In 1855 fourteen young musicians signed a constitution, collected a treasury of $123.04, and appointed Frederick T. Iobst of Emmaus as their director. The "Millerstown Brass Band," consisting only of brass instruments and drums, became the forefather of today's Macungie Band.
In 1861, Peter J. Weiler, one of the original band members assumed the responsibilities of Director. Under his direction the band gained a renowned reputation. He had an ear for music that enabled him to rewrite the scores of tunes by memory. Mr. Weiler continued as director for more than 40 years until his death in 1906.
At the start of the Civil War, the "Millerstown Brass Band" volunteered as an entire unit. In early November of 1861, the band began its ninety day tour of duty as the 54th Regiment Band, Pennsylvania Volunteers. They served as guards on the railroad tracks at Berkley Springs, Virginia.
In 1875, Millerstown residents renamed their borough "Macungie", which is Indian for "Bear Swamp" or "Bear's Feeding Place". Accordingly, the band also changed its title and became known from then on as the Macungie Band. By then, woodwind and reed instruments had been added to the band.
Over the years the band was directed by several prominent musicians, including John Hook of Reading, Frederick Benkhard of Allentown, and George Douglass (once a leading member of Beck's Famous Band of Philadelphia).
The early 20th century marked a dormant period for the band. However, in 1914 under the leadership of Howard Haas, the Macungie Band reorganized, formulated a new charter, and elected J. Walter Singmaster as its first president. Three years later, on April 27, 1917, the band held its first concert.
Successive directors following Howard Haas included John B. Meyers (father of Albertus Meyers), 1923 to 1928; Ray G. Wetherhold (a composer of great note), 1928 to 1933; Frank Shingler, 1933 to 1937; and Ralph Daubert from 1937 until his death in 1973. They were followed by Gerald Shingler, 1973 to 1982; Craig Paine, 1982 to 1984; Douglas Bolasky, 1984 to 2009; and our present director, Michael Moran.
A major highlight in the band's history occurred in 1949 when the Macungie Memorial Park acquired a bandshell for outdoor concerts. This came about by means of citizens' support.
The Macungie Band celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2005. While other small town bands have dissolved their charters, the Macungie Band proudly continues as one of a shrinking number of town bands in America. Under the baton of Mr. Michael Moran, and our assistant director, Mr. George Fennell, the future of the Macungie Band seems very bright. For more historical information, visit the website of the Macungie Historical Society.
The Macungie Band is a chartered organization of non-professional musicians. About forty members meet every Tuesday night at 8 o'clock for practice sessions in Octave Hall at the Allen Organ International Sales Headquarters in Macungie. Graduating high school students and all other interested persons are encouraged to further their musical ambitions with the Macungie Band. The only standard the band expects of its members is a sincere interest and dedication to instrumental music.
The Macungie Band performs in concerts throughout the year, and can be hired for performances by contacting our business manager. Click here for more information.