Paul is a former cathedral organist, most of whose time is now spent as a professional organ consultant and recitalist. He 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. From 1990 to 2019 he was Conductor of the Nottingham Bach Choir. He is a diploma Examiner for the Royal College of Organists, and is also Organ Adviser to the dioceses of Southwell & Nottingham and of Lincoln.
Paul has been elected an FRSA and has been awarded an Honorary FGCM and an Honorary FRCSM for “distinguished services to Church Music”. He was President of the Cathedral Organists Association 1999–2001, has served as Secretary of the annual Diocesan Organ Advisers’ Conference, has thrice 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 holds the FRCO and ARCM organ performance diplomas and as a Concert Organist has performed by invitation in most of the major venues in the UK, including St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, many cathedrals, concert halls and universities, also playing abroad (Brussels Cathedral, Paris St-Sulpice and La Madeleine, Bergen Dom, Altenberg Dom, Weingarten Dom, Magdeburg Dom, Riga Dom etc). He specialises in giving inaugural recitals which demonstrate every facet of an instrument in an attractive and varied programme.
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 occupying leading posts in cathedrals, churches, universities, opera houses and as conductors.
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. His full-time choral work for the last thirty years before retirement from these posts was as cathedral organist at Southwell and musical director of Nottingham Bach Choir.
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 2017 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.
Monday 8th March 2021
Another venturing forth today - to St Philip’s cathedral, Birmingham. I was privileged to act as consultant for the complete rebuilding of the historic organ there in 1992-3, by Nicholsons, who have been in charge of the instrument since the 1890s. It fell to them to save the organ in 1940 after a fire-bomb left the cathedral open to the skies (see photo below). It was stored in Pershore Abbey (a stone’s throw from where Carlo Curley’s ashes are now interred) and reinstalled in 1948 with a new console and electro-pneumatic action. I greatly enjoyed revisiting the instrument and was delighted to see that nothing much needs doing to it other than a gentle clean and some overhaul work to the keys and pedals. The Schwarbrick and Snetzler ranks sound as beautiful as ever, and the pair of 18th-century cases still gorgeous.
Wednesday 17th February 2021
I ventured out today to Ranmoor (Sheffield) - strictly necessary, on business, to ‘snag’ and sign-off an organ. Andrew Carter (seen here at the Ranmoor console) has been refurbishing every last piece of the fine Brindley & Foster / Nicholson / Wells organ at St John’s. This magnificent Victorian church has a superb choral and organ tradition - maintained to this day. The organ has a fine Nicholson console from their comprehensive rebuild and electrification of 1963. The David Wells rebuild and enlargement of 1997 was to a typically well thought-out tonal scheme by Roger Fisher. The recent work has been a complete releathering, cleaning, sorting out the wind system, tonal balancing and a full console refurbishment. It is the final major project in the long and distinguished career of Walker-trained Andrew Carter, who is handing over such contracts to Peter Wood & Son of Harrogate, with whom he will work for the time being. We wish Andrew all the best.
Saturday 23rd January 2021
Not getting out much in January, it has been a pleasure to put together for publication an autobiographical book by retired Nicholson Tonal Director, Guy Russell. Entitled A Life Full of Pipe Dreams, it will shortly be published by the Institute of British Organ Building. It's a great read, half the text being about Guy's life in the trade, the second half being a remarkably complete guide to pipe voicing. A unique book written by a unique and talented individual.