Beginnings of the Red Hill Band
The Red Hill Band was formed on December 6, 1900, at the Red Hill Hotel in the town of Red Hill, Montgomery County, PA, in the tradition of community bands in semi-rural communities. The intent was to provide enjoyable entertainment to families in the community, sharing the musical talents of the twenty founding members. To pay for a director and teacher, each member of the Band was assessed ten cents per rehearsal. Compensation for the Band’s services was quite low in those days.
In the Summer of 1904, the Band walked to Perkiomen Heights to avoid the transportation costs, which usually included feed and lodging for the horses. For its services, the Band earned the meager sum of $13. Another memorable event was the annual church picnic in the town of Dublin, 25 miles east of Red Hill. The Band would leave at 4 o’clock in the morning in order to participate in the all-day picnic. For this long trip, the musicians would often get off the “bandwagon” and walk up the hills to ease the burden on the horses.
A great moment in the Band’s history took place on Labor Day, September 7, 1931, when the Band competed against 26 other bands in a parade in Washington, D.C. The Red Hill Band won $250 and a silver loving cup for being judged the best musical unit in the parade. In 1949, Samuel Laudenslager composed “Pride of the Perkiomen” in honor of The Red Hill Band.
Red Hill Band Today
Now, The Red Hill Band has much to be proud of. It is the only remaining community band serving the central and Upper Montgomery County area. Mr. Vincent P. Bercher, retired band director of the Upper Perkiomen High School, had been the conductor for 42 years until his retirement at the end of the 2015 concert season. In 2016, Mr. Norman E. Stull became the conductor of the Red Hill Band. The Band’s members include four 4th generation Red Hill Band members and one member who has been playing with the Band for sixty-two years!
Many members have gone on to become music professionals. One example is Tyrone Breuninger, who soloed with The Red Hill Band at the age of 12 and went on to become the principal trombonist for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Another is Dr. Donald Hunsberger, who became Director of Ensembles at the Eastman Conservatory of Music.
Currently, The Red Hill Band performs about 25 concerts each summer in the Montgomery County area for a variety of fairs, church festivals and park events. The Band charges a modest fee to sponsoring organizations and the concerts are free to the public. The Band practices each week in the New Goshenhoppen Park in East Greenville, in a band shell that is a scale model of the band shell in Willow Grove Park where John Philip Sousa performed for many years.
Band members have come from all walks of life — white collar, blue collar, teachers, veterinarians, and businessmen. Band members are all volunteers, playing only for the joy of music and receive no compensation other than reimbursement for travel expenses to performance sites.
Our artistic mission is to do everything possible to continue the tradition of band concerts in parks and at civic and social events, playing marches, show tunes and other traditional concert band music. Opening each concert with our National Anthem and closing each concert with The Stars and Stripes Forever is a tradition that must never be lost on any generation of children, nor any group of veterans or senior citizens who treasure the memories and inspiration provided by uplifting and patriotic concert band music. The fifty members of The Red Hill Band are committed to providing their volunteer musical talents to the preservation of this vital national treasure.
The Red Hill Band is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.