Calvin Bowman, who tutored music at St Hilda's from 1994-1995, has become the first Australian composer exclusively signed to Decca/Universal Music Australia (UMA). In addition, Bowman is the first Australian to be recorded on Decca since the two Grainger discs with Benjamin Britten et al decades ago.
Referred to in the announcement as a 'remarkable Australian musician', Bowman joins UMA with world-première recordings of his songs on Decca (Australia).
A composer, pianist and organist, Bowman graduated from 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. He has also been a former Senior Lecturer in Composition and University Organist at The Australian National University.
"Bach is my teacher," Bowman declares.
"Although there’s nothing of his contrapuntal complexity in my music at all. But from him I learn about the necessity of working hard, to put every note in its proper place, and to create a completely coherent and heartfelt musical statement."
His love for Bach led to his performances of 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 marathon seventeen-hour sitting. For the latter feat he was nominated for a Helpmann Award.
Bowman is also a prolific composer who specialises in artsong. To date he has written nearly a hundred songs with more constantly on the way. 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.
Among song composers, Bowman’s interests reach back to the troubadours and encompass Dowland, Schumann, Warlock, Gurney and Michael Head. And it is in its musical intimacy that Bowman finds the delight of song.
"Listening to and performing works of other artsong composers I admire is like having a conversation with friends," said Bowman.
The array of poets represented on this recording, range from Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter de la Mare, to forgotten names like the ‘Poet of the Rockies’ Thomas Hornsby Ferril (1896–1988) or the effervescent English poet Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864). The collection’s title – Real and Right and True – is taken from a set of nine poems by celebrated Australian cartoonist, writer and painter Michael Leunig, whose beautiful painting ‘Autumn Harvest’ also graces the cover artwork for this album.
"It is a joy to be able to represent one of Australia’s most acute colourists in music, Calvin Bowman, on Decca (Australia). He is at once, a pianist of distinction, a composer of exquisite subtlety and a musician of huge accomplishment. It is a pleasure to be able to work with him," said Cyrus Meher-Homji, General Manager, Classics & Jazz, Universal Music Australia.
Real and Right and True – Songs by Calvin Bowman will be released on 13 July 2018 followed by a launch concert event featuring the performers on the album, at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Saturday 21 July at 6:30pm.
St Hilda's College is a living community and residential college on campus at the University of Melbourne.
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