WMLO was formed in 1982 by Les Pursey, initially as a small band to play in shows around the Kidderminster area, but it soon transmogrified into the band in the form it is today.
Les started to write arrangements for WMLO and was renowned for his inventiveness in arrangements, plus the fact that he could write additional parts in the breaks in rehearsals!
Les died from cancer in the mid 1990s, and the position of musical director was taken over by Hillary Summers in 1994. Hillary moved on to new pastures in 2006, and David Etheridge was appointed musical director later in that year.
Other notable members of the orchestra with their own websites include Phil Rawle.
Les Pursey's arrangements currently form the majority of WMLO's repertoire, while Bob Birch has written the bulk of the newer charts for the band. Other arrangements have been provided by Phil Rawle (alto sax/clarinet), Phil Mountain (baritone sax/flute) and Hilary Summers (our previous Musical Director).
Our Master of Ceremonies is the redoubtable Peter Tomlinson who has an impressive and chequered history.
Who else can lay claim to fame as a continuity announcer for Harlech and ATV Midlands, straight man to Chris Tarrant on the first series of Tiswas (I think he prefers to forget about that), as well as being the moving force behind Saga FM? Peter’s unrivalled experience and knowledge of our repertoire makes for an informative, entertaining and smooth running show, giving you backgrounds and insight into the music we play. You’ll learn much that you might not previously have known, and he has often given the musicians insider information on the music and composers.
David Etheridge, our Musical Director and Stick Waver (Conductor) studied double bass and conducting at the Royal College of Music and has worked extensively in many different fields of music.
David's credits include jazz work with Stephane Grappeilli, Nigel Kennedy, Martin Taylor & Peter Skellern in everything from swing jazz to jazz rock, and he has worked as Musical Director for Hereford Sixth Form College Big Band and Hereford Big Band. He's also worked in cabaret with Frank Carson and Bob Monkhouse amongst many others, and in the classical world with the Ballet Rambert, the John McCarthy Orchestra and Singers and for two years was conductor of Hereford String Orchestra.
As a composer and arranger, David has produced soundtracks for Channel 4 and Sky, and provided backing tracks for the Courtyard Theatre in Hereford.
David is also a well established music journalist, reviewing instruments for magazines and writing features on all aspects of music making, and he currently teaches in Hereford and Malvern with students in Music Technology, Double Bass and Bass Guitar, whilst leading the bass section of Malvern's Chandos Symphony Orchestra and playing in Malvern Big Band.
See him in his full 1970's glory below....... (he's the one with the hair! And when he was in the Herts. County Youth Orchestra, he had more hair than he has now!)