The Salem County Brass Society is a non-profit musical organization dedicated to bringing the music of a quality brass ensemble
to the residents of Salem County in Southern New Jersey.
As a large ensemble, the Salem County Brass Society has existed since the Spring of 1974. The ensemble got its early beginnings in the Spring of 1970, when a trio of high school students was asked to play for an Easter sunrise service at Union Presbyterian Church of Carneys Point, New Jersey. Inspired by then assistant pastor, Rev. William Shaub and coordinated by Mr. Charles H. Musser, the group maintained approximately five to six church members for the next several years, playing only sporadically at Union Church. In mid 1973, the ensemble began to gain in popularity and interest, increasing in size slowly and playing more regularly. As the caliber of music and musicianship improved, the group began to entice more adults to join and eventually reached beyond Union Presbyterian Church to include representatives from numerous area churches and several Salem County Communities. Today members come from Hammonton, NJ, Blue Bell, PA, Wilmington and Newark, DE, as well as several Salem County communities, to rehearse weekly.
By 1974, the size of the organization was such that the ensemble needed a director. These duties were taken over by Mr. O. Stephen White, one of the group's trombonists.
In 1975, the ensemble adopted the name Salem County Brass Society, and also became a financially independent organization, no longer relying on financial support from Union Presbyterian Church. The church continues to support the organization by providing the Brass Society with their own rehearsal space and accompanying facilities. The group incorporated in July of 1979.
Since 1974, the Bass Society has been playing regularly at many South Jersey and Salem County churches, by invitation. Since this practice began, they have been in great demand, scheduling their performances several months in advance. Upon the resignation of Mr. White, duties of music director were assumed by Mr. Ronald D. Miller, in April of 1982. After being without a full-time director for eighteen months in January 1988, Mr. Charles H. Musser was named Music Director, and Mr. James R. Howe named as Associate Conductor. In 1998, Mr. James R. Howe retired from the Brass Society. In 2001, Dr. Michael Culbert was named Associate Conductor of the Society. In 2006, director and original member, Mr. Charles Musser retired. After a year long search, the distinguished Mr. Phil Blackman was selected as the group's newest Music Director.
In addition to playing in churches, the Brass Society plays for many civic and social functions during the year, and is in great demand to play wedding ceremonies. The highlight of the playing year is the annual Spring Scholarship Concert, which began in 1976. The Spring Scholarship Concert features noted guest artists from around the region.
In 1994, the Brass Society added another dimension to its performances with the formation of a quintet within the ensemble which goes by the name of "The Moonlight Brass Quintet." In 1991, the Brass Society joined forces with the Salem Community College Oak Singers, a 50+ voice community choral, also under the direction of Mr. Musser.
Each year the Brass Society presents a $200 savings bond and certificate to an outstanding graduating brass player at each of the five Salem County high schools. In 1986, the Brass Society began awarding a $1,000 single scholarship to a Salem County music student entering college to study music in any discipline. That scholarship has grown to $2,000 and will no doubt increase again in the future, as support for the scholarship fund continues.
The Brass Society makes no solicitation of funds for playing at regular morning worship services, but welcomes any donations to the organization to cover operating expenses. Fees are charged for civic programs, evening concerts, weddings and other special events.
The playing season for the Salem County Brass Society extends from September through June. Inquiries should be addressed to the Salem County Brass Society, c/o Scott West, 313 Lynn Ave., Wenonah, NJ 08090, or by calling (856) 468-7134.