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Musicians put a little oompah into Christmas

ChristmasVille, Rock Hill's annual Christmas festival, kicked off Thursday with the lighting program and runs through Sunday.
ChristmasVille, Rock Hill's annual Christmas festival, kicked off Thursday with the lighting program and runs through Sunday.

This won't be your usual bunch of carolers.

More than 50 tuba and euphonium players from the Rock Hill area will come together Saturday afternoon to play Christmas carols at the Rock Hill Galleria.

The event, dubbed Merry TubaChristmas, will offer free entertainment to holiday shoppers.

Sarita Maxwell, who teaches tuba and euphonium at Winthrop University, organized the event and hopes that 75 to 100 players will turn out. Maxwell has played in TubaChristmas events in other cities and said she's excited to bring the event home to Rock Hill.

"The camaraderie is great," she said. "Everyone's there to have a great time, and you can get an opportunity to play some seasonal music."

Merry TubaChristmas events are held annually in more than 200 cities worldwide.

Harvey Phillips organized the first Merry TubaChristmas in New York City in 1974 to honor his teacher, the late William J. Bell, who was born on Christmas Day in 1902.

"The benefit is for the good of the young people who play the tuba and the euphonium, to give them some pride and give them some identification with their instrument," Phillips said.

"I wanted a way to preserve his memory in the minds of all the young people who take up the instrument today."

First year for Rock Hill

Since 1974, the events have spread across the country and overseas. This is the first year Rock Hill will host an event.

Proceeds from Merry TubaChristmas events go to the Harvey Phillips Foundation, which supports tuba players through scholarships and the commissioning of new works.

"This is a chance for us to show that the tuba is more than oom-pah-pah," said David Cole, a Rock Hill elementary school music teacher. "It's a beautiful instrument, and it's a lot of fun."

What: Merry TubaChristmas featuring Christmas carols

When and where: 2 p.m. Saturday, Rock Hill Galleria

More information: tubachristmas.com

Want to play? Tuba players interested in participating should report to Room 120 of Winthrop University's conservatory of music at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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