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Matthew Owens

Choral conductor Matthew Owens is the director of music at Belfast Cathedral and founded the Ulster Consort. He has a substantial discography as both a conductor and organist. Owens was born in Manchester, England, in 1971. He attended Chetham's School of Music in Manchester and then went on to Queen's College, Oxford, as an organ scholar (a musician who performs at university church services in exchange for reduced tuition). Owens continued his education at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he earned a Professional Performance Diploma with distinction and the Bach Prize, and finally, the University of Manchester, where he received a master's degree. His principal organ teachers were Gordon Stewart, Margaret Phillips, David Sanger, and Jacques van Oortmerssen. In 1997, he became the conductor of London's Exon Singers chamber choir and was heard with that group on BBC radio broadcasts and at the Exon Singers Festival. As a guest conductor, Owens appeared with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, the BT Scottish Ensemble, and the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra. He held posts as sub-organist at Manchester Cathedral, organist and master of music at St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh, from 1999 to 2004 (where he made his debut on recordings with an album of music by Langlais and Vierne on the Herald label in 2001), and then as organist and master of the choristers at Wells Cathedral, where he remained until the late 2010s. He has given organ recitals in the U.K., Ireland, France, and Switzerland. At Wells, Owens made numerous recordings with the Wells Cathedral Choir and as an organist, first for the Delphian label and then for Hyperion, and beginning in 2016, for Resonus Classics. At Wells, he favored contemporary music, issuing albums of compositions by Judith Bingham, Bob Chilcott, and John Tavener (the Missa Wellensis), among others. Owens attracted attention for such initiatives as the Cathedral Commissions and the new music wells festival. In 2011, Gramophone magazine international jury named Wells Cathedral Choir the best choir in the world with children (many recordings have included the Wells Cathedral Children's Choir) and the sixth-greatest overall. Owens moved to the Belfast Cathedral Choir in 2019, and in Belfast, he also founded the Ulster Consort, a small, professional vocal group. He made his Belfast recording debut in 2021 with Christmas Bells: Organ Music from Belfast Cathedral, and then as a conductor with A Belfast Christmas, both on Resonus Classics.
© James Manheim /TiVo
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