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Calvin Bowman : Represented Artist

As a composer, I have been described as a 'radical conservative' on more than one occasion. I wear this moniker as a badge of honour whilst being fully cognizant of the fact that it carries great responsibilities.

Random Audio Sample: Now touch the air softly (soprano with full orchestra) by Calvin Bowman, from the CD Emma Matthews in Monte Carlo


Photo of Calvin Bowman

Photo: Terry Lane

Calvin Bowman was born in Ararat, Victoria, in 1972. He is a graduate of the University of Melbourne, and was the first Australian to graduate with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale University, with the assistance of a Fulbright scholarship.

As a composer Bowman has been much influenced by the English pastoralists and his beloved Bach. In particular, his art songs, which number approximately eighty, have been lauded for their careful craftsmanship and beauty. He is a laureate of the Ned Rorem Award for Song Composition, the Diana Barnhart American Song Competition, and the English Poetry and Song Society Artsong Award. His song Now Touch the Air Softly, recorded by Emma Matthews with the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon, was nominated for Best New Composition in the 2009 Limelight Awards, and in late 2009 Sir Neville Marriner conducted two performances of his song cycle I would sing a little while with Jacqueline Porter and the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. Sir Neville described the work as 'an absolute gem of twenty-first century imagination'.

Bowman's interest in vocal music naturally led to the writing of his first and only opera to date, Lost to the Music, to a libretto by John Marsden. A second major work in this vein has been commissioned by Victorian Opera for performance in 2013. Dr Bowman's major awards include an Australia Council Fellowship, and he has also been commissioned by organisations such as Ars Musica Australis and Symphony Australia, as well as by many individuals and ensembles.

As a performer he has presented the complete Bach organ works twice in public, once in 1995 and then again in 2009 for the Melbourne International Festival where he performed them in a single seventeen-hour sitting. For the latter feat he was nominated for a Helpmann Award. As keyboardist he has premiered works by Philip Glass, Peter Sculthorpe, Ross Edwards, Richard Mills, Graeme Koehne, Andrew Schultz and others, and appeared as soloist with many of the major Australian orchestras.

Calvin Bowman is a member of Australian Mensa and a life member of the Australian Fulbright Association. He is currently Senior Lecturer in Composition and University Organist at The Australian National University.


Calvin Bowman — current to February 2012

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Die linien des lebens : the lines of life (soprano with full orchestra) (2010) Written as part of an artist's residency at Monsalvat, Melbourne
To daffadills : SATB choir (2006) Commissioned as part of the Composers_Connecting_Communities project, an Australia Council initiative.

Analysis & Media

- Article: Town Hall proms end year on eclectic note