David Hall –Organist
I suppose it shouldn’t have been a surprise that I grew up with a love of church music, given that dad is an organist and mum and dad have sung in the choir here since their teens! In fact the organist gene runs in the family: mum’s uncle, Ernest Grimshaw, was organist from 1934 until 1974 and then dad held the post for a year.
I had joined the church choir at nine, sitting in the treble pew between Margaret Greenwood (URC) and my Auntie Ivy. Behind me sat Eric Gooder, Alan Haigh and Mr Cheshire and they were always trying to make me laugh! I remember loving the sound of the organ and the choir singing hymns and anthems on a Sunday morning: the organist at that time was Stuart Scrutton.
When I turned twelve, the vicar of St. Barnabas Church, Hightown, approached my music teacher to see if there were any budding organists at school. I went for a trial and got the job, at the immense salary of £9 per month.
That was good pocket money then, of course, and with the £10 I received for weddings it went into my bank account for a rainy day (i.e. university spend).
I spent four years at St. Barnabas before moving to Trinity Methodists in Mirfield, where I played for two years before university. The remuneration had increased to £5 a week by then! That was the time when I got my first experience of directing a choir, and I used to practise the organ on Friday nights in the very cold chapel.
At university I was assistant to the college organ scholar and spent a lot of time singing in three college choirs: this was because you got a free dinner afterwards. This is when I was first introduced to the rich choral tradition and repertoire of the Anglican Church. College choir tours included to Lichfield Cathedral, Northern Ireland, France and Dewsbury! When I returned home to university I re-joined the church choir, sitting with Alan Haigh in the tenor pew my grandad had once occupied. I spent every other Sunday, however, playing the organ at other churches. In 2003 I was on the verge of accepting the organist’s position at Mirfield Parish Church when the organist at Longcauseway, Eric Barber, resigned. Immediately, I knew that I would like to take on the job here, and after an interview I was appointed in October 2003.
I love the job I have at Longcauseway and I feel very privileged to have it. The church is home to me, and I love to sit alone in the sanctuary and contemplate the worship and music which has taken place here over 130 years. Such a fine instrument to play, and what a super choir we have: I don’t know of a higher musical standard in the area.
Organists are well-known for going on, and on, and on, and finally falling off the organ buffet. I will give up when I feel I’m not up to it, and I hope someone will be keeping a seat warm for me in the choir when I do!