Tuba concert to celebrate Christmas season

Photo by Michael Buckelew

Photo by Michael Buckelew

PORTERDALE -- There have been white Christmases, blue ones and merry ones, but you probably never experienced a tuba Christmas.

Lowell Chambers, a Porterdale resident and City Council member, is aiming to change that with the second annual Porterdale TUBACHRISTMAS set for 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12. Christmas tunes will be performed by an all-tuba band at the free concert, which will take place on Memorial Plaza in downtown Porterdale.

"It's a gathering of tuba players of all ages and skills. Tuba players are used to sitting in the back row and not getting much attention. Most folks don't know they're there," Chambers said. "This is an opportunity for them to move out to the front and have a concert for tubas only. Last year was our first event and we had 29 tuba players. This year, we're hoping to double that."

TUBACHRISTMAS is a series of festivals that take place between Thanksgiving and Christmas in cities around the country as tuba and euphonium players gather to celebrate the season. The first event took place in New York City's Rockefeller Plaza Ice Rink in 1974. This will be the first TUBACHRISTMAS celebrated without founder Harvey Phillips, who died in October. Phillips organized the concert as a tribute to his teacher, who was born on Christmas day.

Since its inception, TUBACHRISTMAS has spread to communities large and small and is now celebrated in more than 200 cities around the country each year. Events are also held in Canada and Switzerland.

Players of all skill levels participate, from professional musicians to middle school beginners. Some decorate their instruments with bows and ornaments and the official fashion accessory is the TUBACHRISTMAS stocking hat available in red, green and blue with a large white pompom on top.

Porterdale is one of six Georgia cities holding celebrations this year. Alan Fowler, band director at Eastside High School, will conduct and perform, along with vocalist Dan Ragsdale, a rollicking rendition of "Santa Wants a Tuba for Christmas," and word is that Santa himself may make an appearance. The concert is free.

"TUBACHRISTMAS is a unique event. It's family oriented. Nowhere else will you find an opportunity to hear this many tuba players playing together. An orchestra or band has one or two. Three would be a lot. Thirty or 40 or 50 tuba players become something extraordinary. It's one of the most unusual instruments of the orchestra," Chambers said.

Given that the concert will be outdoors, the audience is encouraged to dress warmly and bring lawn chairs. Hot chocolate will be available for a donation to the Porterdale C.A.R.E. Committee. In the case of inclement weather, the concert will move to the Porterdale Depot.

Participant registration will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. and rehearsal will start at 2 p.m. at Porterdale City Hall. The concert will begin at 3 p.m. at Memorial Plaza in downtown Porterdale. Past participants should bring carol books and all will receive a souvenir button. There is a $5 registration fee. For more information, call 770-784-5894.