It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Written by Michael O’Hearn; Photos submitted

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, according to singer Andy Williams, and here in the Foothills the Christmas season is ramping up with parades, strolls, and concerts held throughout the area this month in anticipation of the holidays.

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TubaChristmas, the free concert that brings tubas, euphoniums and baritones together from across western North Carolina, South Carolina and Western Carolina University, will be celebrating its 19th year of performances in Polk County with a free concert conducted by Jamie Hafner, accomplished tuba player, at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 in the Polk County High School auditorium.

PCHS band teacher Cindy Gilbert will be guest conductor for “Jingle Bells” during the concert.

Delivering free holiday concerts around the world since 1974, Merry TubaChristmas was inspired by Harvey Phillips as an annual event to honor his mentor and teacher, the late tuba player William J. Bell, who was born on Christmas Day in 1902. The first TubaChristmas concert was conducted Paul Lavalle on Dec. 22, 1974.

Betsy Zeek, publicist for the TubaChristmas at PCHS and a Tryon Estates resident, has been steering the reins of the sleigh for five years after Stan Howell, another Tryon Estates resident, acted as coordinator emeritus for the show for 14 years.

Every Christmas season, tuba and euphonium players of all ages gather to pay respect, through Bell, to all the great artists and teachers who represent their heritage. Merry TubaChristmas concerts will be presented in over 280 cities throughout the United States and in several foreign countries this year, according to Zeek. 

Zeek said every TubaChristmas performance features traditional Christmas carols especially by American composer Alec Wilder. Through Wilder, TubaChristmas concerts pay tribute to composers who have embraced these instruments with solo and ensemble compositions.

“Depending on the population of any given geographic area, TubaChristmas ensembles may attract multiples of 100 participants aged 6 to over 90 years,” Zeek said. “The warm, rich organ-like sound of the tuba-euphonium choir has won the ears and hearts of every audience.” •