Sunday, 19th August - 5.45 pm : Westminster Abbey
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.
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!
Saturday 23rd June
A reunion of members of CHASSOC (the New College Oxford association for former choristers, lay clerks, choral scholars, organ scholars and organists) took place in sunny Oxford on 23rd June. It was a cheery gathering, the age range of attendees stretching from H K Andrews’ choristers of the 1950s right through to the final Edward Higginbottom years. A stirring Evensong was sung, old members joining in lustily, and then one of New College’s famed dinners ended the day in fine style, with tuneful entertainment by the Choral Scholars. How can it be nearly 47 years since I started there as an organ scholar? And what a privilege that was.
Thursday 14th June
After a gap of 49 years it was a treat once more to play the exciting Lewis organ in St John the Evangelist, Upper Norwood, for a recital on June 14th. I had last played the instrument in 1969 and was completely enthralled—as most are—by my first exposure to the Lewis sound world. I first experienced the Armley Schulze, with its similarly powerful Great Mixture, in much the same year and thus began my delight in really effective and well-developed Mixture-work. Congratulations to Adrian Adams who has been organist there for fifty years and is shortly to retire. Some innings!