By Adam Pack
Lewisburg looks to add a new Christmas tradition to its repertoire with its own rendition of “TubaChristmas.” The first TubaChristmas, a gathering of artists playing a variety of instruments in the “big horn” family, was conducted at Rockefeller Plaza in New York in 1974. It was the brainchild of Harvey Phillips, who wanted to honor the memory of his childhood mentor William J. Bell. Bell was an influential music educator and stellar tuba player who was, importantly, born on Christmas Day 1902. Paul Lavalle conducted the first ever TubaChristmas in New York and it has been a staple there ever since and spread to communities all around the county.
Jim Alder, Greenbrier East High School Band Director, is organizing Lewisburg’s first TubaChristmas. Alder has been attending Tuba Christmases in both Harper’s Ferry and Alexandria since 2016, and says that those small town celebrations acted as the inspiration for wanting to organize a TubaChristmas here in Lewisburg.
“Harper’s Ferry and Alexandria’s Old Town are such historic places and to see this, which is a tribute originally, in and around so much history, it made me think that Lewisburg would be perfect for this sort of thing. We’ve got a really beautiful, historic region,” said Alder, who believes that this tradition could begin with between 25 and 40 players performing.
The event will take place in the Greenspace downtown on Saturday, Dec. 11. Registration will be held in Academy Park at New River’s campus. Registration will begin at 11 a.m. and conclude at 11:45. Participants are encouraged to register early and warm up in the interval so the group can jump right into rehearsal.
In the case of inclement weather, the registration and concert will be held at Hill and Holler.
Participants are required to bring with them a $10 registration fee, their instrument (tuba, euphonium, baritone, sousaphone, tenor horn, flugelbone, ophicleide, etc.), a folding music stand, festive clothing, and a copy of “Carols for a merry TubaChristmas,” by Alec Wilder, the official songbook of TubaChristmas. Alder states that according to TubaChristmas policy, photocopies of the songbook are not allowed, but stand partners may share one songbook. Books will be available for purchase at the registration table for $20 (small) or $25 (large). There will be both BC and TC versions available.
Rehearsals will cease at 1 p.m., and participants will be given a break for lunch and shopping in downtown Lewisburg until 2:45. Then, after reconvening and returning, the concert will begin at 3 and end at 4.
Taking the baton to conduct is Mercer County native and euphonium instructor for the U.S. Army School of Music, Brianna Williams.