What a crazy way to toot in the holidays! Imagine hundreds of tubas getting together to play Christmas carols?
Welcome to Tuba Christmas.
Believe it or not, this is their 40th anniversary for events where people of all tuba talents can congregate to play to their hearts content throughout the world. Tuba Christmas was conceived in 1974 by Harvey Phillips as a tribute to his teacher and mentor William J. Bell, born on Christmas Day, 1902.
"Through the legendary William J. Bell we reflect on our heritage and honor all great artists/teachers whose legacy has given us high performance standards, well structured pedagogy, professional integrity, personal values and a camaraderie envied by all other instrumentalists," says their website. "The first TUBACHRISTMAS was conducted by Paul Lavalle in New York City's Rockefeller Plaza Ice Rink on Sunday, December 22, 1974. Traditional Christmas music performed at the first TUBACHRISTMAS was arranged by American composer Alec Wilder who ironically died on Christmas Eve, 1980. Wilder composed many solo and ensemble compositions for tuba and euphonium. He was a loyal supporter of every effort to improve the literature and public image of our chosen instruments."
At a recent concert at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills, longtime fan Patricia Samson said, "The low hum of the tubas is very soothing and doesn't jangle your nerves at all." She heard the concert in the Hall of Liberty where more than 100 tubas congregated to play, and she says she suffers from nerve damage and the concerts helps her. She bought their new CD of music, and a scarf to support the voluntary group. (See: tubachristmas.com/merchandise)
Sometimes 400 will participate, like some photos in the gallery above taken in Chicago. They've also played regularly at New York's Rockefeller Center.
This Saturday, Dec. 21, they are playing at Disneyland, for one of the largest planned gatherings on the West Coast. It's at 1 p.m. at the Downtown Disney Mall.
Is it for everyone? Toluca Lake middle school student Joe Roberts, who is a sixth grader going to Walter Reed Middle School, has taken up the tuba for the school band. He and his mom went recently to a concert and he wrote a report about it.
The performing groups were the USC Bass Tuba Quartet and the Hollywood Tuba 12 and the LA Philharmonic tuba player and session players from movie sound tracks plus the general tuba-playing public. Two players were Joe's age.
An excerpt from Joe's report:
"There were a little more than 100 tubas on stage. They played songs like Jingle Bells, Noel Noel, White Christmas and Joy to the World. Very Christmasy.
Hearing only tubas play together was very unique and cool. Pretty much every single type of tuba ever was there, in different sizes and keys. One tuba was over 100 years old and still sounded good. I also heard every single tuba type ever produced play in the same room at the same time playing the same song, quite an experience.
Things sound different from a recording compared to real life. It’s also an experience you probably won’t ever forget. With a recording you most definitely can forget it because you don’t always pay as much attention. You know you can always play it again. Live performances are completely unique and truly one time only."
If you've seen a Tuba Christmas show, tell us in the COMMENTS below!
If you want to get more up-to-the-minute fascinating community stories about Los Angeles, SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE to the Studio City Community Activism Examiner (CLICK HERE) and click the Subscribe button next to the MIKE SZYMANKI by-line and you will get a confirmation email. You’ll see funny and fascinating news, movie and TV reviews, links to great columnists, celebrity gossip and interesting stories that crop up in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Then, just click on the headlines you find interesting!