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Artist Hyperion Records
Bowman, James (countertenor)
© Alvaro Yanez

James Bowman (countertenor)

James Bowman (1941-2023) was one of the world's foremost and most influential countertenors. His career spanned opera, oratorio, contemporary music and recitals. After education at Oxford, he made his debut with Benjamin Britten at the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1967 and was soon in demand on the opera stage and on the concert platform. He first appeared at Sadler's Wells in 1967, Glyndebourne in 1970, at the English National Opera in 1971 and at Covent Garden in 1972 and his many opera engagements abroad included the Paris L'Opéra, Théâtre des Champs Elysées and L'Opéra Comique, La Scala Milan, La Fenice Venice, the Festival of Aix-en-Provence, the Sydney Opera House and in the USA at San Francisco, Dallas and Santa Fé. From the mid-1980s his career switched largely to concert and recital work, mostly on the continent: in France in particular he achieved near cult status, giving hundreds of concerts, for which he was awarded the 'La Medaille de la Ville de Paris' in recognition of his long-standing contribution to the capital’s musical life: in 1992 the French Government honoured him with the nomination of 'Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres'.

James Bowman made around 180 recordings with all the major record labels and with such directors as Brüggen, Harnoncourt, Leonhardt, Hogwood, King and Mackerras. His recorded repertoire covered not only a considerable amount of Baroque works but also embraced Orff's Carmina Burana, Jacques Loussier's Lumières and Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a work with which he had a particularly long association. He appeared on nearly 50 Hyperion recordings with Robert King and The King's Consort including the complete sets of Purcell Odes, Sacred Music and Secular Songs, the Handel oratorios Joshua, Judas Maccabaeus, Deborah, The Occasional Oratorio and Joseph and his Brethren and the opera Ottone, two solo discs of Handel arias from the operas and the oratorios and the Italian duets, Couperin Trois Leçons de Ténèbres, music by Schütz and Gabrieli, Dowland lute songs, works by Scarlatti and Hasse and discs of sacred music by Schelle, Kuhnau and Knüpfer. With The King’s Consort he also gave hundreds of concerts across the world.

James Bowman premiered many important contemporary compositions, including works by Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett, Peter Maxwell Davies, Richard Rodney Bennett, Robin Holloway, Geoffrey Burgon, Alan Ridout and Michael Nyman.

In 1996 James Bowman received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1997 he was awarded a CBE for his services to music and in 1998 he was made an honorary fellow of New College, Oxford.


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