Once again, it’s Tuba Time in Porterdale.
It’s the sixth straight year TUBACHRISTMAS will be heard in Porterdale, with it all starting in 2009 when 29 tuba players took the stage at the train depot.
The next year, 41 tuba players filled the main stage, spilled onto the lower stage and even onto the ground. Participation in the event has increased and audience support has grown every year.
This year organizers are planning for at least 50 Tuba players, and the concert will move to the Historic Porterdale Gym Sunday, starting at 3 p.m., which has been newly repurposed as an open-air event space.
The Porterdale event features festive and frivolous attire, outrageous hats, and tubas decorated with tinsel, bows, and flashing lights. The concert typically begins with a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells that incorporates strains of John Phillip Sousa. Christmas carols – sacred and secular, inspirational and fun – will follow as the enthusiastic crowd joins in singing.
Alan Fowler, band director at Eastside High School and for the Newton County Community Band will be the conductor for the Porterdale event. Dan Ragsdale will lead the audience in singing favorite Christmas carols accompanied by the tuba choir.
TUBACHRISTMAS is a series of festivals that take place between Thanksgiving and Christmas in cities around the country as tuba and euphonium players (a euphonium is a small tuba) gather to celebrate both the season and their oft misunderstood instruments.
This is the 41st year for TUBACHRISTMAS, which is celebrated in more than 200 cities, in nearly every state, and has even spread internationally with events in Canada and Switzerland.
Renowned tuba player, Harvey Phillips organized the first TUBACHRISTMAS in New York City's Rockefeller Plaza Ice Rink on Sunday, Dec. 22, 1974. It was conceived as a tribute to his teacher William J. Bell, who was born on Christmas Day, 1902. Since its inception, TUBACHRISTMAS has spread to communities large and small, and has now been inherited by a third-generation of tuba players who pay tribute to both Mr. Bell and to Mr. Phillips who passed away in 2010.
TUBACHRISTMAS is open to all levels of players, from professional musicians to middle school beginners.
Porterdale is one of only four or five Georgia cites sanctioned to hold celebrations each year. TUBACHRISTMAS events in Atlanta, Savannah and Athens are bigger and have been known to draw hundreds of tubas. However, diehard TUBACHRISTMAS fans who participate in multiple events each year have complimented the Porterdale event as one of the best organized and fun events in the state. Participants gladly drive to Porterdale from Atlanta, Gainesville, and Carrollton. Past celebrations have attracted players from Alabama, Tennessee and even Germany.
All Porterdale TUBACHRISTMAS participants will receive the 2014 TUBACHRISTMAS souvenir button. Past participants should bring their carol books. First timers may purchase books of carols at registration. TUBACHRISTMAS stocking caps and scarves will be available for sale but the supply is limited so you may want to come early. There is a $10. registration fee for players. Tuba players should call 770-784-5894 or 404-787-2319 for more information.
Players should register at Porterdale City Hall between 1-2 p.m. Sunday. An indoor rehearsal will be held from 2-3 p.m. in the “Rassling” space next to Argyle’s Coffee House. The free public performance will be at 3:00 at the Historic Gym Amphitheater. The audience is encouraged to dress warmly and to bring lawn chairs.
This is a family event that appeals to young and old. Many people have never seen a tuba up close, much less tubas by the dozens. Here is an opportunity to see and hear all shapes and sizes, as well as some unique and antiques instruments. Audiences and players alike are awed by the unusual spectacle.