English countertenor James Bowman was born in Oxford on 6 November 1941, and was head chorister at Ely Cathedral. Later he was a choral scholar at New College, Oxford.
From 1965 he sang with David Munrow's Early Music Consort. In 1967 he sang at the opening concert of the Queen Elizabeth Hall. He began to make recordings with David Willcocks on EMI, and made over 180 recordings for major labels with leading conductors.
From 1967 he sang with Benjamin Britten's English Opera Group, and in 1970 was the first countertenor to sing at Glyndebourne. He sang on most of the world's major opera stages, including at English National Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala, Palais Garnier, Sydney Opera House, Vienna State Opera, and in Strasbourg, Santa Fe, Dallas and San Francisco.
Bowman gave first performances of many contemporary works, including Britten's Canticle IV: The Journey of the Magi and works by Richard Rodney Bennett, Alan Ridout and Geoffrey Burgon. He commissioned Michael Nyman's Self-laudatory hymn of Inanna and her omnipotence.
James Bowman died on 27 March 2023, aged eighty-one.
CD Spotlight. Passionate and Surprising - David McGuinness and friends, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'A beguiling issue in superb sound and catchy presentation.'
Ensemble. Infectious Enthusiasm - Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble, heard by Robert Hugill
Ensemble. Beauty of Line - Andreas Scholl in London, heard by Robert Hugill