Morley Big Band Leader awarded an MBE
Tony Douglas, musical director of the Morley Big Band has been awarded an MBE for services to Further Education in the New Year’s Honours list.
This announcement comes alongside Morley College Principal Ela Piotrowska being awarded an OBE for services to Further and Adult Education.
Speaking about Tony’s honour, Ela says, “He personifies the passion, enthusiasm, high expectations and dedication of teachers in adult education. The desire to share his knowledge and love of band music has inspired countless people to learn and gain the skills of performing in big bands.”
Tony’s own musical life started with a fifth birthday present of a toy violin but quickly progressed to playing a cornet. During the war, he joined the army cadets and during the five years he spent in the army, he went to the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall as a student bandmaster and obtained his LRAM and ARCM. This launched his professional career as a trumpet player, arranger and teacher.
Tony joined Morley College in 1981 as a deputy teacher for the Manor Jazz Orchestra. Following on from Morley’s creative traditions of bringing excitement and expertise to amateur and aspiring musicians, Tony provided opportunities to his students to play along musicians and has nurtured the friendships and social networks that learning to play together brings.
24 years ago he became musical director of the orchestra under its new title, the Morley Big Band which has become an intrinsic part of music at Morley. In 1994 the big band played at an international music festival in Switzerland and over the years, he and the band have introduced audiences to the big band genre at numerous venues across London.
Alongside his teaching career he has written, arranged and played in musicals in London’s West End, managed his own big band, which contributes to BBC radio shows, and arranged music for television including Opportunity Knocks. He is currently contributing to a history of big band music for television.
The College is delighted that Tony’s 32 years of dedicated service inspiring big band music amongst people of all ages and backgrounds has been recognised in this way. He inspires learning and captures the imaginations of his students to make music which makes people want to dance and sing and feel happy.