Matthew Owens – Organ

Sunday 21 August 2022

“…marvellous…the playing is full of sensitive insights.” The Gramophone


Matthew Owens is a conductor, composer, and organist. He is Music Director of the Ulster Consort, a new professional vocal and instrumental ensemble for Northern Ireland, and Associate Director of the Grand Rapids Choir of Men and Boys, in Michigan, USA. Previously, he was Organist and Master of the Music at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh (1999-2004), and Organist and Master of the Choristers at Wells Cathedral (2005-2019). Under his leadership, Wells Cathedral Choir was named by an international jury for Gramophone as the best choir in the world with children, and the sixth greatest overall. From 2019-2022, he was Director of Music of Belfast Cathedral, where he re-established the choir as a professional adult ensemble, winning international acclaim for its work: “it could well be the finest all-adult standing choir of its kind anywhere, with near-perfect vowel harmony, blend, enunciation, nuanced awareness of phrase and an exceptional, bright and pure soprano group.” (Gramophone).

Matthew served as President of the Cathedral Organists’ Association (2010-13); he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians in November 2012; and in October 2017 he was made a Prebendary (Canon) of Wells Cathedral “for outstanding service” to the Diocese and the Cathedral. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in October 2020.

He was educated at Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester; The Queen’s College, Oxford; the Royal Northern College of Music; and the Amsterdam Conservatorium. 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 and the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. As an organist, Matthew has given recitals in Australia, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, the USA, and throughout the UK.

He has guest conducted, among others, the London Mozart Players, English Symphony Orchestra, Southern Sinfonia, Scottish Ensemble, Nash Ensemble, Brook Street Band, and the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra. As a conductor he has made over 30 CDs with major labels, and now records exclusively for the award-winning label, Resonus Classics. 

As an educator, he has directed choral workshops and summer schools throughout the UK and abroad – including Australia, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and the USA; he was Tutor in Organ Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music (1995-2001); and has contributed academic papers and publications on choristers and on contemporary sacred music (OUP; Journal of Voice; Open Book Publishers). 

Matthew has championed new music, particularly of British composers, conducting over 200 world premieres, including works by leading composers ranging from Jools Holland to Sir James MacMillan, and John Rutter to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. He is Director of the Cranmer Anthem Book (launched in October 2017); a project that will set all 88 Collects from the Book of Common Prayer to music, by some of the world’s finest composers. As a composer himself, Matthew is published by Oxford University Press, Novello, and the Royal School of Church Music.