Photo courtesy of Iain MacLeod-Jones
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 (1999-2004), and Sub Organist of Manchester Cathedral. He is also Conductor of the Wells Cathedral Oratorio Society, and was President of the Cathedral Organists’ Association from 2010-13.
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 addition to being responsible for the 1100 year old choral tradition of daily 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.
Born in 1971, Matthew was educated at Chetham’s School of Music and The Queen’s College, Oxford. 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.
As well as guest conducting a number of 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 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, New Zealand, 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 active as a composer himself and has works published by Oxford University Press. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians in November 2012