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 modeled 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 five 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, followed by the Late Henry Isaac Hitzeroth, who, in turn, was succeeded as leader 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, at the request of Rev Chris Wessels, James Hitzeroth formed the first and only all-girls band in the Moravian Church. In 1987 Tyrone Hitzeroth together with four members of the Salem Girls’ Band, namely Jo-Anne Brown, Shereen Brown, Berenice Leeuwskieter and Charmaine Fox, formed part of the first BBSA “select band” to tour Germany. Sadly James Hitzeroth died during the course of this tour and Tyrone Hitzeroth was thereafter 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. 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 of the Moravian Church in South Africa 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 2000 three players from the band, namely Tyrone Hitzeroth (tour leader), Marlon Louis and Lester Jonas accompanied a BBSA Brass Ensemble on a tour of Germany and Holland. The highlight of the tour was the participation in the Hannover Expo 2000 for one week. In June 2003 Tyrone Hitzeroth and Ulrich Jansen visited the USA together with three other members of BBSA at the invitation of the Moravian Music Foundation. There they participated in the 21st Moravian Music Festival in Winston-Salem, NC. In September 2003, Tyrone Hitzeroth, Jo-Lynn Telling and Adam Mohamed formed part of the fateful BBSA visit to Nambia when eight members of the group died tragically in an accident on the way home. In 2004 the band undertook a second tour to Germany and Holland. In 2006, Jo-Lynn Telling and Bernard Fortuin of the Western Cape visited the USA and participated in the 22nd Moravian Music Festival in Columbus, Ohio. In 2009 the band became the first band from the MCSA to undertake a tour to the USA, where it participated in the 23rd Moravian Music Festival in Belmont, NC from 19 to 25 July 2009. Jo-Lynn Telling and Tyrone Hitzeroth are part of a BBSA Brass Ensemble preparing to go on a tour to Germany, where the highlight will be participating in the Brass Band Festival of the Brass Works of the Church of Hannover in August 2010. This festival is linked to the millenial jubilee celebrations of the Church of St Michaelis in Hildesheim.
Young players of the band have for many years been encouraged to take private lessons and this has created new opportunities 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 bands. Charmaine Fox took charge of the junior bands for several years. Marlon Louis ran a wind band programme for two years to give less experienced players exposure to principle parts. The band now has a very wide repertoire of music, covering almost the full spectrum. The band gives three concerts per year and performs on average about seventy times a year at church-, school-, and other functions within the entire community of Port Elizabeth. A musical highlight was when the Brass Band was placed as runners-up to the UPE Brass Quintet in the Open Section of the ABSA Youth Music Competition in 1997. Here the band competed against all the best ensembles in Port Elizabeth.
Members of the band have also served BBSA well over the years. Henry Isaac Hitzeroth served on the first executive elected in 1951. Other members who served on the BBSA Executive are: the Late Henry Alexander Hitzeroth and James Brown, Tyrone Hitzeroth, Antoinette Brown, Jo-Anne Brown, Venus Rasoul, Ulrich Jansen and Jo-Lynn Telling. Tyrone Hitzeroth is currently the chairman of the Eastern Cape Branch, and Jo-Lynn Telling, the secretary. Ulrich Jansen has in the meantime also returned to Enon, where he became the leader of the brass band there. Tyrone Hitzeroth and Jo-Lynn Telling also represented BBSA on various forums, including the Synod of the Moravian Church in South Africa.
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.