The Merion Musical Society was co-founded by Mary W. Culbert and Joseph Rhode in 1977 with the mission to “foster and promote music and the interests of music in the community.” The Society began as a Symphony Orchestra in 1977, but due to the overabundance of wind players who applied for the few positions available, it soon branched out to develop the Merion Concert Band.
The Concert Band gave two concerts in 1979 under bassoonist Leonard Murphy’s direction. In the 1980–1981 season, Alex Wilson, a professional trumpeter and instrumental teacher in Philadelphia, worked with the band presenting several concerts including two at the Bala Cynwyd Library. Mrs. Culbert, who played French horn in both the Concert Band and the Symphony Orchestra and who had taught instrumental music in the Philadelphia public school system, conducted the band from 1981 until 2006. The years under Mrs. Culbert were fruitful. The band increased in size and repertoire and is now regarded as one the finest concert bands in the area.
Mrs. Culbert’s contributions to the Concert Band and the community were recognized with awards from the Merion Civic Association and the Ardmore Rotary in June of 2007. Mrs. Culbert retired from her position as Treasurer of the Merion Musical Society in May 2011. In recognition of 34 years of continuous service to the Board, she was presented with a commemorative book honoring her many years of leadership and devotion to the Society and the Concert Band.
Mr. Timothy Mullen, clarinetist with the Concert Band, was appointed its Conductor in February 2007. Mr. Mullen’s programming style favored contemporary pieces and the Concert Band added several modern selections to the library during his tenure. Mr. Mullen moved out of the area and resigned his position in January 2010.
Nathan P. Snyder was appointed conductor of the Merion Concert Band in February 2010. Mr. Snyder came to the Merion Concert Band with ten years of conducting experience. His conducting training began at Susquehanna University, where he studied under Dr. Valerie Martin, focusing primarily on chamber music. Mr. Snyder has further training with Mallory Thompson, Craig Kirchoff, H. Robert Reynolds, and Eugene Migliaro Corporon. He served on the faculty of the William Penn and Gurnee (IL) School Districts and has conducted bands from the elementary level through college and beyond.
During the 2019-2020 season, the band conducted a search and selected Bret Mascaro to be its conductor in March 2020, just as the Covid-19 pandemic was spreading and state-wide restrictions were put into place. Due to school and church closures since March 2020, the band has been holding virtual and outdoor rehearsals (weather permitting) with plans to resume regular rehearsals and performances as soon as it is safe to gather in person.