Christmas is not something that you just dump something on! It’s not a big truck! It’s a series of tubas!
This weekend the city where I live, Madison, Wisconsin, is getting ready for a big concert: TubaChristmas.
Hundreds of musicians will come together at the state capitol to play some festive music exclusively on tubas, baritone horns, sousaphones and and euphoniums.
All of which is cool, of course, and there are concerts just like this one all over the place this month.
How did Christmas get so tuba-ey?
The answer: Harvey Phillips, a music professor at Indiana University.
He believed very strongly that the tuba deserved more credit than it usually got, that it wasn’t just a novelty.
He put together the first TubaChristmas concert in 1974 as a tribute to his musical mentor, William J. Bell, who was born on Christmas Day 1902.
Plus, what better time of year to showcase the instrument than this time of year, when there’s usually lots of music around?
The TubaChristmas website lists hundreds of concerts in almost every corner of the US, and Australia, Canada, and Costa Rica too.
All of it showing that tubas have definitely not hit their lowest point. (Sorry for the pun.)
Harvey Phillips, the music professor and tuba evangelist, liked to say that tuba players could get really into their instruments.
There’s perhaps no better example of that than Stan Freese, a very accomplished tuba player in Placentia, California.
Freese decorated the tree in his yard with multiple tubas, and even made sure there was lighting nearby at night so people could see the tuba tree anytime they wanted.
For a shining moment a year, tubas get spotlight (New York Times)
About TubaChristmas (TubaChristmas.com)
Placentia musician’s tuba tree is home bass (Orange County Register)
Tuba Christmas photo by Michael Leland via Flickr/Creative Commons