James Bowman



James Thomas Bowman CBE (born November 6, 1941) is a famous countertenor born in Oxford, England. His career spans Opera, Oratorio, Contemporary music and solo recitals. 

Bowman's background is in Anglican church music. He began singing as a boy chorister at Ely Cathedral. He later went to New College, Oxford. He was a member of the New College and Christ Church choirs. Bowman currently sings regularly with the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London.

In 1967 he auditioned for Benjamin Britten's English Opera Group, and was cast as Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, a part which was composed with Alfred Deller's voice in mind, but which Bowman made his own over a long series of performances. He appeared at Glyndebourne in 1970 in Francesco Cavalli's La Calisto (the first countertenor to sing there), at English National Opera in 1971 in Semele, and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1972 in Taverner. In 1973 he created the role of the "Voice of Apollo" in Britten's "Death in Venice".

Bowman no longer appears on stage as an opera singer, but he has appeared at almost every major opera house including La Scala, Milan, Amsterdam, Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Sydney, Verona, Vienna, Strasbourg, Sante Fe, Dallas, and San Francisco.

Early Music

In 1967 Bowman made his London debut at the opening concert of the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Bowman met David Munrow and was invited to join the Early Music Consort of London. The ensemble flourished in the ten years 1967-1976, making numerous recordings and touring extensively. After Munrow's death in 1976, the consort disbanded but Bowman continued to work with former members such as the harpsichordist and conductor Christopher Hogwood and the lutenist Robert Spencer.

Contemporary Music

As well as the association with Britten mentioned above, he has given the world premieres of contemporary compositions by composers such as Geoffrey Burgon, Alan Ridout and Richard Rodney Bennett. In recital he now works frequently with the lutenist Dorothy Linell and the pianist Andrew Plant.

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Composers' compositions