The New Holland Band traces it's history back to 1829, when a group of musicians from town playing fifes and drums formed a band to provide music for the 51st Regiment, Pennsylvania State Militia. This founding date makes The New Holland Band the second oldest municipal band in the nation. By 1842, the band was known as The New Holland Vintage Band. The fifes and drums had now been replaced by clarinets, trumpets, trombones, bass instruments, and percussion. The Vintage Band performed at civic events in New Holland and around Lancaster County.
After a period of inactivity, the band was reorganized in 1856. Eleven men from New Holland organized a band, and purchased instruments and uniforms. This band became a part of the Earl Infantry Company, and provided music for military ceremonies and community events. They chose Isaac Witwer as their director. In 1858, they became known as the Earl Infantry Band.
In 1864, this band enlisted as a group with Witwer as their director, and formed the basis of the regimental band for the 203rd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. The New Holland musicians saw action in Virginia and North Carolina. The band was mustered out of service in June 1865 at the conclusion of the war, and arrived back in New Holland one month later.
In the early 1900's, the band became affiliated with the Patriotic Order Sons of America, and was known as the P.O.S. of A. Band. This band was reorganized just before World War I, and was called the Citizen's Band of New Holland. The band kept busy in the community during the war and up to about 1925, when it disbanded.
The need for a youth band was recognized by leaders in the community, and the Lions Club created a committee to organize a Boy's Band. John Baldwin was hired to instruct the boys, and lead the band. Nearly 90 boys signed up, and they made their debut in June 1929 at Storb Field. This band disbanded around 1936 with the success of The New Holland High School Band.
When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, patriotism in New Holland swelled to a new high, and the need for a band was obvious. Again, with help from the Lions Club, a new band was formed and named The Victory Band of New Holland, which made their premier performance on July 4th, 1942. Prior to World War II the main function of the band was ceremonial in nature, both for civilian and military affairs. During the Victory Band Era however, the foundations for the present concert band were laid.
The band thrived, and was reorganized in 1958 and named The New Holland Band, with Samuel O. Zimmerman as their conductor. He led the band to new heights and continued in this position until his retirement in 1980. Marlin Houck was then appointed director of the band. An experienced band director and performer, Houck continued to raise the quality level of the band, and began to produce recordings available for purchase to friends of the band. He continued as director until his retirement in 2005. His replacement, Dr. Kenneth Laudermilch, remains the band's director today. A retired director from West Chester University, Laudermilch continues the legacy of fine leadership, challenging band members to greater accomplishment and producing memorable performances enjoyed by audiences.
In the years since it was first formed, The New Holland Band has evolved from a military parade and light concert band to the present symphonic band. It's work has also changed, as old-time picnics, carnivals, and festivals have been replaced by public concerts in parks, churches, and schools. In 1974, the band expanded the scope of its activities further with a European tour centered around New Holland's sister city, Longvic, France. In addition to concerts in and around Longvic, the band performed in Paris and Dijon and in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland.
The New Holland Band is incorporated as a non-profit organization, receiving its charter in 1959. The band functions according to a constitution and by-laws, which establishes a board of directors to manage the affairs of the band. Tax-exempt status was granted in 1977 due to the band's educational and musical attributes. All performances are by contractual arrangement.
Membership includes professional and non-professional musicians, along with college and high school student musicians. Included also are persons from all walks of life such as educators, business professionals, industrial workers, carpenters, clerks, nurses, and homemakers. Most musicians, especially the younger musicians, serve an apprenticeship of several seasons before being considered for active membership status. Active membership is conferred based on competence, need, and availability of opportunity.
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