THE ORGANISTS can be divided into two categories; residents and guests.

Over the years, many famous guest organists have appeared in concert at the Odeon, including Reginald Dixon, Reginald Porter-Brown, Ena Baga and her sister Florence de Jong, Dudley Savage, Douglas Reeve, Vic Hammet, Louis Mordish, and Con Docherty. Some brief details of the residents – the cinema's own staff organists – are given below:

The first resident organist was James Bell, and he officially opened the instrument. However, prior to this, J. I. Taylor of Compton's invited several famous organists – including Quentin Maclean and Reginald Foort – to an unofficial preview. Bell died suddenly after a broadcast in 1947 and was suceeded by John Howlett. Howlett broadcast the organ many times and was particularly well known for his "Moonlight Lullaby"; a programme for late evening listening.

When, in 1958, Howlett retired, the job went to the popular organist Gerald Shaw – it was he who gave the organ its affectionate name "The Duchess". Shaw really put the Odeon organ on the map and his LP "Fanfare" was considered a milestone recording. He remained at the cinema until his untimely death in 1974.

The present organist is Donald MacKenzie – for his website, click here.
Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square (east side), London WC2H 7JY [map]