The third annual River Valley Tuba Christmas will be Saturday, Dec. 9, at 11:30 a.m. at the King Opera House, 427 Main St. in historic downtown Van Buren.

Event sponsor is the Bekaert Corp. in Van Buren.

“Concert attendees will enjoy a family friendly, free concert of popular Christmas music in a great venue with a possible special visit by Santa Claus,” said Erick Wiggins, human resources manager for Bekaert.

Registration for performers will begin at 8:30 a.m. with rehearsal at 9 a.m. Music will be provided for performers and will also be available for purchase.

“All tuba, sousaphone, baritone and euphonium players are invited to participate in the event, regardless of age or skill level,” Wiggins said. “Performers are encouraged to decorate their instruments for Christmas.”

He said Tuba Christmas concerts are held in cities worldwide and celebrate those who play, teach and compose music for instruments in the tuba family.

This year’s event will feature two special guests from the nation’s top military bands based in Washington, D.C. As an added bonus, student performers will be invited to a private concert and teaching session with special guests, including Staff Sgt. Jeremy McBride, who returns to River Valley Tuba Christmas for the third time.

McBride, a euphoniumist with “Pershing’s Own United States Army Ceremonial Band,” is a past winner of the Euphonium Artist Division of the International Leonard Falcone Euphonium Competition, as well as other major euphonium competitions.

Another guest is Tech Sgt. Erik Lundquist, a euphoniumist with the Ceremonial Brass and a 2014 graduate of the University of North Texas, where he earned his bachelor of music education and performance. He is the winner of the 2016 International Tuba Euphonium Association Mock Euphonium Audition and received second place in the Falcone International Tuba Euphonium Competition that same year.

The master class/teaching session will take place at the King Opera House. This event is open only to students, performers and their families, who attended and performed at Tuba Christmas.

The conductor of River Valley Tuba Christmas will be Dr. Gretchen Renshaw, director of bands at Hendrix College in Conway.

The first Tuba Christmas was organized by Harvey G. Phillips to honor his tuba teacher William Bell, who was born on Christmas Day 1902. It was held Dec. 22, 1974, in the Ice Skating Rink at New York City’s Rockefeller Center. There were more than 300 musicians who played that day, beginning a holiday tradition.

The arrangements of the Christmas carols were written by Alec Wilder, who died on Christmas Eve, 1980. Tuba Christmas concerts vary in size from a quartet (two euphoniums and two tubas), to several hundred at the largest events.