English countertenor James Thomas Bowman died today at the age of 81. He was kind of a pioneer in this domain and established the countertenor voice in mainstream musical life. His career spanned opera, oratorio, contemporary music and solo recitals. Bowman made over 130 recordings with all the major record labels and also worked with many leading conductors including Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Frans Brüggen, Christopher Hogwood, David Willcocks, John Eliot Gardiner, Roger Norrington, and Gustav Leonhardt.

Bowman’s background was in Anglican church music. He was educated at The King’s School, Ely, where he began singing as a boy chorister at Ely Cathedral, progressing to become head chorister. After the traditional rest when his voice broke he returned as a bass but around 1959 gave his first public performance as a countertenor.

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