Biographical Information

School of Music and Dance, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon

DATE OF BIRTH: 12/13/31 PLACE OF BIRTH: Los Angeles
Married to Joyce Laurie Owen; two sons and a daughter.

HAROLD OWEN is Professor Emeritus of composition, musicianship, and music history and was former chairman of the Department of Composition at the University of Oregon School of Music. In addition he has been the director of the University Collegium Musicum and the University Consort, a faculty ensemble devoted to the performance of early music.

He received his B.Mus. degree in 1955 and his M.Mus. degree in 1957 from the University of Southern California, both with honors. After teaching in the public schools of Hopland, California in 1957 to 1959, he served as Composer-in-residence in Wichita, Kansas under the Contemporary Music Project sponsored by the Music Educators National Conference in 1959-60.

Owen returned in 1960 for doctoral study at the University of Southern California on a scholarship from Broadcast Music, Inc., served as a Graduate Teaching Fellow the following year, then joined the USC faculty in 1962 to teach theory and composition until 1966. He completed the DMA in composition at USC in 1972.

He was a member of the John Biggs Consort during the early 1960s and toured with the group during summers. This association led to his establishment of the University Consort shortly after joining the faculty of the University of Oregon School of Music in 1966. The Consort performed regularly throughout the Northwest until 1995. He remained on the faculty of the U of O School of Music until his retirement in March, 2001.

He has written a large number of compositions for chorus, orchestra, wind ensemble, and a variety of solos and chamber ensembles, both vocal and instrumental. Many of his choral works are in print as well as works for organ and various chamber ensembles. He has won several composition awards and commissions, including a String Quartet for the Coleman Chamber Concerts in Los Angeles (1966), his Piano Concerto was performed in 1958 by Michael Tilson Thomas and the USC Symphony, an orchestral work, Periaktos, was commissioned by the Eugene Symphony and performed in 1978, a work for wind ensemble was commissioned for performance at the College Band Directors' National Association Conference in 1985, a Chamber Concerto for the Oregon Mozart Players was performed in 1986, and a Concerto for Tuba and Wind Ensemble commissioned for and premiered by the principal tubist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1990, his Missa Pacem in Terris for chorus and two string quartets, was premiered by the Eugene Chamber Singers in 1994. A work for baroque ensemble, Variations on a Rondeau by Rameau, was premiered in Portland, Oregon in March, 2001. Suite for Oboe and Organ  was commissioned by J. Robert Moore of the University of Oregon Faculty, had its premiere in April, 2002. It was revised in 2006 to become Concerto for Oboe and Strings, premiered by Amy Goeser Kolb at the U of O in 1997. A work for string orchestra, "Night on the River" was premiered by the Octava Chamber Orchestra of Seattle in 2008. The Willamette Valley Symphony and harpist Laura Zaerr premiered his Concertino for Harp and String Orchestra in November, 2011. His Amici Quintet was premiered at Chamber Music Amici in 2012. 

Owen's textbook Modal and Tonal Counterpoint, Josquin to Stravinsky was published in 1992 by Schirmer Books, New York with an Italian edition published by Edizioni Curci a year later. The book, now in its tenth printing, has been used widely in America and abroad. He has developed and updated a set of course materials for tutorials in the use of Finale, the computer music notation application. The set of tutorials, updated until 2010, are available on the Internet and have been used by many individuals and schools around the world (including translations into Russian, Norwegian, and Portugese). His text, Music Theory Resource Book, was published in 2000 by Oxford University Press. His book, Handbook for Creative Church Musicians was published by G.I.A. Publications in February, 2001. Art of the Canon for recorder ensembles is a three-volume set published in 2008 by PRB Productions.

He continues to be active as composer, author, teacher, and adjudicator. In April, 1998 he was invited to the campus of the University of Montana to serve as Guest Composer and adjudicator for the annual Composers' Showcase. Several of his compositions were performed during the event as well as compositions by the students followed by a session for discussion of the new works.

Prof. Owen has been choirmaster at St. Mary's Episcopal Parish, Eugene, Oregon for more than twenty years, where he established the Philharmonia Sacra Concerts devoted to the performance of sacredl music. He has written a large number of works for the church, many of which have been published, including anthems, organ works, two books of trumpet descants to familiar hymns, and a collection of hymn harmonizations published by G.I.A., Chicago.

Besides composing and conducting, he is a singer, performer on piano, harpsichord, and recorders and other Renaissance wind instruments.  

Updated 5-3-2019