Matthew Owens became Organist and Master of the Choristers of Wells Cathedral in January 2005, having previously been Organist and Master of the Music at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh, and Sub Organist of Manchester Cathedral. In addition to being responsible for the 1100 year old tradition of daily sung worship at Wells Cathedral, Matthew has toured, broadcast, and recorded extensively with Wells Cathedral Choir which, in 2011, was named by an international jury for Gramophone as the best choir in the world with children, and the sixth greatest overall. He prepared the choristers for Bach’s St Matthew Passion, with the Berlin Radio Choir, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and Sir Simon Rattle, for the 2014 BBC Proms. Matthew is the Founder Artistic Director of three initiatives at Wells: Cathedral Commissions, a scheme which commissions new works from pre-eminent British composers; the cathedral’s innovative festival, new music wells; and its counterpart, Early Music Wells.

Matthew was educated at Chetham’s School of Music; The Queen’s College, Oxford; the Royal Northern College of Music; and the Sweelinck Conservatorium, Amsterdam. Studying with Gordon Stewart, Margaret Phillips, and Jacques van Oortmerssen, he won all the major prizes in the diplomas of the Royal College of Organists. From 1994-99, he was Tutor in Organ Studies at the RNCM and Chetham’s, and worked for BBC Religious Broadcasting; he was Conductor of The Exon Singers from 1997-2011, and President of the Cathedral Organists’ Association from 2010-13.

He is Musical Director of the Wells Cathedral Oratorio Society, a chorus of over 150 singers with which he has performed Bach’s St John Passion, B minor Mass, Cantata 140, Lutheran Mass in F, and Christmas Oratorio; Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms; Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem and Alto Rhapsody; Britten’s War Requiem and Saint Nicholas; Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, and The Kingdom; Fauré’s Requiem; Handel’s Messiah and Four Coronation Anthems; Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Mozart’s Requiem and C Minor Mass; Orff’s Camina Burana; Verdi’s Requiem; and major works by Finzi, Purcell, Rutter, Vaughan Williams, and Vivaldi, with some of the south of England’s leading professional orchestras. Matthew has directed choral workshops and summer schools throughout the UK and abroad – including recent visits to Australia, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and the USA – and has made over 30 CDs as a conductor with major labels including Hyperion, Signum, and Resonus Classics.

As an organist, Matthew has given recitals in Australia, France, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, New Zealand, the USA, 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, and is currently performing the complete works of Bach at Wells Cathedral over a series of 36 recitals. He has championed new music, particularly of British composers, conducting over 180 world premieres, including works by leading composers ranging from Jools Holland to Sir James MacMillan, and John Rutter to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. As a composer himself, he is published by Oxford University Press and Novello. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians in November 2012.


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