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Pamela Bowden

Contralto, teacher, administrator

Pamela Bowden, a popular British contralto who became a distinguished teacher and administrator, died April 8. She was 77.

She appeared occasionally in opera but most of her singing appearances were in recitals and oratorios. Between 1954 and 1979, when she retired from singing, she gave more than 750 performances and/or broadcasts under the most distinguished conductors of the day.

A native of Rochdale, Lancashire, England, Bowden served as a radio mechanic during World War II. After the war, she went to London to study music. In 1954, she won the Geneva international competition, which launched the major portion of her singing career.

Her operatic appearances were limited to a few roles for the English Opera Group and the role of Madame Larina in Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” which she performed at both Glyndebourne and Covent Garden.

After she retired from professional singing, Bowden quickly developed a reputation as an outstanding singing teacher and arts administrator. She was head of vocal studies at the London College of Music and taught frequently at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She often served as a juror at international singing competitions and gave master classes and workshops around the world.

She was active in musical organizations as well, serving as president of the Incorporated Society of Musicians and chairman of the Association of Teachers of Singing.

Her life story, “Life of a Low Lady — Memoirs of a Contralto,” was published earlier this year.

She was married to the racing driver Derrick Edwards, who died in 2000. She is survived by their son and daughter.

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