Ceri Owen


  • Lecturer in Performance, Music

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I welcome applications from research students in the following areas: practice as research; music performance studies; music and musicians in Britain and Ireland during the late nineteenth- and twentieth centuries; intersections between classical and traditional musics and performance practices; music and identity formations; song and song performance; interdisciplinary research.


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a pianist and musicologist. Blending historical, cultural, and practice-led approaches, my research focuses on intersections between music, identity, and performance; practice as research; and music and musicians in Britain and Ireland during the late nineteenth- and twentieth centuries.

My work has investigated how cultural and political ideas about national identity were mediated, performed, and embodied within classical music and performance cutures in Britain during the first half of the twentieth century. I have been especially interested in the work of twentieth-century composer Ralph Vaughan Willams. Growing out of this research, I am also interested in intersections between classical and traditional musics, musical cultures, and performance practices, and since 2019 I have examined these intersections within Of Aran Trio, a collaboration with Irish traditional musicians and academics Úna Monaghan and Síle Denvir, uniquely drawing together Irish and Welsh traditional musics, pre-existing Western classical musics, electronics, improvisation, and experimental musical practices.

I am further interested in song and song performance, and also work professionally as classial song pianist (or accompanist), collaborating closely with singers and exploring intersections between music and literature. I have published work on subjectivity, identity, and performativity in Ralph Vaughan Williams's songs; on Vaughan Williams's literary interests, in collaboration with literary scholar Matthew Ingleby; and on classical song performance and pedagogy in early twentith-century Britain. More recently, I have explored the under-documented work of twentieth-century women song composers including Grace Williams and Ina Boyle.

Public Engagment & Impact. I have long been committed to communicating my research findings to a range of audiences, and together with my work as a professional musician, have made programmes for BBC Radio 3, as well as contributing lectures, talks, and essays to national and international festivals and community projects.


I am Lecturer in Performance and Director of Performance at the University of Birmingham. I have published articles and reviews in international peer-review journals including Twentieth-Century Music, 19th-Century Music, Music & Letters, and Tempo. I am co-editor and contributor to the interdisciplinary volume Vaughan Williams in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2024), and the 19th-Century Music journal special issue Subjectivity in European Song: Time, Place, and Identity (2017). I am currently writing a book about the twentieth-century composer Ralph Vaughan Williams for Reaktion Books.

As a performer I specialize as a collaborative pianist, and have performed extensively in Britain, Ireland, and further afield, appearing at major concert halls and festivals including the Wigmore Hall, Barbican Hall, Kings Place, and St Martin-in-the-Fields, London; the Holywell Music Room, Oxford; the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham; the Hugo-Wolf-Akademie, Stuttgart; and as part of the Oxford International Song Festival, BBC Proms Festival, and Sonorities Festival. I was awarded the Pianist's Prize at both the Grange Festival International Singing Competition (2017) and the John Kerr English Song Award (2018). As a pianist I have made live and recorded broadcasts for BBC Radio Radio 3, and have also contributed to numerous BBC Radio 3 programmes as an academic speaker, most recently acting as a research consultant and contributor to the series Composer of the Week: Vaughan Williams Today. I perform with both classical and traditional musicians and my regular collaborators include baritone Dominic Sedwgick (a former Young Artist at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden), and Irish traditional musicians and academics Úna Monaghan and Síle Denvir, with whom I founded Of Aran Trio.


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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