Charles H. Neidhardt, Conductor
Mr. Neidhardt is a graduate of Duquesne University and received his Master’s Degree from Penn State University. He is the former band director at Arcola Intermediate School and served as Music Department chairperson for the Methacton School District. Throughout the years, his bands at both Lower Merion and Methacton have performed and received awards at state conferences, local events, festivals and competitions. Mr. Neidhardt previously taught music in the Souderton and Lower Merion School Districts before retiring in July 2005 from Methacton.
Mr. Neidhardt is immediate Past President of PMEA having formerly served as President of District 11 PMEA. He has served as All State Chair, hosted the All State Band as well as All State auditions and served as Chair of the State Adjudication Festivals. He is a member of Phi Beta Mu Honorary Bandmaster Fraternity, a recipient of the “Citation of Excellence” award from the National Band Association, an Honorary Lifetime member of “Tri-M” the National Music Honor Society, and is listed in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers”. Mr. Neidhardt performs as a member of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra, the Montgomery County Concert Band, where he is also the Director, the Tubafores Tuba Quartet, and does additional freelance work in the Philadelphia area. He maintains a large private studio and many of his private students have been members of the District, Region, All State and All East Bands and Orchestras.
Ryan Pongras, Assistant Conductor
Ryan Pongras is a 2001 graduate of West Chester University with a BS in Music Education. He holds a Masters of Education from Cabrini College and has completed post graduate work in music education with The University of the Arts. From 2003 to present, he has taught 4th and 5th grade instrumental music in the Souderton Area School District. His arrangements and original compositions have been performed by area local young bands in addition to the PMEA District 11 Elementary Honors Band and Orchestra. Ryan joined the Montgomery County Concert Band in 2005 as a trumpet player. He was named co-assistant director in the fall of 2014. Away from playing and conducting, Ryan lives in Telford with his wife Kristine, daughter Brynn, and son Cole.
Helaine Brown-4H Educator (ret)
Erin Cribbs-Medical Assistant
Faith Wasson-Freelance Musician
Michael Langston-Music Educator
Maggie Oswald-Music Educator
Don Dilmore-Librarian (ret)
Donna Higgins-Legal Editor
Brooke Kuhlen-Office Manager
Terri Rice-Music Educator (ret)
Lois A. Russo-Music Educator (ret)
Morgen Williard-Technical Consultant
Jennifer Monaghan-Music Educator
Ray Orehowsky-Construction Manager
Chris Del Sordo-Software Manager
Chuck Blackledge-Manager (ret)
Jan Jochems-Civil Engineer
Bill Leslie-Pharmaceutical Research (ret)
Diane Frank-Graphic Designer (ret)
Steve Hendricks-Home Inspector
Marcy Klugman-Music Educator (ret)
Joe Gerdelmann-IT Professional (ret)
Jem Jochems-Clinical Scientist
Rob Johannesson-Automation Engineer
Allison Kershner-Music Educator
Greg Kriebel-Technical Manager
Brian Leonard-Music Educator
Bret Mascaro-Adjunct Professor, WCU
Keith Schneck-CPA (ret)
Rob Bonner-Physician (ret)
Michael Farrell-US Treasury IT (ret)
Pete Palan-Music Educator (ret)
Ben Basalik-Music Educator
Tom Kelly-Music Sales
Bob Platt-Bus Driver
Cindy Reese-Occupational/Music Therapist
Paul Smith-Music Retail
Enid Horowitz-Grant Writer (ret)/musician
Board members and officers:
President – Michael Langston
Vice-president – Helaine Brown
Secretary – Brooke Kuhlen
Treasurer – Jody Celio
Board members at large:
Debbie Swiren (Jazz Band representative)
Board members ex officio:
Chuck Neidhardt Director
Ryan Pongras Assistant Director
Business Manager – Lois Russo
Personnel Manager – Jan Jochems
Equipment Manager – Bob Platt
Librarian – Jennifer Monaghan
Historian – Jem Jochems
Webmaster – Dave Holly
The MONTGOMERY COUNTY CONCERT BAND was founded in April, 1995 by Stephen Frederick and Paul Ferla. Since its beginning the band has presented over 300 concerts throughout Montgomery County’s parks, schools and retirement communities.
