Organ and Organists
Built originally in 1910 by Casavant of St Hyacinthe, Québec, and rebuilt by the British firm of Hill Norman and Beard in 1961, the organ acquired a new Casavant console in 2011, one that has 250 memories for its pistons, is MIDI capable, can record performances to play later, and is moveable; some additional stops as well as an antiphonal section for the west end of the Cathedral are prepared for. Consisting of four manuals and seventy-five stops the organ serves admirably for service-playing and is also an impressive recital instrument, which has been played by many international performers. At the present time the organ is scheduled for a major rebuild by Casavant. Progress on this work will be posted here on the web site. Click here for the current specification list.
List of Organists at the Cathedral Church of All Saints
George Frederick Austen (1910-1915)
The first organist at All Saints Cathedral, George Frederick Austen, passed the ARCO in 1909 and, after an appointment as organist at St. John's Church, Potters Bar, in England, followed by another position in St. Catharine's, Ontario, came to Halifax in 1910, serving the Cathedral for five years. He gained the degree of Mus.Bac. from the University of Toronto in 1914 and died, aged 86, in 1962; he was buried in St. Anne's Cemetery, Sayville, New York.
A. Theodore Sangar (1915-1921)
Theodore Sangar, the second Cathedral organist, was awarded the ARCO in 1911. His early posts in England included the Church of St. Petrox and St. Barnabas, Dartmouth, and the Parish Church at Moretonhampstead, and he then immigrated to Canada as organist at the Pro-Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary from 1912 to 1914. Next was Halifax and All Saints Cathedral followed by St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Halifax, St. Paul's Friary, Greymoor, Garrison, in New York State, St. James' Cathedral, Seattle, Washington, where he was assistant organist and choir director, and the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Bellingham, Washington.
William Augustus Montgomery (1921-1942)
W. A. Montgomery was born in Scotland in 1872 and his early education, leading to the Mus.Bac.(Durham) and the diplomas of FRCO, LRAM, and LTCL, and most of his early church positions, were in England. In 1913 he moved to Canada, first to St. Peter's Anglican Church, Sherbrooke, Québec, then from 1914 to 1921 to Calgary where he succeeded Theodore Sangar at the Pro-Cathedral Church of the Redeemer. His time at All Saints Cathedral, Halifax, made him the second-longest serving organist: on his retirement he became Organist Emeritus and in the early 1970s a plaque in his memory was placed on the wall behind the organ console.
He was the teacher of many students and active in the Nova Scotia Registered Music Teachers' Association of which he was made the first Honorary Life Member. At the age of 21 he won a prize for one of his early compositions and over the years he wrote much music, over one hundred of his pieces being published; in 1996 one of his organ works was published by the Canadian Musical Heritage Society. He was also involved in the preparation of the 1938 Canadian Anglican Hymn Book. Montgomery died in 1948 and was buried in Camp Hill Cemetery.
L. Davies Bewes (1942-1945)
Len Bewes, while serving in the Air Force during the war, was assistant organist at the Cathedral for W. A. Montgomery's last few years, being in charge of the music during the latter's illness and succeeding him in 1942. After leaving the Cathedral, Bewes was at St. John's United Church in Halifax before going to the United States in 1947; he died there in the 1990s.
George Brough (1945-1946)
Appointed at the age of 27 and certainly one of the youngest, if not the youngest, organist at the Cathedral, George Brough already held the qualifications of D.Mus.(Oxford), FRCO, LRAM, ARCM. After his education in
England and his brief residence in Halifax, he settled in Toronto where his musical activities included coaching, conducting, piano, harpsichord and organ performance, teaching, accompanying, adjudicating and examining. A
regular accompanist on the CBC and in public performances Dr Brough has been described as "one of Canada's most skilful, reliable and versatile accompanists".
Maitland Adam Ernest Farmer (1946-1971)
The longest-serving, and one of the best-known of the Cathedral organists, Maitland Farmer was born in England in 1904 and after studies, which led to LRAM and ARCO diplomas, and early appointments in England and France he came to Canada in 1929. Following two years at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Québec City, twelve years at St. Paul's Anglican Church, Bloor Street, Toronto, during which time he passed the FRCO, and two years at McGill University and St. George's Anglican Church, Montréal, he began his twenty-five years at All Saints Cathedral in 1946. These years in Halifax brought him the Mus.Bac.(Toronto), and, in 1963, an Honorary Doctorate of Canon Law from the University of King's College; he was instrumental in the rebuilding of the Cathedral organ in 1961, and as a teacher he built the organ section of the Halifax Music Festival into a significant part of that annual event, being for several years organ instructor at Dalhousie University. A frequent and eminent recitalist, Dr Farmer was the recipient of an Honorary FRCCO in 1984, at which time the plaque in his honour was placed near the organ console. He died in 1995, was buried in Mount Hermon Cemetery, and the Cathedral Choir Room was named in his honour.
Fred Kimball Graham (1978-1985)
Born in 1946 in Oshawa, Ontario, where he received his early education, Fred Graham then completed the Mus.Bac.(Toronto) followed by study in Germany and in London where he gained the FRCO in 1970. Graduate work earned him the M.Mus.(Eastman) in 1981 and Ph.D.(Drew) in 1991. Appointments in Ottawa and Rothesay, New Brunswick, led to Halifax where in addition to his Cathedral position he taught at the Atlantic School of Theology and Dalhousie University. He later held posts in Toronto for the United Church, Emmanuel College, and Humbercrest United Church, and was involved with the production of the United Church Hymn Book (1996) and Service Book (2000).
