Short biography

Mark Bowden is a composer of chamber, orchestral and vocal music. His work has been described as ‘an exceptional and absorbing pleasure’ [The Guardian], ‘conjuring up magic and mystery’ [Opera], ‘invigorating’ [The Times] and ‘powerfully dramatic’ [BBC Radio 3].

Mark came to public attention in 2006 when he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize for his first orchestral commission, Sudden Light (BBC Symphony Orchestra). Further orchestral commissions followed before being appointed Resident Composer with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, a post he held for four years resulting in a series of major new works including a cello concerto (Lyra); a percussion concerto (Heartland); and a 40-minute cantata for soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra (A Violence of Gifts). More recent works include an orchestral suite Three Interludes commissioned by Welsh National Opera, and Sapiens, a saxophone concerto for the London Sinfonietta.

Mark’s catalogue of chamber and vocal music includes The Breaking Wheel for clarinet and piano (Little Missenden Festival), Five Memos for violin and piano (London Music Masters), Parable for solo saxophone (London Sinfonietta), Lines Written a Few Miles Below for violin and electronics, (Rambert Dance Company), We Have Found a Better Land (BBC National Chorus of Wales), The Soul Candle, for baritone and piano (Jeremy Huw Williams) and many other works for performers with whom he has developed close partnerships, including: Arditti Quartet, Chroma, Fidelio Trio, Kokoro, Ostrava Banda, Philharmonia Orchestra, Spitalfields Festival, and the London Handel Festival amongst others. Mark has also created vocal works for the stage including The Mare’s Tale for narrator and ensemble (Arts Council of Wales). His abiding interest in dance has resulted in much collaboration with choreographers.

Born in South Wales in 1979, Mark studied composition with Richard Steinitz and Julian Anderson at Huddersfield University and the Royal College of Music. He continued his studies at Dartington and on the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, at Aldeburgh. Mark has enjoyed residencies and fellowships with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Rambert Dance Company, Aldeburgh Music, Handel House Museum, Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge, the Visby International Centre for Composers in Sweden, and the MacDowell Colony in the US. His music is performed at festivals and events throughout the UK, Europe and the US and can be heard regularly on radio stations around the world. Mark is Professor of Composition at Royal Holloway, University of London. He was chair of the British section of the International Society for Contemporary Music from 2014-2018. In 2015 he was awarded the Welsh Music Guild’s Glanville Jones Award and in 2016 he received a British Composer Award. He was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award in 2019 and is currently writing his first full-length opera for Welsh National Opera.

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