Coupling powerful interpretations with path-breaking scholarship, Contrapunctus presents music by the best known composers as well as unfamiliar masterpieces.
The group’s repertoire is drawn from England, the Low Countries, Spain, Portugal and Germany, particularly in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The scholarly facet of the group’s work – including the discovery of long-lost music and reconstructions of original performing contexts – allows audiences to experience the first performances of many works in modern times.
Since its foundation in 2010, the group has appeared in many of the world's most prominent music festivals – the Utrecht Early Music Festival, the AMUZ Festival in Antwerp, the Festival van Vlaanderen in Mechelen, the Eboræ Musica Festival and Setúbal Festival in Portugal, the concert series at De Bijloke in Ghent, and in the Martin Randall Festival of Spanish Music (Seville Cathedral), and alongside the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Contrapunctus is Vocal Consort in Residence at the University of Oxford. The group's debut disc 'Libera nos: The Cry of the Oppressed' was released on the Signum Label in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Gramophone Early Music Award 2014.
Contrapunctus' next recording project centres on the Baldwin Tudor Partbooks. A series of discs on the Signum label will present music from these partbooks. The first album 'In the Midst of Life' featuring motets on the theme of mortality, was released in February 2015 to great critical acclaim. It was shortlisted for the Gramophone Early Music Award 2015, named Album of the Week in The Sunday Times, The Week, and on BBC Radio 3 CD Review. It was Editor's Choice in Gramophone and Choral and Song Choice in BBC Music Magazine.
Owen Rees is both performer and scholar, his scholarship consistently informing his performances. Through his extensive work as a choral director, he has brought to the concert hall and recording studio substantial repertories of magnificent Renaissance and Baroque music, including many previously unknown or little-known works from Spain and Portugal. His interpretations of these repertories have been acclaimed as ‘rare examples of scholarship and musicianship combining to result in performances that are both impressive and immediately attractive to the listener’, and he has been described as ‘one of the most energetic and persuasive voices’ in this field.
He has conducted at festivals worldwide, and is increasingly busy as a leader of workshops on performance of Renaissance polyphony. He has broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4, and on Portuguese, Spanish, and Norwegian radio. He has released CD recordings on the Hyperion, Signum, and Avie labels to consistently high critical acclaim and his work has been shortlisted for the Gramophone Early Music Award.
Owen Rees began his academic and conducting career as Organ Scholar at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, studying with Peter le Huray and Iain Fenlon. After a period as College Lecturer in Music at St Peter’s College and St Edmund Hall, Oxford, he joined the Music Department at the University of Surrey, where he was promoted to the post of Reader.
In 1997 he returned to Oxford, where—in addition to his posts of Fellow in Music at The Queen’s College and Director of Music of the Choir of The Queen's College—he is Senior Research Fellow at Somerville College and a Professor in the Faculty of Music. His numerous published studies include work on the Spanish composers Cristóbal de Morales and Francisco Guerrero and the English composer William Byrd.