Born in London, Bate is the daughter of H.A. Bate, organist of St James's Muswell Hill from 1924 to 1978. She is especially regarded[who?] as an authority on the organ music of Messiaen, having befriended him within the last twenty years of his life as his organist of choice. In 1986, she gave the first British performance of his Livre du Saint Sacrement at Westminster Cathedral and later made the world premiere recording of the work under the personal supervision of the composer, winning the Grand Prix du Disque. He also endorsed her earlier recordings of all of his other organ works. Bate owns scores which contain many personal markings and references made by him.
Bate has a broad repertory spanning several centuries, also having recorded much English organ music, the complete organ works of César Franck and the complete organ music of Felix Mendelssohn.