UPDATED: William Bell memorial concert hits all the low notes

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Chad Thompson of Urbandale, right, organizer of the 2015 William Bell Memorial Tuba and Euphonium Day in Perry, welcomes a visiting tubist to the Saturday rehearsal prior to the clinic and performances. Perry Fine Arts Director Cathy Clark, seated, said the event was a success.

The annual William Bell Memorial Tuba and Euphonium Day drew a small but ardent audience to the First United Methodist Church Saturday afternoon to hear the long waves of the rich and reverberating brass basses in concert.

The featured clinician was Dr. Jesse Orth from the University of Northern Iowa Department of Music, who conducted a rehearsal at 1 p.m., clinic and performance at 3 p.m. and free public concert at 4 p.m.

A twilight memorial performance was also held at Bell’s grave site in Violet Hill Cemetery in Perry. The event was sponsored by Perry Fine Arts.

Orth, a Wisconsin native, teaches applied tuba and euphonium lessons at UNI, directs the UNITUBA ensemble and coaches chamber music ensembles.

“This is a wonderful event,” Orth said at the conclusion of the Violet Hill performance. “Our gesture here at Bell’s grave is especially touching.”

Chad Thompson of Urbandale, right, organizer of the 2015 William Bell Memorial Tuba and Euphonium Day in Perry, welcomes a visiting tubist to the Saturday rehearsal prior to the clinic and performances. Perry Fine Arts Director Cathy Clark, seated, said the event was a success.
Chad Thompson of Urbandale, right, organizer of the 2015 William Bell Memorial Tuba and Euphonium Day in Perry, welcomes a visiting tubist to the Saturday rehearsal prior to the clinic and performances. Perry Fine Arts Director Cathy Clark, seated, said the event was a success.

He said Bell, along with Harvey Phillips and Arnold Jacobs, are considered legendary among tubists, and their reputations are still very bright among contemporary players. It was Phillips who arranged the first William Bell Memorial Tuba Day in 1977 in Perry to honor his teacher.

A Creston native, Bell became principal tubist with the New York Philharmonic in 1943. He later taught the instrument in the famed music program at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. Bell was nursed in his final illness by his sister, Ruth Rankin of Perry, and he died and was buried in Perry.

Chad Thompson of Urbandale, organizer of this year’s Bell event, said he was “very happy to be here again for Perry’s wonderful tribute to William Bell.” Thompson invited his fellow tubists and euphonists to a meal at the Hotel Pattee following the day’s events, where plans for next year’s concert began to take shape.

A lucky attendee at the afternoon concert also won a free night’s stay in the William Bell room at the Hotel Pattee, compliments of Jay Hartz and the Hotel Pattee.

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