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, and Sub Organist of Manchester Cathedral. He was President of the Cathedral Organists’ Association from 2010-13. 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. He recently prepared the choristers for Bach’s St Matthew Passion, with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle for the 2015 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; and the cathedral’s innovative festival, new music wells and its counterpart, Early Music Wells.
Matthew studied at Chetham’s School of Music; The Queen’s College, Oxford; the RNCM; and the Sweelinck Conservatorium, 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, and he was Conductor of The Exon Singers from 1997-2011.
He is Musical Director of the Wells Cathedral Oratorio Society, a chorus of 150 singers with which he has performed Bach’s St John Passion, B minor Mass, and Christmas Oratorio; Britten’s War Requiem and Saint Nicholas; Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, and The Kingdom; Fauré’s Requiem; Handel’s 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, and Vaughan Williams, 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 thirty CDs as a conductor with major labels including Hyperion and Signum.
As an organist, Matthew has given recitals in Australia, France, Ireland, Spain, 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 Sir 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 and Novello. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians in November 2012.