Dr Ceri Owen

Dr Ceri Owen

Department of Music
Director of Performance

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a pianist, researcher, and writer.


  • BA in Music, University of Oxford
  • MPhil in Musicology, University of Cambridge
  • DPhil in Music, University of Oxford
  • AGSM and MPerf in Song Accompaniment and Chamber Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London


I'm a Welsh pianist, researcher, and writer. I'm interested in issues of identity, authenticity, and the ways we tell stories about our own lives, and about the lives of others. 

I'm currently working on a new biography of the twentieth-century British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams for Reaktion Books.

As a performer I specialize in working with singers; projects in 2019 include a recital debut at London's Wigmore Hall with my longstanding collaborator, baritone Dominic Sedgwick, and the composition and performance of a semi-improvised film score for the 1934 documentary Man of Aran with Irish harper and sound artist Una Monaghan and singer Sile Denver, for Belfast's Docs Ireland Film Festival. The score explored a unique and unusual sound world by drawing together classical piano, Irish traditional harp, concertina, and singing, live electronics, and soundscape. Building on and departing from traditional music and song, we found tensions and common ground between the Western classical traditions and Irish (and Welsh) traditional music, computer music, and noise.
Over the past few year I've performed across the UK and further afield, giving recitals, for example, at the Barbican Hall, Kings Place, and St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, and as part of the BBC Proms Festival. I've made both live and recorded broadcasts for BBC Radio 3.

I've also been also invited to speak about music and literature for BBC Radio 3, contributing to the BBC Proms and Music Matters programmes. 

I regularly speak at music and literary Festivals, and in 2020 am a guest speaker for the Chamber Music Society of Philadelphia's Emerging Voices project.  I've published articles, essays, and reviews for academic journals, for professional concert programmes, and for commercial recordings. I'm also editing a book of essays on Ralph Vaughan Williams for the Music in Context series at Cambridge University Press.

After graduating with a First in Music from Magdalen College, Oxford, I returned to the University to read for my doctorate. I was appointed a Lecturer at Oxford during these years. I trained as a pianist at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, where I was also invited to join the staff. 

I've recently completed a Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge (where I began work on my current book), 


Director of Performance: I convene and teach on all BA and MA Performance Modules.

UG Historical topic: ‘Ralph Vaughan Williams and his World’

Postgraduate supervision

Find out more - our Music postgraduate study  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


I am broadly interested in music and identity formations.

As a performer I work closely with singers, and specialize in song and song accompaniment. I have recently begun to work with traditional and folk musicians.

I am currently working on a new biography of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.


Recent publications


Owen, C 2017, 'On singing and listening in Vaughan Williams's early songs', Nineteenth Century Music, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 257-282. https://doi.org/10.1525/ncm.2017.40.3.257

Owen, C 2016, 'Making an English voice: performing national identity during the English musical renaissance', Twentieth-Century Music, vol. 13, no. Special Issue 1 (Voice), pp. 77-101. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1478572215000183

View all publications in research portal


Twentieth-century British music

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Welsh music and culture

Music and Identity

Music and Nationalism

Song (art song and traditional song)

Languages and other information

Welsh (first language)

Media experience

BBC Radio 3: Proms Plus; Music Matters; In Tune