Michael Jarvis (Acting Cathedral Organist 1985-1987)
Michael Jarvis spent his early years in Montréal where he developed his primary interest in harpsichord. He came to Halifax to fill in for Fred Graham's leave of absence and when the latter resigned Jarvis stayed an
extra year before going to Toronto for harpsichord studies. He then spent seventeen and a half years in Hamilton, Ontario, at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church being also involved with several other performing groups and teaching and playing concerts on the harpsichord. In 2006 he transferred to St. Jude's Parish and Shrine in Vancouver.
D. Mervyn Games (1987-1993)
A Scotsman, born in India, who was awarded the FRCO and ARCM and graduated with the degree of B.Mus. from the University of Glasgow in 1971, continued his studies in Italy, and served churches in England and Scotland, Mervyn Games immigrated to Canada in 1975. Organist at Ridley College in St. Catharines, assistant organist at St. James' Anglican Cathedral, Toronto, organist at St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral, London, Ontario, and a member of the faculties of Western Ontario Conservatory of Music and the University of Western Ontario, Games then moved to Halifax and All Saints Cathedral following which he settled in Ottawa at Knox Presbyterian Church and Ashbury College.
Robin King (1994)
Robin King's very brief stay in Halifax was sandwiched between two residencies in Edmonton. A native of Toronto where he was a chorister at St. James' Cathedral and also of St. George's College he earned the
Mus.Bac.(Toronto) in 1985. After positions at three Toronto churches King went to Robertson-Wesley United Church in Edmonton, whose choir under his direction toured several English Cathedrals in 1991. Returning to Edmonton he worked for St. Andrew's United Church, the Alberta Choral Federation and directed the choir Vocal Alchemy; a change in direction led him to an M.Div. at St. Andrew's College in Saskatoon and ministry in the United Church.
James Burchill (1971-1977; 1994-2006)
John Hudson (2006-2014) John Hudson began his organist/choirmaster duties on Mother’s Day, 2006 but he was no stranger to the Cathedral as this was his family church and he learned to play the organ here under Dr. Maitland Farmer. He was a former head chorister in the boys’ choir and also sang in the senior choir. He studied organ, piano, and voice at Acadia University and while in Edmonton, the organ with Dr. H. Hugh Bancroft, organist and choirmaster of All Saints’ Cathedral there. Also during his Edmonton sojourn, he was recorded by the CBC, adjudicated for the Kiwanis Music Festival, and was club organist for the Edmonton Oilers for their final half season in the WHA and their first two seasons in the NHL. He was organist for 20 years at St. Matthew’s United Church, Halifax where the choirs performed numerous Bach cantatas with orchestra as well as a performance of the St. Matthew Passion on the occasion of the church’s 250th anniversary. He was the first director of the Jubilate Singers whom he served for ten years and also was the music director of the Diocese of Fredericton’s Choir School where he also served for ten years.
Paul Halley (2015 - present)
Paul Halley was appointed Organist and Director of Music at the Cathedral Church of All Saints in August of 2015. He is also the Director of Music at the University of King’s College, Halifax. Born in Romford, England, Halley received his early musical training in Ottawa. At the age of sixteen, he was made an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. He was awarded the organ scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, 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. At the age of 25 Halley became Organist and Choirmaster at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City where he served from 1977 to 1990, transforming the Cathedral’s music program into a rich combination of classical and contemporary music. Concurrent with his tenure at the Cathedral, Halley became a principal member of The Paul Winter Consort and earned multiple Grammy Awards for his contributions as featured writer and performer on many Consort recordings.
Following his departure from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1990, Halley settled in rural northwestern Connecticut and founded Joyful Noise, Inc., the non-profit organization which administers the children’s choir, Chorus Angelicus and the adult ensemble, Gaudeamus. Halley also served as Director of Music at Trinity Episcopal Church, Torrington, CT where he conducted a 30-voice, semi-professional choir, and mentored Organ Scholars from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music. In July 2007, Halley relocated to Nova Scotia.
Halley’s compositions and recordings are produced and distributed by Pelagos Incorporated for which Halley acts as Creative Director (www.pelagosmusic.com). Halley is frequently commissioned to write new works in a range of genres. Compositions have been commissioned, performed and licensed by many notable artists and organizations including Sony Entertainment, Windham Hill/BMG Music, Hal Leonard, the New Jersey Symphony, John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra, The Louisville Symphony, Canadian Brass, and CBC. Halley’s recordings and performances are frequently broadcast on NPR and the CBC.
Organist Emeritus - Dr. James Burchill
With a more than twenty-five year connection with the Cathedral, first as a youthful chorister, then as the third-longest serving Organist and Choirmaster from 1971-1977 and 1994-2006, and in retirement a member of the Cathedral choir, Dr James Burchill published a booklet on the organs and organists of the Cathedral in 2009 and in 2010 was named Organist Emeritus.
He studied at the University of King's College in Halifax, the University of Toronto, the Royal School of Church Music where he gained the FRCO, Indiana University, and the Eastman School of Music where he was awarded the Ph.D., earning various prizes and awards along the way.
Interspersed between his various periods at the Cathedral were church and teaching appointments in Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, as well as in the United States and England. Active in the Royal Canadian College of Organists, of which he is a Fellow, Dr Burchill has frequently performed concerts and recitals including a number at National and Regional Conventions of the College and he has served as an examiner; in 2004 he was presented with a Distinguished Service Award by the Halifax Centre.
Further information on these musicians, on the organ, and details of sources
may be found in "The Organs and Organists of All Saints Cathedral, Halifax, Nova Scotia" by James Burchill, available from the Cathedral.