The Pioneer Band of Allentown was officially organized on October 10, 1989. However, the band roots go back further. Originally known as the First Ward Cornet Band in 1888, later that year the band changed their name to the Mingo Band. The name Pioneer Band was suggested by the first conductor, George Bogh, who came to Allentown after directing the Catasauqua Pioneer Band.
The band’s first engagement was through the sponsorship of the Knights of the Golden Eagle Lodge in November of 1889.
Following a rehearsal on October 31, 1904, the band left its’ rehearsal hall on Linden Street and joined in with the local Trick or Treaters for an impromptu Halloween Parade. The following year, the Pioneer Band planned and led the first official Allentown Halloween Parade. Next Sunday the oldest Halloween Parade in America will be presented again with members of the Pioneer Band still leading the way.
Another Pioneer Band tradition is performing a Christmas Concert for the residence of the Lehigh County Home (Cedarbrook). A tradition that began in December of 1899 and continues on December 21, 2014.
From 1950 to 1988 the band played at the Commencement exercises at Princeton University.
In 1989 the band celebrated their Centennial with their first recording, a concert tour of Germany, and performances at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and the Protestant Home of Philadelphia.
1993, hosted by Congressman Paul McHale, the band performed at the Ellipse of the White House.
The Pioneer Band has been under the leadership of 15 conductors in their 125 year existence. The conductor serving the band the longest was Jay Durner. Jay conducted the band from 1980 to 2009 when he was given the honor of Conductor Emeritus. We are pleased to have Jay return today.
Today the Pioneer Band consists of nearly 50 full time members, and performs in more than 20 concerts and parades each year.
George F. Bogh - 1989
Edmund Gangewere - 1890
Prof. W.C. Grossman - 1891
Alvin Kemmerer - 1892
Prof. Gustave Theide - 1893
Thomas B. Holstein – 1894
Albert P. Marchetto – 1927
Gerald Reinsmith – 1935
Wayne Nottle – 1969
Gerald Bender – 1971
John DeSousa - 1973
Jay Durner - 1980
Matthew Alercia - 2010
Brian Smith - 2011
Robert Billig – 2012 to Present