’ve learned to be a better music professional, and my bass colleagues have taught me the different schools of bass performance and technique. TŌN is a place to put into practice all that you have learned as a musician.

I remember playing Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony with the orchestra. The bass section was excited, because it is one of the many pieces that is asked for orchestral auditions. Every time we got to the hard and exciting excerpts, we would play them with such confidence. In the end, we would always be smiling at each other.

What do you think orchestra concerts should look like in the 21st Century?

Orchestra concerts should become more and more accessible. The wall between the audience members and the musicians should continue to be dissolved. I think the element of musical education should be incorporated into the concerts. Besides the program notes, the orchestra members should give a small intro to the music that is being performed and explain why.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My biggest inspiration is my first professor, Pablo Santa Cruz. His encouragement and support still go as far as today after 11 years.

Which composer or genre of music do you feel you connect with the most?

Definitely folk music

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it?

My favorite piece of music is the String Quartet No. 2 by Johannes Brahms. The way it’s written embodies a sense of intimacy between the players and its listeners. I think it is meant to be experienced in a more intimate setting.

What has been your favorite experience as a musician?

The fact that I can interact with different people and have personal relationships with them is very enriching.

Favorite non-classical musician or band

Josh Garrels and Avishai Cohen

If you could play another instrument, what would it be?

Definitely the piano!

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

I could be doing many things, like writing a book, making a podcast, or working with children and youth.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with and why?

Josh Garrels, Avishai Cohen, and Bjork because their music is very compelling and unique.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us

Right after my first year of music playing, I was already part of the juvenile symphony orchestra of Puerto Rico. In one of my first concerts, I played Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, and another small piece. I’m still shocked that I was able to play that music with only one year of playing my instrument.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician

Do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not compare yourself with other people because we are not all the same. Take it one day at a time. Remember to be grateful for the opportunity to play music and remember to always enjoy it.