Graham Bowers


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Graham Bowers was born during a World War II bombing raid on Manchester in 1943. Brought up on a mixed diet of his older sisters’ interests in 1940s and 1950s popular music, and his father’s record collection of jazz and country blues, an eclectic mix of artists such as Johnny Ray, Guy Mitchell, Django Rheinhardt, Sidney Bechet and Leadbelly were household names, and marked the milestones of his early life. His interest and fascination in “associative listening” (the association of sound related to life experiences) was thus already formed, and has developed throughout his life acting as the cornerstone and benchmark of his creative output.
His early teenage musical activities were involved in forming and being part of skiffle groups, a genre of music in England championed by Lonnie Donegan, at that time the banjoist in the Chris Barber traditional jazz band. Songs such as ‘Rock Island Line’, ‘Cumberland Gap’ and ‘John Henry’ which although well known to Bowers were new to most post-war English listeners.
Marital and parental duties at the young age of seventeen, and the necessity of providing an income, diverted him into the engineering industry. Extensive technical studies led to a career in draughtmanship and design projects relating to Airframe Structures and Flight Instrumentation within the aeronautical industry (Shackleton Bomber, Vulcan Delta-Wing Bomber, Blue Steel Missile, Jaguar, Tornado, Concorde Prototype).
His knowledge and expertise in sheet-metal fabrication led to his involvement in a small design team set up by Wellcome Medical Equipment, a division of the Wellcome Foundation, to design and manufacture a new concept in Medical Operating Theatre design, many hundreds of which are now installed throughout Europe, and the Middle and Far East. This was followed by his own independent design which was lodged and patented as an invention for the building of environmentally controlled rooms (Medical Operating Theatres, MRI/CAT/PET Scanning Rooms, RF Shielded Rooms). Other areas of work within this field of industry included the design and invention of a rapid deployment environmentally controlled enclosure for emergency medical usage in disaster areas (ongoing).
He also became involved with Amek Systems & Controls, a small company at the time, but which became one of the world leaders in the production of professional audio mixing consoles for the recording and broadcasting industry. His input was the design, realistion and manufacture of the mechanical hardware and styling aspects of all their product lines. The company received the “Queen’s Award to Industry” in 1985, 1986 and 1987.
Although the work in the engineering world of industry limited any serious and professional musical activity for some years, his artistic activities found an outlet in painting and sculpture. It was this work and a chance meeting with the legendary American choreographer Alwin Nikolais which led to his involvement in the world of ‘Performance Theatre’, where he was involved for several years, working and collaborating with theatre directors and choreographers (Royston Maldoom, Shelley Lee, Peter Royston, Tamara McLorg, Ailsa Burke), dancers (Elaine McDonald, Paul Russell, Andrea Durant, Frank McConnell), composers (Gordon McPherson, Ian Mellish, Tony Moss, Jon Anderson, William Henshall), musicians (Peter Gallagher) on large and small scale productions, from regional experimental theatre groups through international ballet companies to international rock tours.
His approach to musical composition developed out of his life long fascination with “associative listening” and evolved into a genre of music which he describes as "Sound Theatre". His debut album, "Of Mary's Blood" was released in 1995 on the Red Wharf label. The first in a trilogy, "Of Mary's Blood" combined classical, progressive and experimental music into one long continuous track. Produced and recorded with Peter Gallagher, with musical contributions from Mark Porter, it received critical acclaim from the international music press (The Wire, Audion, EST, e/i, Mouvement-Nouveau) as did all of his subsequent releases. It was followed in 1997 by "Transgression", and the trilogy finished up a year later with "Eternal Ghosts", featuring musical contributions from Tim Franks, Peter Gallagher, Mark Porter, Jim Keddie, and William Henshall. The CDs of each published work were accompanied with a fold-out booklet containing a triptych of his surrealistic paintings.
After an absence due to a serious accident, he wrote and recorded several sound scores for fine art animation films, in collaboration with film-maker Clive Walley; these included an MTV ident and a series of “Short Shorts” for the British television channel S4C. He has also produced several of his own short films notably “Hiraeth”, “conception deception discovery” and “Yr Aelwyd” all of which have been shown at international film festivals. “Yr Aelwyd”, a 36 minute film set to the music of Tobias Fischer and Miina Virtanen, won the best film in the Avant-Garde category at the Swansea Film Festival 2010.
Sculpting has resulted in private and public commissions (St. David’s Hall, the national concert theatre of Wales, The Space at Dundee) and the creation and realisation of animatronic characters for a television series in collaboration with the writer and creator of “The Bradshaws”, Buzz Hawkins. Bowers finally returned to his own full length conceptual compositions of "Sound Theatre" with "Pilgrim".
The musical works have been played and written about extensively in recent years, receiving extended half-hour and two-hour air-play features on national and regional radio stations in the UK, Holland, Germany, Australia and the USA.

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