Kevin Bowyer, organist



Photograph of Kevin Bowyer (© Kevin Bowyer)
© Kevin Bowyer

Kevin Bowyer was born in Southend-on-Sea in January 1961 and studied with Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, David Sanger, Virginia Black and Paul Steinitz. He has won first prizes in five international organ competitions and has gained a reputation for playing unusual and new music and for taking on “impossible” projects. In 1987 he gave the world première of Kaikhosru Sorabji’s two hour solo Symphony for Organ, considered “impossible” ever since its publication in 1925. Other UK premières have included works by Brian Ferneyhough (Sieben Sterne), Charles Wuorinen (Natural Fantasy) and Iannis Xenakis (Gmeeoorh). Sorabji’s massive Second Organ Symphony (1929–32, about 6½ hours) is scheduled for performance in 2009.

At home Kevin has played solo and concerto concerts in most of the major venues and festivals. Trips and tours abroad have taken him throughout Europe, North America, Australia and Japan. In summer 2003 he played the complete solo organ Symphonies of Widor and Vierne and the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen in three concerts in the same week, 16 hours of music, at St. Giles, Cripplegate.

Kevin has released a great number of solo CDs, many of which have won awards. These include many landmark recordings of contemporary music as well as the complete organ music of J S Bach and music by Alkan, Brahms, Schumann, Reubke, Hindemith, Schönberg, Messiaen, Alain, etc. Jonathan Wearn, writing in MusicWeb International, described him as “one of the world’s hardiest and most formidable virtuosos … probably Britain’s most formidable organist …” and Gramophone magazine described him as “unique”.

He is a popular teacher, working for the St. Giles International Organ School and at the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Kevin has lectured and given masterclasses in many countries and appears regularly on the staff of the Oundle Summer School for Young Organists. He is Organist to the University of Glasgow and runs an extensive recital series there which includes many new commissions. In this capacity he will be premiereing works by Anthony Gilbert, Michael Finnissy, Edward Gregson, Chris Dench, Arthur Butterworth, Iain Matheson and Alan Gibbs in 2006. Performances of works by Dennis Báthory-Kitsz, Charles Camilleri, Ian Shaw, Paul Ayres, Haflidi Hallgrímsson, Claude Loyola Allgén and Jan Vriend are planned for 2007.

His article, “Twentieth Century European Organ Music – A Toast”, cast as a play set in a Cotswolds pub, in the Incorporated Association of Organists’ Millennium Book was described by one reviewer as “quite simply the best piece of writing on organ music that I have ever seen.”

Kevin’s other interests include reading widely, obscure cinema, real ale, malt whiskies and looking at the sea. His favourite pastime is sleeping.

Further information can be found on the artist’s webpage: www.kevinbowyer.net.

Articles by Kevin Bowyer

Read Kevin Bowyer’s extensive article Sorabji und die Orgel; here only available in its German translation by Wolgang Kleber.