Owain Arwel Hughes’ appointment as Principal Associate Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra reflects the esteem in which he has long been held in the British musical establishment.
Owain first made his name with an electrifying televised performance of Belshazzar’s Feast which received a notable accolade from the composer Sir William Walton. He became renowned for the verve and colour of his interpretations, familiar to the wider public through his inspirational presentation of core works of the classical repertoire on the BBC TV series ‘The Much-Loved Music Show’. Since that time he has worked with all of the leading British orchestras, conducting concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall and other major venues, and he has continued to collaborate frequently with BBC Television, most notably the series ‘Music for the Masses’ with the Philharmonia Orchestra. He has held the titles of Associate Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (1980-6), Associate Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra (1984-1990) and Principal Conductor of the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra (1994-1999).
Greatly acclaimed for his direction of large-scale choral/orchestral works such as Verdi’s Requiem and Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand, Owain Arwel Hughes had a highly successful period as conductor of the Huddersfield Choral Society between 1980 and 1986. As Artistic Director, Owain Arwel Hughes is the driving force behind the creation and success of the Welsh Proms, one of the major music festivals in Britain. Inaugurated in 1986, it is now established as a flagship of musical excellence with an interesting mix of popular and challenging repertoire.
This mix is a characteristic of Owain’s varied career, which in the 2002/3 season included a UK tour featuring great British music to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, oratorios and orchestral repertoire with the Royal Philharmonic, Hallé, Royal Scottish National and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras, Classic FM’s 10th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and engagements with numerous international orchestras.
Owain is the founder of Camerata Wales, a new chamber orchestra, launched in 2005 in London and Cardiff. The orchestra will tour in the UK and internationally and has a recording agreement with BIS.
In addition to his work with professional ensembles, Owain is committed to the highest level of musical education for youth. Each year, as Music Director of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, he trains and conducts the orchestra in concert tours of major venues in Wales and internationally.
Over the years Owain has forged strong links in Scandinavia, conducting the leading orchestras in Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. He has a long-standing relationship with BIS, for whom he recorded the entire orchestral, concerto and choral output of Vagn Holmboe, the complete set of Rachmaninov’s Symphonies with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concertos with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra and Noriko Ogawa. His recordings for EMI, Phillips, Chandos and ASV present repertoire ranging from David Fanshawe’s African Sanctus through Handel’s Messiah and Verdi’s Requiem to the music of Delius and Vaughan Williams. He has recently recorded Holst’s The Planets with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the complete Brahms symphonies with the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra for Quartz.
Owain’s great contribution to the musical establishment has been marked by Honorary Doctorships and Fellowships at no fewer than seven universities and conservatoires in Britain. In the 2004 New Year Honours, Owain’s commitment to both music and charitable causes was recognised by the award of an O.B.E.
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Credit: Carol Latimer
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