Paul Ferla, co-founder of the Montgomery County Concert Band, passed away on October 16, 2009.
“Paul Ferla, a musical icon in the Southeastern Pennsylvania area, passed away October 16th. Paul had waged a valiant battle for several months following injuries and medical complications brought on by an automobile accident. Through the years, his business sense and love of music fostered a variety of performance opportunities for area musicians, through not only the MCCB, but the PA Swing Dance Band and other ensembles – small and large. Whether on a one-to-one basis, volunteering in the community, playing his trombone or fronting his Swing Band, it was obvious that Paul enjoyed his family, life, people and of course music. He will be missed by all.”
Stephen Frederick, Director, MCCB
Paul Ferla was a man from a previous generation, where you never took for granted your money, your friends, or your way of life. He seemed to live for the fun of helping others to have fun. His great excitement in life was entertaining, in any way he could. He could capture an audience and keep them until the end of the show. He surrounded himself with wonderful musicians and kept the audience toe tapping the whole time. We will miss his showmanship and love of his fellow man, but we are all fortunate to have known him. He was a driving force behind the establishment of the Montgomery County Concert Band, and our success is due in no small part to his efforts.
Charles Neidhardt, Assistant Director, MCCB
“I have known Paul for 25 years. I have many times played in his bands and enjoyed his ability, in his own unique way, to charm not only an audience, but to engage truly fine musicians to play gigs for ‘peanuts’ and we loved it, and him. He leaves a void like no other. ‘Requiescat in Pace.’
Ed Neiderhiser, Professional Jazz Trumpet Player
“Paul was a kind man who often frustrated me when we played, but always a ‘sweetheart’ as a human being. I’ll miss his ‘count offs’, his passion for his music, his dedication and his ever present smile. Where ever he’s going, he’ll be leading a band and enjoying it. God bless him.”
Ed Etkins, Professional Jazz Saxophonist and Music Educator
“Paul would frequent nursing facilities and entertain the residents by dancing with them and playing along with a ‘boom box’. Paul was a clever businessman, and his diplomacy helped to ‘book’ many gigs for the groups in which he played. From personal experience, I know about his ability to charm people. When my mother was in a nursing facility, she flatly refused to leave her room or to participate in any social activities. Everyone in our family and many of her friends, attempted to get her involved, but we finally gave up. The next time I worked with Paul, he said ‘I met your mother, she had a good time in the social hall.’ Paul managed to charm her ‘back into the swing of things’. He didn’t even know we were related until after his party. This is the kind of man he was. Paul, we will miss you. I am sure you will be as charming in the next life as you were in this one.”
Donald Kline, Professional Saxophonist and Music Educator
Music was an integral part of Paul Ferla’s life as far back as he can remember! Paul started playing trombone in the Ambler School District when he was in seventh grade and continuing throughout his school career. In 1942, after enlisting in the Navy, Paul played his trombone in the regiment concert and jazz band. He was stationed on the U.S.S. South Dakota where he played in the ship’s band. On the South Dakota, musicians would perform, stand the watch, and load guns during an attack. (The South Dakota had a highly ranked gun crew and was selected to host the signing of the peace treaty with Japan; however President Truman was from Missouri, so the signing was relocated to the ship bearing that name.) The captain often ordered the band to play quietly as a boost to morale. Paul continued the concept of boosting morale with his music for the rest of his life.
After his Navy career, Paul continued his education via the G.I. Bill. He focused on starting a business. His endeavors included: a watch repair shop and a sandwich shop in Ambler, a sandwich shop in North Wales and an ice cream shop in the Montgomery Mall. He owned and managed his businesses for the next forty years. He was elected as Montgomery Township Supervisor for six years and police commissioner for two years.
He used his managerial and political skills to handle his musical ensembles. Paul organized and formed the Pennsylvania Dance Swing Band, which he lead until his passing. In 1995 he put his idea to organize a concert band into motion. He piqued the interest of director Stephen Frederick, and the Montgomery County Concert Band was established with 25 musicians. With Paul’s business management and Steve’s musical leadership, the band has expanded to what you see and hear today. In addition to the swing band and the MCCB, Paul organized and lead the Great American Brass Band.
Paul played with Senator Ed Holl’s Orchestra (which played at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, NJ and Sunny Brooke Ballroom in Pottstown, PA), the Norristown Verdi Band, the Lansdale VFW Band, the Quakertown Band, and Giamo’s Orchestra in Morristown. He was a member of the Windjammers Unlimited Inc., the Association of Concert Bands, and the Pennsylvania International Federation of Music.
Paul, the world was a better place with you in it. You will always be alive in our memory.