Pretzel Park will morph into a soundstage tonight with a free performance from the Merion Concert Band from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The band will play nine songs ranging from Frank Sinatra and John Philip Sousa, to patriotic marches and a light cavalry overture.
Since 1977, the Merion Concert band has welcomed musicians of all backgrounds to play music around Philadelphia and the Main Line. Their current roster has around 65 players, says president Merri Lee Newby, and anyone is welcome to join. Auditions are waived, Newby says, because people who are interested in instruments enough to seek out a concert band to perform with, typically have the skill level to perform the band’s music selections.
“Anyone can join this band. Its members range in ages,” Newby says. The Merion Concert Band’s members include high school students, retired musicians and adults who are learning instruments in their spare time who want to supplement their studying. They practice every week and their concert season runs from September through July. Newby says tonight’s performance will mark the conclusion of their concert season until they ramp up again in September. Those attending tonight’s concert will see a robust ensemble of woodwind, brass, percussion and strings sections including saxophones, trombones, euphoniums and clarinets. “There’s a lot to see as well as hear,” Newby says. Newby, who works in medical consulting, has played the oboe and English horn with the Merion Concert band since 2002 and was elected president in 2006. “It’s wonderful that people who play instruments have this band as an outlet to perform,” Newby says. “It brings me tremendous joy to play in it.”