The William Bell Tuba Day event is an annual celebration of the life of Bill Bell, one of the prominent tubists of the 20th Century and an Iowa native who was laid to rest in the Violet Hill Cemetery of Perry, IA.
The event started in 1978, initially put together by Harvey Phillips (one of Mr. Bell’s prominent students and his successor at the University of Indiana) along with a number of local tubists; professional and amateur alike. Since then, then event has continued to bring in tubists from around the Midwest (with the occasional long distance guest or former student of Mr. Bell) for a day of playing, socializing and learning more about this instrument that Mr. Bell popularized.
The day typically consists of a large group ensemble rehearsal, with tubists and euphoniums typically splitting into four part harmony. The ensemble is typically lead by an honored guest; someone known for their contributions to the community of tubists – either as an instructor, a player or a craftsman dedicated to low brass instruments and the tuba in particular. The clinician will also have roughly an hour to engage the attendees in a master class performance – either playing, teaching or talking about an interesting career. The large group then opens a concert to the general public and afterward everyone is invited to the Violet Hill Cemetery to perform two of Mr. Bell’s favorite pieces at his gravesite as the late autumn Iowa sun begins to set.
(Part of the 2017 concert, courtesy of the Perry News.)