Hill was born in Carlisle, England, on May 13, 1957. He was a gifted child, studying organ at Chetham's Music School in Manchester, where at 14 he also developed an interest in conducting. At the Royal College of Organists three years later he was made a Fellow. He went on to study at St. John's, Cambridge, under George Guest
. Other important teachers included Gillian Weir and Peter Hurford
After his graduation from St. John's, Hill's career quickly advanced with a prestigious series of important posts: he served as sub-organist at Durham Cathedral (1980-1982), music director of the Alexandra Choir (1980-1987), master of music at Westminster Cathedral (1982), organist and master of music at Winchester Cathedral (1987-2002), and then music director of the Waynflete Singers (1987-2002).
A year before taking his Winchester and Waynflete posts, Hill was appointed associate conductor of the Philharmonia Chorus. Later he would serve as its artistic director until 1997. Amid all this activity Hill was busy in the recording studio, as well: his series of Victoria albums for Hyperion
began to appear in 1983 with the release O Quam gloriosum, Hill leading the Westminster Choir
. He continued to turn out recordings throughout the 1980s and '90s and into the new century, championing little-known works, as with the three volumes of Stanford choral pieces on Hyperion
(1997), as well as repertory staples like Palestrina
's Missa Papae Marcelli on the same label (1993).
In 2003, Hill became music director at St. John's College, Cambridge, and that same year donned his organist's cap when he appeared as soloist on the Regis Records
' CD Cathedral Organ Classics. In 2006, he was active as an organ recitalist, appearing throughout England and at the International Organ Festival held in St. Alban's.