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 2nd December
When people ask "How are you enjoying retirement". what they must mean is "from Southwell Minster", because 'retirement' as such is years ahead! Take this past eight days, for example—a fairly typical week: Saturday Nov 24, rehearsing and conducting a monumental performance of Elgar's The Apostles with Nottingham Bach Choir; during the week, writing two long organ reports, then driving to Devizes to begin advising another church. Plenty of organ practice in between and then a trip to Oxford to give an organ recital on Saturday Dec 1 at New College—the organ of my undergraduate years. And tomorrow, Monday 3rd? Off again to an organ-builders to inspect work on an exciting project for Orford parish church. Retirement? You must be kidding!
Sunday 11th November
It was a privilege this evening to accompany my good friend, the baritone Stephen Cooper, for a song recital in the long-running Music in the Great Hall series at Southwell Minster. Stephen had selected a rich and varied programme of songs appropriate to the day (Remembrance Sunday 2018), both familiar and unfamiliar, as a glance at the programme will show. It proved a musically and emotionally satisfying end to a particularly significant and memorable day in our nations’s history.
Monday 5th November
Anne and I recently spent a wonderful few days in Florence—still warm and sunny. We soaked up not just the sun but the art, which is super-abundant, particularly in the churches and of course in the Uffizi Gallery, where we spent some hours. Interestingly, many paintings displayed cherubs, angels, or St Cecilia playing varieties of improbable little portative organs. Here is a group of close-ups of some of those images; I think they’re delightful.