Calvin Bowman, Australian composer, pianist and organist, joins the Decca Australia label with a world première recordings of his songs, Real and Right and True released on July 13, 2018.
The title Real and Right and True, is taken from a set of nine poems by celebrated Australian cartoonist, writer and painter Michael Leunig, whose painting ‘Autumn Harvest’ also graces the cover of this album.
Bowman himself is the pianist on this recording with his chosen singers soprano Sara Macliver, tenor Paul McMahon and bass-baritone Christopher Richardson. Australian pianist Ian Munro also joins as piano duet partner in the Three Sea Songs, settings of Walter de la Mare.
Calvin Bowman was born in 1972. He is a graduate of the University of Melbourne, and was the first Australian to graduate with a Doctor of Musical Arts from Yale University, with the assistance of a Fulbright scholarship. He is a former Senior Lecturer in Composition and University Organist at The Australian National University.
Bowman is a prolific composer who specialises in art song of which he has written nearly a hundred songs with more 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 Art Song Award.
Among song composers, Bowman is inspired by the troubadours and an eclectic mix which includes Dowland, Schumann, Warlock, Gurney and Michael Head. It is in the musical intimacy of song that Bowman finds delight. “Listening to and performing works of other art song composers I admire is like having a conversation with friends,” he says. The 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) and the effervescent English poet Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864).
It is to JS Bach, however, that Bowman looks for ultimate inspiration. ‘Bach is my teacher,’ he 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.’ Bowman’s 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 which he earned a nomination for a Helpmann Award.