This marks the 44th year Merry Tuba Christmas has been happening around the world, though not nearly that long in Bel Air. Sunday’s performance will be the 11th in the town and second to be held at the high school auditorium.
Because of its popularity, the Bel Air concert, which is free and open to the public, outgrew its original venue at the Bel Air Armory.
“TUBACHRISTMAS,” according to its web site, “was conceived in 1974 by Harvey Phillips as a tribute to his teacher and mentor, William J. Bell, born on Christmas Day, 1902. Through the legendary William J. Bell we reflect on our heritage and honor all great artists/teachers whose legacy has given us high performance standards, well structured pedagogy, professional integrity, personal values and a camaraderie envied by all other instrumentalists.”
Musicians are asked to gather at Bel Air High School to register and rehearsals begin at 3 p.m. Organizers ask that musicians “Wear festive clothes, decorate instruments, bring a music stand, and a cloth for water valve discharge.” Participant registration fee is $10.
“The first TUBACHRISTMAS was conducted by Paul Lavalle in New York City's Rockefeller Plaza Ice Rink on Sunday, December 22, 1974,” according to the organization’s web site. “Traditional Christmas music performed at the first TUBACHRISTMAS was arranged by American composer Alec Wilder who ironically died on Christmas Eve, 1980. Wilder composed many solo and ensemble compositions for tuba and euphonium. He was a loyal supporter of every effort to improve the literature and public image of our chosen instruments. Through Alec Wilder we express our respect and gratitude to all composers who continue to embrace our instruments with their compositions and contribute to the ever growing solo and ensemble repertoire for tuba and euphonium.”