Band members come from a variety of professions and backgrounds from educators and homemakers, to the business world and health care. Several are retirees or students. Each of them began their musical journey participating in school music programs. Many members continued to play in groups beyond the school setting through the years, and many have joined MCCB to rekindle their love of playing band music. Musicians and directors are volunteers who donate their time to prepare the various programs for the community.
The band’s repertoire ranges from standard and contemporary literature for band to the Broadway stage, classical transcriptions, marches, and patriotic medleys. Featured soloists have included Philadelphia Orchestra principal tuba Carol Jantsch, trombonist Scott Shelsta and outstanding local musicians Jan-Willem Jochems, Anthony Triplett, Peter Neu, Eric Frank, Anthony Wastler, Dave O’Neill, Jeff Miller, Michael Langston, Andrew Neu, Cindy Reese, Joyce Haraway and from the US Navy Band, Souderton native, Marty Nau.
In April 2009, the MCCB had the honor of presenting a formal concert at PMEA, the State Music Educators Conference. In March of 2014, the band was selected to play at the Association of Concert Bands Convention in Allentown and the Pennsylvania Music Educators Conference in Hershey. In Hershey, the band premiered the exciting and moving piece, Blue Elegy, composed by Travis Weller, in memory of Steve Frederick, founding director.
Of special note is the MCCB Outreach Program. Scholarships are awarded in memory of former band members to local talented high school students seeking to further their college music education. “Side by side” concerts have enabled Montgomery County students to play alongside band members. The MCCB has also presented special benefit concerts for Lansdale Community Housing and Manna on Main Street.
Since 1999 the MCCB and the Borough of Lansdale have collaborated as an official “TUBACHRISTMAS” site, bringing together over 70 tuba, sousaphone, euphonium and baritone players from the tri-state area. TUBACHRISTMAS is normally held on the first Sunday in December. Check the website for details as December approaches.
The MCCB is totally self-supporting as a 501c(3) non-profit organization and depends entirely on donations from the public. Formal concerts are free to the public; a free-will offering is accepted.
Rehearsals are held on Tuesday evenings from 7:30 – 9:30 pm during the school year. Contact us for locations.
Stephen E. Frederick, founding director of the Montgomery County Concert Band, passed away on July 20, 2013 after a long illness.
Mr. Frederick was a graduate of West Chester University, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and Villanova University, where he earned his Masters degree in Secondary School Administration. He taught music in the Colonial and Central Bucks School Districts before becoming director of bands at North Penn High School. In 1990, he began his tenure as a school administrator. Mr. Frederick retired in 2003 after 35 years as a music educator and administrator, concluding as Principal of North Penn High School.
Mr. Frederick served as a clinician, guest conductor and judge for marching, concert and jazz band events throughout the country. He was a co-founder and director of the Montgomery County Concert Band. He served as Executive Consultant to the US Scholastic Band Association, based in Allentown. Through the years he supervised student teachers for West Chester University, served on the Board of Governors for the former Gibbs School, hosted programs for WNPV radio (1440 am) in Lansdale, and was active in a variety of community and professional organizations.
Website visitors are invited to leave their thoughts and remembrances below the video.
Paul Ferla, co-founder of the Montgomery County Concert Band, passed away on October 16, 2009.
“Paul Ferla, a musical icon in the Southeastern Pennsylvania area, passed away October 16th. Paul had waged a valiant battle for several months following injuries and medical complications brought on by an automobile accident. Through the years, his business sense and love of music fostered a variety of performance opportunities for area musicians, through not only the MCCB, but the PA Swing Dance Band and other ensembles – small and large. Whether on a one-to-one basis, volunteering in the community, playing his trombone or fronting his Swing Band, it was obvious that Paul enjoyed his family, life, people and of course music. He will be missed by all.”
