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Organist Biographies

Current Michigan Theater Organists

Henry-Aldridge Photo Henry Aldridge

Henry Aldridge is an Emeritus Professor of Electronic Media and Film Studies in the Department of Communication, Media, and Theatre Arts at Eastern Michigan University. He received a Ph.D. in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Michigan in l973, an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina in l968 and an undergraduate degree with honors from UNC in l965. Henry attended the University of North Carolina as a Morehead Scholar and also received a National Merit Scholarship to the same school. Aldridge taught at EMU for 40 years and developed the electronic media and film studies program. He has written over 40 articles and scholarly presentations as well as three books including one about the Michigan TheaterHenry became involved with efforts to revive the Michigan Theater’s Barton organ in l971 and began playing it in public in l973. He has continued to serve as one of the theater’s organists since then and has also been involved in a number of other activities at the theater. Henry was an incorporating officer of the Michigan Theater Foundation and also has served as its president. He studied theater organ with Don Hall and Fr. Jim Miller and classical organ and piano with Carol Muehlig. Henry has played well over 1500 pipe organ overtures before film screenings at the Michigan Theater and hopes to do many more in the years to come.

Bud Bates (Retired)

Newton “Bud” Bates holds the record as the longest serving of the Michigan Theater’s organists. Bud started playing the Barton in the spring of l973 and continued until May, 2015. Bud calculates that he has played at least 1,500 overtures before film screenings, and, in addition, has accompanied silent films several times.Bud has the remarkable gift of being able to play by ear in any key. He discovered this ability as a child when he could mimic to perfection what his piano teacher had just played.Bud’s ability as a fine pianist serves him equally well at the organ console. He began playing a neighbor’s home organ in l950, purchased his own a few years later, but then began playing the theater organ in earnest at the Michigan and the Redford theaters. In addition, Bud was very active as an early member of the Michigan Theater Foundation Board of Directors.

Bud, a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, came to Ann Arbor in l965 from Milwaukee as Branch Manager of the Retail Credit Company. In l975, he became a real estate agent with the Markeson and Zahn Company and later started his own agency—Bates Real Estate.

Bud and his first wife Carolyn (d. 2007) have two children Nancy and John. Bud and his present wife Elizabeth Frederick enjoy the retired life in Ann Arbor and visiting with their many relatives and friends.

 David_Hufford David Hufford

David V. Hufford, a native of Toledo, OH, holds the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Organ Performance from the University of Michigan, where he was a student of Marilyn Mason.  During his time at the U of M, David was awarded First Prize in the 1993 Keyboard Day (full-tuition) scholarship, the James Harris Organ Scholarship, and the Marilyn Mason Scholarship.  He was awarded Second Prize in the 1995 Jean and Broadus Staley National Hymn-Playing Competition, also hosted by the University of Michigan, and served in accompanying capacities with the U of M Arts Chorale and, occasionally, as organist with the University Choir. He was a featured organist for the 1995 National Convention of the Organ Historical Society in Detroit, playing David Wigton’s magnum opus at Old St. Mary’s Church in Greektown.

David has served as Organist/Director of Music at Angelica Lutheran Church, Allen Park, MI, since March, 1996, having previously served two Toledo-area churches over the course of 11 years, beginning at age 16.  He is also Co-Owner of the Renaissance Pipe Organ Company, a firm responsible for the care and maintenance of several of the area’s most prominent pipe organs.  David has served as adjudicator for the National Organ Competition (preliminary round) hosted by the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Wayne, an AGO Young Artists’ Competition also in Fort Wayne, and for the National Association of Negro Musicians, held in Detroit.

