Owain Arwel Hughes

Owain Arwel Hughes

This Cardiff-born conductor's passion for orchestral music-making remains undimmed after more than 40 years in the business.

Owain Arwel Hughes' conducting career is truly international, with his relationships with orchestras as far afield as Capetown, Newfoundland and Aalborg in Denmark alongside his work with many of the UK's leading orchestras. He was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007 and previously has held positions with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra.

As well as working with well-established and respected groups across the world, Owain also likes to make things happen on the musical scene. He founded a professional chamber orchestra, Camerata Wales, in 2005, of which he is Music Director.

He was born in Cardiff in 1942, son of composer, conductor and broadcaster Arwel Hughes. Owain studied at University College, Cardiff and the Royal College of Music, learning the skills of conducting from luminaries such as Sir Adrian Boult, Rudolf Kempe and Bernard Haitink.

Owain has long been a keen promoter of orchestral classics to new audiences. From conducting and presenting his very popular TV programme The Much Loved Music Show for the BBC in the 1980s to the Cardiff Proms, a major feature of the summer music scene in the capital since he founded them in 1986, he has found new ways to transmit his great enthusiasm for classical music to people of all musical tastes.

This enthusiasm also extends into music education, and he was appointed Music Director of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales in 2003.

Owain's taste in music extends well beyond the standard orchestral fare, and his repertoire includes a great many contemporary pieces. His work was much admired by the great English composer, William Walton, and he has made several recordings of Walton's music, notably both the symphonies and the blockbuster choral work, Belshazzar's Feast. He has also made important recordings of works by Alfred Schnittke and Van Holmboe as well as music by Owain's late father, Arwel Hughes.

Arwel Hughes was particularly known for his choral music, and this facility was passed to Owain, whose stint as conductor of the world-famous Huddersfield Choral Society in the 1980s confirmed him as a major talent in the field of large-scale choral works. He has continued to excel in this area both in the concert hall and the recording studio.

Owain has lived in London for many years but has never lost touch with his Cardiff roots. His links with in particular the Welsh Proms and the National Youth Orchestra of Wales bring him back on a regular basis.

His contribution to musical life has been recognised by an OBE in 2004 and a CBE in the 2009 New Year honours list.


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