At the first Porterdale TUBACHRISTMAS in 2009, Zachary Chambers (left) and Indian Creek Middle School band director Camilla Keever (right) celebrated the holiday music session with Santa, Eastside High School band director Alan Fowler. (Special photo)
PORTERDALE — Tuba players will have the opportunity to take center stage on Sunday during the fifth annual Porterdale TUBACHRISTMAS event.
The city’s holiday celebration features the musicians wearing festive attire and funny hats while holding tubas decorated with tinsel, bows and flashy lights.
The first TUBACHRISTMAS was performed 40 years ago at New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza Ice Rink in 1974 and has spread across the globe as a popular holiday event.
Harvey Phillips conceived the idea of gathering tuba players to perform Christmas music as a tribute to his teacher and mentor William J. Bell, born on Christmas Day, 1902.
Porterdale is one of five cities in Georgia to host a TUBACHRISTMAS concert.
Lowell Chambers, Porterdale city councilman, coordinates the holiday music session, inviting tuba players from all over to participate. Over the years the event has grown from 25 to more than 45 tuba players who rehearse just an hour before the concert.
Chambers said he hopes to host more than 50 tubas this year.
“It’s an ad hoc concert, but the main event is just tuba players getting together,” Chambers said. “When you can get 30 or 40 tuba players together that is extraordinary, and they really enjoy the experience.”
Eastside High School band director Alan Fowler has played in TUBACHRISTMAS events in Chicago, Indiana, Dollywood and throughout Georgia. He is the conductor for Porterdale’s festivities.
“It is always great to get together with other musicians and especially with other special low brass people,” Fowler said.
This year’s TUBACHRISTMAS was planned to be held at the historic Porterdale Memorial Gymnasium’s new amphitheater, but with the gloomy weather forecast Chambers is unsure if the concert will be held under the open sky.
Chambers said depending on the weather the event might be moved to the “bus station” space that was created for the recent filming of “Trip to Bountiful.”
All tuba participants will receive the 2009 TUBACHRISTMAS souvenir button. Past participants should bring carol books and first-timers may purchase books of carols at registration.
The free public performance will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday. The audience is encouraged to bring lawn chairs for seating.
Registration fee: $10
Registration: 1-2 p.m. Porterdale City Hall
Rehearsal: 2-3 p.m. “Bus Station” space
Performance: 3 p.m. Porterdale Memorial Gymnasium or “Bus Station” depending on weather
Contact: Players can call 770-784-5894 or 404-787-2319 for more information