Paul Halley is a Grammy
Award-winning composer, choral conductor, and organist. He is Director
of Music of The University of King’s College Chapel Choir and
Cathedral Church of All Saints in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
in Romford, England in 1952, Halley was raised in Ottawa, Canada where
he received his early musical training as a chorister and assistant
organist with The Men and Boys Choir of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church.
At age sixteen, he was made an Associate of the Royal
Conservatory of Toronto.
Awarded the organ scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, Halley
received his M.A. with prizes in composition and performance, and was
made a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, winning first prize in
the College examinations.
Following four years post-graduate work as a church musician and teacher
in Montreal, QC, Jamaica, W.I., and Victoria, BC, Halley was appointed
Organist and Choirmaster at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New
York City where he served for twelve years from 1977-1989.
his tenure at
St. John The Divine,
Halley collaborated with The Paul Winter Consort, contributing as
principal writer and keyboardist on multiple Grammy Award-winning albums
released in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Following his departure from the Cathedral in 1989, Halley settled in
rural Connecticut and founded the children’s choir, Chorus Angelicus,
and the adult ensemble, Gaudeamus.
In 1999, Halley became Director of Music at Trinity Episcopal
Church, Torrington, CT where he inaugurated a Choral and Organ Scholars
program in conjunction with Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music.
In 2007, Halley relocated to Halifax, Nova Scotia to become
Director of Music at both the University of King’s College and St.
George’s Anglican Church (to 2011), as well as University Musician at
Atlantic School of Theology (to 2015).
In 2015 Halley was
also appointed Organist and
Music at The Cathedral Church of All Saints, Halifax,
a position which he holds in conjunction with his work at King’s,
providing many opportunities for collaboration between the two
choral and instrumental compositions are distributed internationally by
Pelagos Incorporated, the recording, music publishing, and arts
management company which he established with his wife, Meg Race in 1998.
Halley’s compositions have been commissioned or licensed by such
organizations as Sony Entertainment, John Williams and the Boston Pops
Orchestra, CBC, The Toronto Symphony, and Canadian Brass.
In addition to a regular output of liturgical music, Halley
composes three to four new, commissioned works per year.
Among the Pelagos recordings which feature compositions and arrangements
by Paul Halley: Nightwatch, a reissue of Halley’s
landmark 1982 organ improvisation album, recorded on the Great Organ of the
Cathedral of St. John the Divine; Sound Over All Waters, a compilation of Halley’s choral works and
arrangements for gospel singer, Theresa Thomason, and Keramion Singers;
Triptych, Halley’s keyboard works for the unique trio of
piano, pipe organ, and harpsichord, recorded at Spivey Hall in Atlanta;
Untraveled Worlds, a compilation of world music
repertoire presented by Chorus Angelicus;
and What Child Is This?, comprising a curated selection of new and
less familiar Christmas repertoire. A new recording entitled "In The
Wide Awe and Wisdom", in a two-CD set comprising sixteen of
Halley's more recent choral compositions, is due for release in
September of 2017.
Halley and his wife, Meg Race, an artist, live on the South Shore of
Nova Scotia where they enjoy exploring the waters of Mahone Bay in a
traditional Cape Cod catboat which rejoices in the name, “Magnificat”.
The Boys of St. Matthew's
St. Matthew's Anglican
St. Matthew's Choir
of Men and Boys
Paul Halley is fourth from left,
second row of boys standing,
with ruff but no medallion (yet).
The Boys of St. Matthew's
St. Matthew's Anglican
50 years, St. Matthew's
Church has been
singing praises of its choristers
who have grown up to be
leaders in music, literature,
sciences and the ministry.
The secret of their success?
Margret Brady of the Ottawa
Citizen finds out with interviews prior to the Fiftieth Anniversary
concert in 2007 at which many of these former choristers came together
to perform and reminisce.
on these remarkable choristers as they were interviewd in 2007.
Remarks by Paul Halley, Gerald
Rev. James Beall, Peter Mansbridge,
Daniel Taylor, Matthew Larkin and
Paul Halley as Chorister and
St. Matthew's Anglican Church, Ottawa - 1961-66.
for the 2007 Interview with
The Ottawa Citizen
Treble in boys' choir from
1961-'66, assistant organist in his teenage years.
Now: In 2007 (for
multiple Grammy-Award-winning composer,
conductor, pianist, harpsichordist and organist. Director of Music at
Trinity Episcopal Church, Torrington, Connecticut. Moved to Halifax
during the summer
to become director of music at
St. George's Anglican Church and King's College Chapel.
Most vivid memory: A two-week
canoe trip to Algonquin Park with fellow choristers Kim Muma, John
Proudfoot, Chris Johnstone, Michael Walley and Don Barber led by men's
choir baritone Michel Landry. Kim injured his back running along
slippery boulders. Landry and Chris carried the injured boy away on a
hastily assembled stretcher, eventually flagging down a train for help.
The three remaining 13-year-olds were left to fend for themselves. A
thunderstorm came up as they solo-canoed across a lake and they saw a
mystical glow in the distance caused by the emergency braking of the
"Camping in the park that night
with no adult supervision was frightening, exciting and a life-defining
experience," he says.
Career aspirations: "I knew by
age 11 that I wanted to be a cathedral organist. However, I found the
atmosphere at Cambridge too rarified and when I graduated in 1973,
decided to teach English in Nigeria with CUSO (Canadian University
Services Overseas)." (Political unrest made this impossible and Halley
went to Jamaica to teach
Choir's influence: "I can't
think of anything that had an equivalent impact and not a day goes by
when I don't reflect on the quality of education under St. Matthew's
musical directors Gerald Wheeler and Brian Law. It was far deeper than
my education at Cambridge."