Organist Biographies

Current Michigan Theater organists

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 1973 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.

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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.

Henry Aldridge

Head Organist

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 1973, an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina in l968 and an undergraduate degree with honors from UNC in l965.

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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 Theater.

Henry 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.

David Hufford

Organist

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.

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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

Organist

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  named the 2014 Organist of the year by the American Theatre Organ Society.  Most recently, he became the head organist for the Detroit Red Wings at the new Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit.

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.

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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.

Lanc has been a church organ consultant in Michigan since 1991.  He is currently the church organ consultant for Allen Organs for Evola Music. He is, also, on the Allen Artist roster.  Lance has designed and installed over 350 organs in churches, homes, and institutions.  His background includes pipe organ maintenance, as well as electronic  organ design, installation, voicing, pipe interfacing and MIDI implementation. 

Lance is, also, currently on the staff at the Redford Theatre in Detroit in adiditon to his work at the Michgian Theater.  He has been a church organist for 43 years, and is currently at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Bloomfield Hills, Mi.

Andrew Rogers

Organist

Andrew currently serves on staff at the Michigan Theater and was an organist for several years at the Detroit Fox.  Residing in Fenton, Mi., he travels doing theater organ concerts, accompanying silent films, and lecturing on film scoring.  He changed his focus entirely to music after leaving behind 17 years at a travel agency doing back-office accounting and 30 years of serving a parish.

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Andrew’s musical studies began with the accordion – winning local and national competitions by playing transcriptions of classical orchestral music.  He later appeared in the orchestra for productions of the Theater Department at MSU where he holds his degree in Psychology.

While working at the Wurlitzer factory store in Dearborn, he sought out the late Fr. James Miller.  He studied theater organ techniques with Fr. Jim and accompanied him on his second tour of Australia and Norfolk Island – appearing both in joint concerts and solo engagements.  He furthered 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.

In addition to his theater organ concert and film work, 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 Japan.and a trip to Myanmar – performing both in solo events, in duet with a noted Japanese violinist, and performances as a member of The Global Harmony Band.

Stephen Warner

Organist

In addition to being one of the staff organists at the Michigan, Stephen is the organist at Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church in Detroit, where he created a fully illustrated book describing the function and design of their Skinner Organ.  For this project, he has received the support of the Organ Historical Society through the awarding of the Mader Memorial Research Scholarship.

In 2003, he completed dual bachelor’s degrees in organ performance and in mechanical engineering at U of M.  There he had the opportunity to play the organ with many of the bands, orchestras and choirs, including the U of M Men’s Glee Club, which he was a member for six years.  He studied organ primarily with Dr. James Kibbie and piano with Dr. Nouis Nagel. 

He studied engineering primarily due to his interest in organ building. He worked as an intern for John Brombaugh and Associates in Eugene, Oregon and, now, is an assistant for the Holden Pipe Organ Company in Ferndale.  He was awarded the David L. Junchen Technical Scholarship from the American Theater Organ Society. 

Mr. Warner has enjoyed collaboaration with his wife, Rose, singing with him in performances on both the classical and theater organ.  He has, also, collaborated with long-time friend and saxophonist, Adam Olson, in recording and performing the works of vaudeville virtuoso, Rudy Wiedoeft.  His performance focus has, also, turned to accompanying silent films.

Mr. Warner lives in Southfield, Mi., with his wife Rose and step-daughter, Mallory.