Paul Walton

Biography

Paul Walton by Bristol Cathedral pulpit

Paul Walton would like to claim close relationship with the famous composer Sir William Walton, but is prevented by honesty. He was born in 1977 in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he received his early musical training with Peter Summers and Stephen Dodsworth, beginning organ studies at the age of 12. From 1995, he studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, with Margaret Philips and Matthew Owens. He won prizes for organ playing, church music and academic work, conducted the 1996-98 college Carol Services, and recorded a CD with the R.N.C.M. Wind Orchestra for Chandos in their series of Percy Grainger’s complete works. He graduated with an honours degree in 1999 and then undertook two years of postgraduate study with Kevin Bowyer.

From 1997 – 1999, Paul was Organ Scholar of St. Ann’s Church, Manchester. In September 1999, he was appointed Sydney Nicholson Organ Scholar at Manchester Cathedral where, as well as the regular accompanying and training of the Cathedral Choir and Voluntary Choir, he gave numerous recitals, including seven all-Bach programmes, and a Holy Week recital of Charles Tournemire’s Sept Choral-Poèmes pour les sept paroles du Xrist. He produced three CD recordings, including the premiere recording of the Cathedral’s commission for the year 2000, Naji Hakim’s Messe Solennelle, and a carols disc which includes one of Paul’s own arrangements. In 2001, he also took on the roles of Music Administrator and Lay Cantor.

Paul gained his Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists in 1999, winning the Dixon Prize for Improvisation. In 2000, he gained the RNCM’s Postgraduate Diploma and the Professional Performance Diploma, the highest award for performance offered by the College. In 2001, he gained the Master’s degree, with distinction in performance.

Since September 2001, Paul has been Assistant Organist of Bristol Cathedral. He accompanies and assists in the training of the Cathedral Choir and gives regular recitals. He directs the Cathedral Consort and the Cathedral Chamber Choir, who have expanded their role in the life of the Cathedral, notably with their Good Friday concerts and Christmas performances of Messiah, with the Bristol Ensemble, Bristol’s professional orchestra.

Other choirs with whom he has been associated include the Stratford-upon-Avon Chamber Choir (including their tour to the Auvergne in August 2004, performing in the Bach en Combrailles festival on a new organ that is a copy of the organ in Arnstadt, Bach’s first church), and the St. James’s Singers of Warwickshire (performing a concert in which the reader was the choir’s patron, Dame Judi Dench). In May 2007, Paul performed the Finale from the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony in a Gala Concert at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, with the winners of the European Brass Band Championships. In summer 2007, Paul was the organist for the St. Endellion Festival, directed by Richard Hickox. In October 2007, he directed the RSCM Gloucestershire course in Cirencester and Gloucester.

In October 2008, Paul was invited to give a Messiæn recital in Bristol University Great Hall, as part of a series celebrating the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. He has been accompanist for Bristol Cathedral Choir’s tours to France, Germany, Italy and the USA. In Autumn 2012, Paul was appointed the Musical Director of Bristol Phoenix Choir, and also recorded his first commercial CD, a disc of Christmas organ music on Regent Records. A second CD has just been released.

Ever keen to expand his versatility and explore new musical worlds, Christmas performances in recent years have seen Paul playing the sleigh bells and celesta to much critical acclaim.

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