Among the most musically-influential factors David recalls from his early years, he counts his father’s cassette copy of Virgil Fox’s “Heavy Organ” program, as well as his mother’s LP of the final recording made at the former Toledo Paramount Theater on the 4/20 Wurlitzer pipe organ.  Reading of the demolition of the Toledo Paramount in 1965 made a profound impression on him, as did his aunt’s account that “Many people had tears in their eyes” upon the loss of the breathtaking, atmospheric-style Paramount.  These events instilled in him a strong sense of historical value of these places and their pipe organs, just as we still, luckily, have to treasure in Ann Arbor.  (The Toledo Wurlitzer now serves as the nucleus of an expanded pipe organ in Berkeley, CA.)  He played several theater organ concerts in his early 20s, had some brief-but-valuable coaching with the late Denny Hinman of Toledo, and developed a keen fondness for the stylings of Buddy Cole.  In late 2014, David rekindled his interest in playing theater pipe organs and joined the staff of organists at the Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, where the original 1927 Barton 3/13 pipe organ is played live at least ten times weekly.  Renaissance Pipe Organ Company recently completed the first of two planned phases of restoration work on this important instrument.

Lance Luce 2015 cropped Lance Luce

Lance Luce is an internationally acclaimed theatre organist. He has played hundreds of concerts all over the United States, Canada, England and Australia. He was recently named the 2014 Organist of the year by the American Theatre Organ Society.

His concerts are praised for appealing to audiences of all ages, containing a wide variety of musical styles. He has played concerts for numerous chapters of the American Theatre Organ Society and other affiliated theatre organ groups and clubs. He has played for National and regional conventions of the ATOS in the United States and TOSA in Australia.

Lance began playing the theatre pipe organ at age 10 at the Royal Oak Theatre near his Michigan home. At age 18, Lance won first place honors in the Yamaha National Electone organ competition in California. The next year he was appointed the Head Staff Organist at Radio City Music Hall in New York, on the largest Wurlitzer ever built. Lance has made many recordings, including being part of the famous “Theatre Organ Greats – A Salute to Radio City Music Hall”.

For many years, Lance was the house organist at several family style restaurants, two of them in Michigan. While at the Organ Grinder in Toronto, Ontario, he played for well over a million patrons in his 8 year run.

Lance is currently on the staff at the Fox Theatre and Redford Theatre in Detroit, and the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. He has been a church organist for 38 years, recording artist, as well as concert artist.

Andrew Rogers Andrew Rogers

A resident of Fenton, Andrew began his musical studies at the age of seven on the accordion, winning local and national competitions by playing transcriptions of classical orchestral music. He later appeared in the orchestra of Broadway productions at Michigan State University where he holds his degree with honors in Psychology.

He studied theater organ techniques with the late Fr. James Miller. He, also, accompanied Fr. Jim on his second tour of Australia and Norfolk Island, appearing both in joint concerts and solo engagements. He then augmented his studies with Dr. Marilyn Mason at U of M through the Church Organ Studies program. Scholarships from U of M enabled him to travel on two Historic Organ Tours led by Dr. Mason covering France, Italy, and Switzerland – playing 58 instruments and participating in ten public concerts.
Several years ago, Andrew quit his 17-year position doing back-office work at a travel agency. More recently, due to the closing of the church in Dearborn, he retired as its pastor. He had the opportunity to be reassigned to another church but, due to a number of circumstances, chose to remain in the area. Music, once always taking a back-seat to his lay and church jobs, is now his career rather than a hobby and travels the U.S. doing concerts and scoring/accompanying silent films. Andrew has performed twice for the Flint chapter of the American Guild of Organists and, more recently, was the silent film artist for the joint AGO/Michigan Theater fundraiser. In addition, he has lectured on film scoring for film classes at Uof M Dearborn and other locations.

In addition to his classical and pop concerts, it was in 2003 when Andrew was invited to play for a public program in Michigan for Japan’s Foundation for Global Harmony. The music so impressed its founder, that he asked Andrew to create two meditation CD’s for the Foundation to help raise funds for orphanages, hospitals, vocational schools, etc., for children in SE Asia. It led to trips across the U.S. – including Hawaii – and five trips to perform in Japan.

Stephen Warner
Information coming soon!