After school in London, Michael Nicholas read music at Oxford, where he was Organ Scholar of Jesus College. His first post was at Louth, Lincolnshire, followed by six years at the famous church of St Matthew, Northampton. In 1971, he took up the post of Organist and Master of the Choristers at Norwich Cathedral. For the next twenty-three years, he directed the cathedral choir in eleven foreign tours and many concerts, broadcasts and recordings, in addition to maintaining a high standard at the seven weekly choral services.
He founded the Norwich Festival of Contemporary Church Music in 1981 and commissioned many new pieces. He also conducted the Norwich Philharmonic Chorus, the Triennial Festival Chorus and the Cathedral Chamber Choir and was a part-time Lecturer in Music at the University of East Anglia.
In 1994, he became the first Chief Executive of the Royal College of Organists, for three years leading the process of modernisation of the College's work. He left the College in 1997 in order to extend his work as a performing musician and examiner. East Anglia once again became the focus of his activities when in 1999 he took up the post of Organist and Director of Music at the Civic Church of St Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich.
His solo organ recordings, made on the organ of Norwich Cathedral, were released on the Decca, Vista and Meridian labels and Michael has given recitals in the United States and Canada as well as in many of the Cathedrals and College Chapels of this country. Besides touring abroad with his choirs from Norwich and Ipswich, he has conducted choirs in Australia, Canada, France and the USA. He has also published a number of compositions and arrangements for choir and/or organ.
Now living in Norfolk again, Michael continues to have a busy freelance career as organist, choir director and composer. He is also an experienced music examiner, having worked for the ABRSM since 1978, Edexcel since 1997 and on many occasions for the RCO. He is a member of the CIEA.