Stephen Frederick, Director, MCCB
Paul Ferla was a man from a previous generation, where you never took for granted your money, your friends, or your way of life. He seemed to live for the fun of helping others to have fun. His great excitement in life was entertaining, in any way he could. He could capture an audience and keep them until the end of the show. He surrounded himself with wonderful musicians and kept the audience toe tapping the whole time. We will miss his showmanship and love of his fellow man, but we are all fortunate to have known him. He was a driving force behind the establishment of the Montgomery County Concert Band, and our success is due in no small part to his efforts.
Charles Neidhardt, Assistant Director, MCCB
“I have known Paul for 25 years. I have many times played in his bands and enjoyed his ability, in his own unique way, to charm not only an audience, but to engage truly fine musicians to play gigs for ‘peanuts’ and we loved it, and him. He leaves a void like no other. ‘Requiescat in Pace.’
Ed Neiderhiser, Professional Jazz Trumpet Player
“Paul was a kind man who often frustrated me when we played, but always a ‘sweetheart’ as a human being. I’ll miss his ‘count offs’, his passion for his music, his dedication and his ever present smile. Where ever he’s going, he’ll be leading a band and enjoying it. God bless him.”
Ed Etkins, Professional Jazz Saxophonist and Music Educator
“Paul would frequent nursing facilities and entertain the residents by dancing with them and playing along with a ‘boom box’. Paul was a clever businessman, and his diplomacy helped to ‘book’ many gigs for the groups in which he played. From personal experience, I know about his ability to charm people. When my mother was in a nursing facility, she flatly refused to leave her room or to participate in any social activities. Everyone in our family and many of her friends, attempted to get her involved, but we finally gave up. The next time I worked with Paul, he said ‘I met your mother, she had a good time in the social hall.’ Paul managed to charm her ‘back into the swing of things’. He didn’t even know we were related until after his party. This is the kind of man he was. Paul, we will miss you. I am sure you will be as charming in the next life as you were in this one.”
Donald Kline, Professional Saxophonist and Music Educator
Music was an integral part of Paul Ferla’s life as far back as he can remember! Paul started playing trombone in the Ambler School District when he was in seventh grade and continuing throughout his school career. In 1942, after enlisting in the Navy, Paul played his trombone in the regiment concert and jazz band. He was stationed on the U.S.S. South Dakota where he played in the ship’s band. On the South Dakota, musicians would perform, stand the watch, and load guns during an attack. (The South Dakota had a highly ranked gun crew and was selected to host the signing of the peace treaty with Japan; however President Truman was from Missouri, so the signing was relocated to the ship bearing that name.) The captain often ordered the band to play quietly as a boost to morale. Paul continued the concept of boosting morale with his music for the rest of his life.
After his Navy career, Paul continued his education via the G.I. Bill. He focused on starting a business. His endeavors included: a watch repair shop and a sandwich shop in Ambler, a sandwich shop in North Wales and an ice cream shop in the Montgomery Mall. He owned and managed his businesses for the next forty years. He was elected as Montgomery Township Supervisor for six years and police commissioner for two years.
He used his managerial and political skills to handle his musical ensembles. Paul organized and formed the Pennsylvania Dance Swing Band, which he lead until his passing. In 1995 he put his idea to organize a concert band into motion. He piqued the interest of director Stephen Frederick, and the Montgomery County Concert Band was established with 25 musicians. With Paul’s business management and Steve’s musical leadership, the band has expanded to what you see and hear today. In addition to the swing band and the MCCB, Paul organized and lead the Great American Brass Band.
Paul played with Senator Ed Holl’s Orchestra (which played at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, NJ and Sunny Brooke Ballroom in Pottstown, PA), the Norristown Verdi Band, the Lansdale VFW Band, the Quakertown Band, and Giamo’s Orchestra in Morristown. He was a member of the Windjammers Unlimited Inc., the Association of Concert Bands, and the Pennsylvania International Federation of Music.
Paul, the world was a better place with you in it. You will always be alive in our memory.