Saturday, 29th September - 7.30 pm : St Mary’s Church, Melton Mowbray
Paul is a former cathedral organist, most of whose time is now spent as a professional organ consultant and recitalist.
Paul was Rector Chori and Cathedral Organist at Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire, from 1989 to 2016, having previously been Assistant Organist of Rochester Cathedral, Assistant Director of Music at Tonbridge School and Organ Scholar of New College, Oxford, where he studied with Sir David Lumsden and Professor Nicholas Danby, gaining an MA in Music. He is Conductor of the Nottingham Bach Choir and a diploma Examiner for the Royal College of Organists. He is also Organ Adviser to the dioceses of Southwell & Nottingham and of Lincoln.
Independent Organ Adviser
As an Accredited Member of the Association of Independent Organ Advisers Paul is in great demand throughout the UK and beyond as an organ consultant. New or restored instruments for which he currently has, or has had responsibility can be found in thirteen cathedrals, in universities such as Glasgow, Manchester and Sussex, great churches such as Bridlington Priory and Selby Abbey, schools such as Glenalmond, Repton and Marlborough, concert halls such as Leicester’s De Montfort Hall and a large number of churches of all denominations.
He teaches the organ and trained a stream of organ scholars at Southwell, Rochester and Tonbridge—many of whom have gone on to have distinguished careers. He holds the FRCO and ARCM organ performance diplomas, has been elected an FRSA and has been awarded an Honorary FGCM and an Honorary FRCSM for “distinguished services to Church Music”. Paul was President of the Cathedral Organists Association 1999–2001, is Secretary of the annual Diocesan Organ Advisers’ Conference, has twice been President of the Nottingham & District Society of Organists, and has been a Trustee of the Royal College of Organists, the Nottingham Albert Hall Binns Trust, the East Midlands Choirs Trust and the Percy Whitlock Trust, also having served as Chairman of the RSCM Southwell & Nottinghamshire Area for many years.
Paul is a regular guest choral conductor in the UK and abroad (Europe and USA) for festivals, choral workshops and summer schools, having done much work for the RSCM over the years. As a player he has performed in most of the major venues in the UK, also playing abroad (2005 Brussels Cathedral, 2007 St-Sulpice, Paris; 2008 Norway; 2010 Altenberg, 2013 Weingarten, 2015 Madgeburg, etc), as well as appearing on television and radio. His organ and Southwell Minster Choir recordings have been warmly received in the musical press.
Paul is well known for his writings on the organ (he is a consultant and author for The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians) and for reviews in the international journal Organists’ Review, of which he was Editor from 1992–2005. His published books include historical accounts of the organs of Tonbridge School, Rochester Cathedral, Southwell Cathedral, and, most recently, New College Oxford (Positif Press, Oxford, 2015).
On the 9th of June at Lambeth Palace the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred upon Paul the Thomas Cranmer Award for Worship.
The citation read:
For his distinguished service as Rector Chori and Cathedral Organist at Southwell Minster and as one of the UK’s foremost organ consultants.
Paul Hale has given Southwell Minster and the Diocese immense and devoted service over 27 years - an outworking of his own strong faith. In his time the Cathedral’s musical tradition has been developed and enhanced, with generations of choristers, lay clerks and organ scholars benefiting from his expertise in conducting, playing and teaching. He founded the Southwell Minster Choir Association, the Minster Chorale and the Girls’ Choir and established an annual St Cecilia concert. Such is the outstanding level of interest and support for music of the highest quality, which Paul has fostered, that Southwell now has an Annual Music Festival centred in the Minster.
As one of the UK’s foremost organ consultants, Paul has contributed to the installation and renovation of important large instruments in cathedrals and churches and the design of new ones.
Sunday 23rd September
I drove back this morning from an enjoyable (if damp) stay in Hythe, on the South coast, where I had a lovely time giving a recital last night on the fine Harrison & Harrison / F H Browne organ in the parish church. This organ boasts a striking west end case proudly displaying the 16ft Contra Geigen—a rare sight to see a 16ft front in a parish church nave. Rarer still is a 16ft front in a parish church chancel, but that’s just what I found three days earlier when I gave a lunchtime recital on the fine 3-manual Brindley & Foster / Cousans in St Swithun, Retford. Amazing that Brindley managed to get his 16ft Open Diapasons in the front, but he did—and how proud they look, even with the 'gold' paint beginning to turn to that rather grim old hospital radiator colour.
Monday 20th August
One of the privileges of giving recitals in our great buildings is being locked in on one’s own to rehearse. All churches and cathedrals take on a different character when the visitors have left and they settle down for the night. None can be be more special than Westminster Abbey, where in preparation for my recital on Sunday Anne and I spent the whole of Saturday evening in the empty building. In my breaks from rehearsing on the 5-manual Harrison we ambled around as dusk descended, visiting memorials to poets, musicians, statesmen and scientists. Truly inspiring. If only some of their skills, wisdom and intelligence had rubbed off as we passed by!
Saturday 21st July
I had the great pleasure of giving recitals on two contrasting Harrison & Harrison organs over the past week. First came a welcome return visit (my fourth) to their 1912 flagship instrument at St Mary, Redcliffe, which thundered and beguiled in equal measure. Then came a concert on their newest tracker-action organ (for which, as it happens, I was the consultant) at St Andrew’s, Bedford, which impresses in quite a different way, as its tonal scheme and subtle yet characterful voicing result in a true multum in parvo instrument. Two most enjoyable concerts yet totally different in musical effect. That, of course, is one of the travelling organist’s greatest delights (and challenges): every organ is unique. My third H&H of the summer will be Westminster Abbey on August 19th: quite different from the other two, once again. I can’t wait!