MA MusM FRCO PPRNCM HonFGCM
organist & master of the choristers
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.
Jeremy Cole comes to Wells from St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, where he was Assistant Director of Music and Principal Organist, playing for all regular and special services, as well as broadcasts and concerts, in one of London’s busiest churches. He also oversaw the music at St Stephen, Walbrook in the City of London. Alongside these roles, Jeremy pursues a busy freelance career as a conductor, organist, and piano accompanist. He is Assistant Conductor of the Holst Singers, and is in demand as a repetiteur for choirs, solo singers and instrumentalists, and as a continuo player. He is Artistic Director of Illuminare Choir, a professional ensemble which he founded in 2012.
Jeremy was previously assistant director of music at St Paul’s, Knightsbridge and has held organ scholarships at Hereford Cathedral and Trinity College, Cambridge. His role in Trinity Chapel involved regularly conducting and accompanying the world-renowned choir in their routine of rehearsals and services, as well as their busy concert and recording schedule.
In 2011 he played the organ on Trinity College Choir’s Gramophone Award-winning disc of the music of Herbert Howells, and features as accompanist and organ soloist on their recording of the music of Kenneth Leighton on the Hyperion label.
Jeremy is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and has studied the organ with Colin Walsh, Stephen Farr, and David Briggs, and conducting with Stephen Layton. He has an increasing profile as a recitalist, with recent engagements including London’s Temple Church, Westminster Abbey, and the cathedrals of Gloucester and Southwark.
Senior organ scholar
The Senior Organ Scholar plays a key role in the Music Foundation, assisting in the training of the choristers and sharing in the playing and conducting of the daily services.
Acknowledged as one of Britain’s “most brilliant and exciting young musicians” (Leeds Inspired), Joshua Stephens is the recipient of many awards and prizes. He began his musical career as a treble chorister in Sheffield Cathedral Choir, under the direction of Neil Taylor, who was to later become his first tutor in the organ. As a member of the choir, he participated in numerous engagements external to the daily liturgical routine of the cathedral, including BBC broadcasts, CD recordings, and several international tours.
As a solo recitalist, Joshua is acclaimed, with recent performances at Bradford Cathedral, St David’s Cathedral, Liverpool Anglican and Metropolitan Cathedrals, Selby Abbey (Organ Appeal Trust Celebrity Recitals 2015), and Leeds Town Hall (Leeds International Concert Series). He has also collaborated with actress Maxine Peake in the 2013 Manchester International Festival’s The Masque of Anarchy, and has participated in numerous masterclasses, most notably with Jacques Van Oortmerssen, and Olivier Latry.
In 2014 Joshua completed his undergraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, graduating with a First Class degree with Honours, as a principal study organist, studying with Darius Battiwalla. After a period as Organ Scholar, Joshua was until recently Acting Assistant Director of Music at Sheffield Cathedral, accompanying the cathedral choirs of Boys, Girls, Choral Scholars, and Ley Clerks, having recently accompanied them on a tour to Slovakia and Vienna, and live on BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong, alongside directing the cathedral Schola Cantorum.