In 1899 the Moravian Hope Congregation was founded in Port Elizabeth and a Church erected in Mount Road. A brass band was formed a few years thereafter. In 1950 the congregation was forced to move to Schauderville as a result of the Mount Road area being declared a "White Group Area" under the Group Areas Act. The congregation became known as the Salem Moravian Church, and with it the name of the band also changed. In its early days the band played primarily at church functions for different churches, but it was also an excellent marching band. In those days the band was modelled on the British brass bands and even wore a “military” uniform for marching purposes. From the 1970's the "Posaunenchor" movement in Germany exerted a greater influence on the Moravian Brass Band Union of South Africa (BBSA). The band slowly changed its character as the style of music changed. The instrumentation of the band also changed over the years to the extent that it is now more correct to refer to the band as a brass ensemble rather than a brass band. Although the band still plays for some church processions, it can no longer claim to be a marching band. It has become more of a concert ensemble, but still fulfills its primary role as a church band with distinction.
Only six leaders are identified in the long history of the band. It is not certain who the first leader was, but the Late F J Steenveld was the leader in the 1920’s. He was succeeded by the Late Paul Balie, who, in turn, was succeeded as leader by the Late (Henry) Isaac Hitzeroth, who was succeeded by the Late James Hitzeroth, with the Late Simon Fox as his deputy. In 1974 James Hitzeroth resigned as leader with the adoption of the new “absolute fingering” system. Simon Fox was then appointed as leader, with Tyrone Hitzeroth as his deputy. In 1975 James Hitzeroth, on the instigation of the Rev Chris Wessels, formed the first and only all-girls band in the Moravian Church. After the death of James Hitzeroth in 1987, Tyrone Hitzeroth was appointed as leader of the girls’ band. The two bands in the congregation continued as separate entities until 1990 when they were amalgamated, with Simon Fox and Tyrone Hitzeroth serving as co-leaders. In 1992 a “Veterans’ Band” was formed to accommodate “retired” players. This band consisted of seven players with more than 250 years of experience between them. In 1994 Simon Fox stepped down as co-leader and Tyrone Hitzeroth continued as leader. Whilst the Late Michael Balie, a member of our congregation, was never a member of the band, he rendered valuable assistence to the leaders, both with his extensive knowledge of music and as a transcriber of music. He also played a prominent role in the music life of the Moravian Church in South Africa, having been involved in the founding of both the Brass Band and Choir Unions of the Church. He served as an official of the Brass Band Union from 1951 to 1987.
Over the years the band toured extensively throughout South Africa and the Old Transkei, and in 1994 it became the first band from a single congregation to undertake an overseas tour to Germany. Towards the end of 1994 the band purchased flutes, clarinets and saxophones to form two new bands, a concert band and a stage band, in addition to the “Brass Band” and a Brass Quintet which had also been formed earlier. It is for this reason that “Salem Moravian Bands” has been adopted as a general name. In 2004 the brass ensemble, together with the concert band, again undertook a tour of Germany and Holland. In 2004 the band also released a CD, Salem Moravian Bands - Live in Germany. In 2009 the Band became the first band from the MCSA to undertake a tour to the USA. A DVD was recorded of a concert in Advent Moravian Church, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and will be released by the Moravian Music Foundation in America.
Young players of the band have for many years been encouraged to take private lessons and this has created new opportunities for these players. They are now able to follow a career in music. The band has a good teaching system in place and new players are often accommodated in junior bands with the assistance of various senior players. In the early 1990’s Francois Kamineth was in charge of the junior band. He was followed by Charmaine Fox. Marlon Louis ran a wind band programme for two years to give less experienced players exposure to principle parts. Lester Jonas played an important role as a brass teacher. He has now left town to play professionally in the SA Police Services Band. The achievements of this band is clear proof that we serve a living God, and shows what can be done if we humble ourselves before God and allow Him to use us as His servants.