Matthew Owens

Matthew Owens is Organist and Master of the Choristers of Wells Cathedral, having previously been Organist and Master of the Music at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh (from 1999-2004) and Sub Organist of Manchester Cathedral. He is also Tutor in Organ Studies at Wells Cathedral School (one of the four specialist music schools in England), Conductor of the Wells Cathedral Oratorio Society, and President of the Cathedral Organists’ Association. He is the Founder Artistic Director of two initiatives at Wells: Cathedral Commissions, a scheme which enables the cathedral choir to commission new works from pre-eminent British composers; and new music wells, a festival which is a retrospective of the last forty years of music as well as featuring many premieres. In 2011 an international jury for Gramophone named Wells Cathedral Choir, under Owens’s leadership, as the best choir in the world with children, and the sixth greatest overall.

Born in 1971, Matthew studied at Chetham’s School of Music and was subsequently Organ Scholar at The Queen’s College, Oxford, from where he graduated in music. As a postgraduate he received the highest award for performance, the Professional Performance Diploma, with distinction, and the college Bach prize at the Royal Northern College of Music; gained a Master’s Degree from the University of Manchester; won thirteen prizes in the diplomas of the Royal College of Organists, and was awarded the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. He then studied at the Sweelinck Conservatorium in Amsterdam. His major organ studies were with Gordon Stewart, Margaret Phillips, and Jacques van Oortmerssen. From 1994-99, he was Tutor in Organ Studies at the RNCM and Chetham’s and worked for BBC Religious Broadcasting. From 1997-2011 he was Conductor of The Exon Singers.

Matthew was Assistant Conductor of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain from 1993-1999; he has also conducted the Nash Ensemble, BT Scottish Ensemble, and the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. He is in demand for choral workshops and adjudications throughout the UK and abroad (including recent and forthcoming visits to Australia, China, Germany, Luxembourg, and New Zealand), and has made over thirty CDs as a conductor or solo organist with major labels including Hyperion and Regent.

As an organist, Matthew has given recitals in Australia, France, the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland and throughout the UK, including many festival appearances, and at venues such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, and St John’s Smith Square. He has championed new music, particularly of British composers, premiering many new works by leading composers ranging from Jools Holland to James MacMillan, and John Rutter to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. He is also active as a composer, and some of his works have been recorded for commercial release and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. His carol, The holly and the ivy was recently published by Oxford University Press in Carols for Choirs 5. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians in November 2012.

6th December 2014 at 7pm

Handel: Messiah

  • Lesley-Jane Rogers (Soprano)
  • Louise Mott (Mezzo soprano)
  • Matthew Minter (Tenor)
  • Andrew Kidd (Bass)
  • Music For Awhile orchestra
    (on period instruments)

28th March 2015 at 7pm

Elgar: The Kingdom

  • Peter Auty (Tenor)
  • Jane Irwin (Soprano)
  • David Kempster (Baritone)
  • Kathryn Rudge (Contralto)
  • Southern Sinfonia Orchestra