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DAVID JOHNSTON OAM


Born into a musical family, David is mostly self taught, receiving his only formal musical education whilst a student at Haileybury College, Melbourne  – seven years on the bagpipes!


Listening to his father’s collection of organ records, David developed a love of organs and organ music, especially that of "theatre" organs – traditional pipe organs capable of playing 'popular' music.


Possessing the ability to hear a song on the 'wireless' and immediately play it on the piano, he reluctantly took a few organ lessons from his father, which was only an excuse to get access to the church organ so that he could practice his ‘popular’ style of organ playing when no one was listening.


A chance opportunity to play an electronic organ in a nearby cinema – the Dendy Theatre, Brighton - led to a long association with that cinema, playing many different organs, including the historic Wurlitzer organ from the Capitol Theatre, Melbourne.


Upon leaving school he studied Electrical Engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technolgy, and upon completing his studies, combined his musical and technical knowledge working for numerous organ companies, demonstrating and selling their products as well as servicing and developing technical service programmes for them.


For over twenty years David was Organist and Musical Advisor to the “Carols by Candlelight” at Melbourne's  'Sidney Myer Music Bowl', Musical Director of the 'Naughty Nineties' and 'John Hancock's' theatre reastaurants, advisor and contributor to the "Young Organists' Association", whilst embarking on and extensive concert career, performing in major venues throughout Australia New Zealand and the USA.


His love of theatre and theatre organs introduced him to the world of the silent movie, and he is considered to be Australia’s finest exponent of accompanying these movies. He has composed and recorded several scores for early Australian silent movies restored by ScreenSound Australia.


He holds a pilot’s licence with Command Instrument Rating – a rare achievement for a private pilot, is a past President of the Theatre Organ Society of Australia, Co-Patron of the Warragul Theatre Organ Society, Patron of the 'Mordialloc Light Opera Company' (MLOC) and has completed two 100km bikes ride to Warragul to raise money for their new theatre organ. In 2008 was invited to join the 'Australian Association of Cinema Pioneers'.


On January 26th 2009 (Australia Day) David was awarded the Order of Australia Medal -  "For service to music and the community, particularly through organ performances, installations and restorations and fundraising events".

Click here for full biography