Olney: Orchestra Thriving After 67 Years

Orchestra members warmed up before their performance at Berachah church in Cheltenham.
Orchestra members warmed up before their performance at Berachah church in Cheltenham.
Orchestra members warmed up before their performance at Berachah Church in Cheltenham.

The Olney Symphony Orchestra performed its second concert of its 67th year as an organization this week.

The two-hour performance at Berachah church in Cheltenham featured Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 in F Major and a solo by Temple University student Elena Smith. Although the orchestra’s 36 members look forward to such performances, many said they relish the nearly weekly rehearsal time led by conductor Jack Moore.

“The best thing about this orchestra is Jack Moore,” said french horn player Josh Mitteldorf. “He’s constantly working us and teaching us section by section how to play the music. He knows the repertoire really well so he comes up with really interesting pieces.”

Mitteldorf, like many other orchestra members, has been in various orchestras throughout the city and elsewhere. However, he said  he enjoys that Olney Symphony Orchestra provides an opportunity to collaborate and grow with other musicians. Several members have been with the orchestra since its founding in 1946. Trumpet player and 50-year member Charles Wurster recalled the organization’s beginnings as a merging of mutual interests. While in high school, several of Wurster’s friends in Olney were musicians and started playing together to form an orchestra.

“I found out that they were having the first rehearsal, so I showed up. I was the only trumpet player there,” Wurster said.

For many in Olney, the orchestra became a means of connecting with other musicians. Anne Perrong joined the group in 1959 as a cellist, but stopped playing after 49 years due to health reasons. She now heads the orchestra’s welcoming committee.

“First of all, music is a part of my life,” Perrong said reflecting on why she joined the orchestra. “Second of all, I made lifelong friends. Third of all, I like to play.

Since its founding, the Olney Symphony Orchestra has grown to include members from throughout the city and its suburbs and has performed  at various community events and senior homes around Northeast Philadelphia. The orchestra’s next concert is scheduled for May 27.


  1. I still remember the first rehearsal, after it, I contacted my trumpet player friends along with trombone player friends, The next week there was a full brass section in the orchestra

  2. I just remembered that some friends of mine played violin,cello and viola. there were 2or 3 people who were instrumental in forming the orchestra, since we were only 15/16 at the time it was the parent of one who was partially responsible for starting the orchestra,.

    since I no longer live in Olney, it makes me wonder how many Olneyites come to hear our concerts at the church on Ashbourne rd.,

  3. PS’ I can still name the father and his friend who were instrumental in starting the orchestra. They got in touch with Theodor Koerner whobecame the orchestra’s first conductor, then at the second rehearsal there was a high school friend of mine who’s father was the conductor of the orchestra. More than likely she was at the first rehearsal because of “daddy” being the maestro. Then I contacted a couple of my friends who played trumpet and trombone. so at the next rehearsal there was just about a complete brass section.

  4. oops!! time in short ! I’ve got to get out the door. rehearsal starts in about ant hour. I no longer live around the corner. lol

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