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.
Sunday 15th March 2020
Just back from a most enjoyable trip to Potters Bar, where I gave the inaugural Gala Organ Recital on an organ newly installed in St Mary's Church. Interestingly, the instrument is a transplant - made by T. C. Lewis for the old St Alkmund's church, Derby, and rebuilt in 1972 for the new St Alkmund's building, this fine 3-manual had seen scarcely any use as the church's worship style evolved away from the organ. It proved the perfect fit for Potters Bar, once reconfigured and fully restored and updated by Henry Groves & Son, sounding cathedralesque in a fine acoustic. A large and supportive audience turned up - despite the coronavirus - and a good time was had by all - especially by me. See my Published Books page for a booklet about this organ.
Thursday 20th February 2020
I spent a stimulating (if freezing cold) couple of days this week in the great Minster Church of St Nicholas, Great Yarmouth - the largest parish church by volume in the UK. The task was to undertake tonal regulation of a new, if temporary, 'Hauptwerk' installation which will be in use until the famous Hill/Compton is rebuilt. A huge audio system with 48 channels/loudspeakers and 4 sub-woofers creates a remarkably effective sound in the building, using the sampled Peterborough Cathedral organ, in a reduced stop-list. Paul Stringfellow made the organ, fitting a redundant Rodgers console with Comptonesque luminous stop touches.
Saturday 25th January 2020
In 1963 I started at Solihull School as a grade 5 pianist and took piano lessons from the young Jill Godsall. Jill sorted out my technique and even tolerated my falling in love with the organ a year or two later. Jill had started teaching at Solihull in 1959 and remained teaching and playing there for an astonishing 60 years. Today this was celebrated as the Recital Hall in the David Turnbull Music School was renamed in her honour. 130 former pupils and friends gathered for this very happy event, including some mentioned on the 1970s Oxbridge Music Awards honours board I spotted alongside others on the wall [see below]. The school has an enviable record of success in educating fine musicians - long may it continue to do so, and long may the ever-vivacious Jill continue to pop in with helpful advice!