Michael Wooldridge


Michael is one of the UK’s busiest theatre and electronic organists. He was fortunate to be mentored by renowned theatre organist Bobby Pagan, who taught him not only about how to play the organ but also about how to write orchestral arrangements and to conduct, skills which have served Michael well in his working life.
He launched his career in 1980, at the age of fifteen, by winning the ATOS UK Young Theatre Organist of the Year Competition playing the Wurlitzer at the Granada Cinema in Kingston-Upon-Thames, and then, in 1984, was honoured to receive the coveted Ian Sutherland Memorial Award from the Cinema Organ Society of Great Britain.

He has made hundreds of appearances on BBC Radio 2, mainly on The Organist Entertains but also broadcasting the Virtual Theatre Pipe Organ live on air to 5 million listeners on the channel’s Steve Wright In The Afternoon Show. He plays concerts on all of the Mighty Cinema Organs around the UK, and is Resident Organist on Europe’s largest Wurlitzer organ, the magnificent 4/32 East Sussex National Wurlitzer.

He was been privileged to deputise at the controls of the 5-manual Compton at the world-famous Odeon Leicester Square for a couple of film premieres, one in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Charles, and to appear in a sell-out concert at Bournemouth’s Pavilion Theatre with the world renowned Mantovani Orchestra, now run by the great leader’s son. More recent highlights at the theatre organ console have included leading a modern-day pop singalong for a family audience of 1,000 New Year’s Eve revellers at the controls of the Worthing Wurlitzer and, at the same instrument, playing the organ part in the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony with the Worthing Symphony Orchestra, first in an edited version to an enthusiastic audience of 700 children in a special inspirational morning schools’ concert for 8 to 12 year olds, where the star of the show became the solo Wurlitzer feature, and then the full version of the same piece to 850 concert goers that evening.
Outside of the UK, Michael has played theatre organ concerts in Holland, Germany, Switzerland and Australia and, in bands, has worked in Ireland and Dubai. He has worked as concert artiste playing pianos, organs and keyboards for Yamaha, Hammond and Wersi.

These days a rare talent, Michael accompanies silent films and, besides sometimes slotting a comedy short into his concerts, in the summers of 2017 & 2018 was been Principal Accompanist for the annual International Silent Film Festival held at Berlin’s Babylon Cinema. He has played for other silent film events both in the UK and Holland.
He very much enjoys leading small bands, often playing in theatres, where he has produced and musically directed countless musicals, touring shows, summer seasons and pantomimes. Michael feels extremely privileged to have worked with many of the stars he grew up admiring on television, including Supersonic Syd Little, Crackerjack and Good Morning Sunday’s Don Maclean, Stu Francis, stars of the Black and White Minstrel Show, pianist Bobby Crush and, from Ireland, the hilarious Jimmy Cricket and Eurovision Song Contest winner, Dana. He has worked in cabaret with master magician, Paul Daniels and, to a crowd of over 2,000 caravaners and in summer season, with his superbly talented son, Martin Daniels.
Michael is also adept at the controls of the classical organ, where engagements have included accompanying a packed carol service on the superb 1914 four-manual Walker organ in the magnificent surroundings of Lancing Chapel, where the combination of this instrument coupled to the smaller Frobenius choir organ to accompany the massed choirs and 550 in the congregation gave a truly awesome sound. He also feels privileged to sometimes deputise for the Director of Music on the three-manual Hill organ at Arundel Cathedral, including having played there for Christmas Day Mass.

In 2019 Michael took on the role of Editor of the Organ & Keyboard Cavalcade Magazine, and producer of the associated Keyboard Cavalcade Hobby Holidays, music breaks for all to enjoy. Visit www.cavalcadeproductions.co.uk to find out more.
When not on tour Michael is pleased to share his experience and bring out the best in others through teaching. He is Principal Tutor to both the Rye Wurlitzer Academy, teaching Rye College students on the UK’s second oldest Wurlitzer, and the Theatre Pipe Organ Preservation Society Academy at Robertsbridge. He spent three years working as Electronic Organ Instructor to the University of Sussex and has a number of private pupils.
He was invited to become a Trustee of The London and South of England Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS) specifically to re-launch the UK Young Theatre Organist of the Year Competition in 2014, an event which he has given new life to with great success producing winners from Rye, Barrow-In-Furness, Hull and Glasgow, all helped to one degree or another by Michael and ATOS UK.