Anyone else do Tuba Christmas?

This weekend I went to my 11th installment of Tuba Christmas (5 as an audience member, 6 as a player).

It’s a national event - anyone else participate?

Basically the deal is that in 1974 this guy wanted to celebrate the memory of William Bell (a music teacher) who was born on Christmas and loved Christmas music. The “inventor” of Tuba Christmas had someone arrange a book of Christmas music with parts for Tuba and Euphonium. They first played in Rockafeller Center in 1974.

The one I attend, in Akron, is one of the largest. We get between 300 and 500 alto horns, baritones, euphoniums, tubas and sousaphones playing each year. We play at the Akron Civic Theater, a cool old rennovated theater in downtown Akron. I think there’s about 2000 audience members for each of the 2 shows we do.

So the players all sit on stage (crammed up there) and we play a song from the book through once then the audience sings along the second time through. Most of the players decorate their horns - some of them even plug themselves in for lights! Some songs we just play and there’s no singing.

It’s a really cool event. Everyone I’ve ever talked to that has gone to Tuba Christmas really loves it. I’m a trombone player but every year I go and play baritone with my trumpet-playing best friend. Ages of the players range from 8 to 81 (really!)

Here’s a link to the official site. There may still be some scheduled around the country yet this year. If not - bookmark it for next year!

But - any fellow dopers play in their local Tuba Christmas? Anyone go every year as an audience member? There’s got to be a few!

Wow, that takes me back! The last time I did it was about 12 years ago, and I’m pretty sure it was at the Dorothy Chandler in Los Angeles. I would do it again, but I haven’t played in years, and I don’t have a baritone or euphonium to play anymore. I played french horn, so I always just borrowed the school’s instrument. I would love to attend again, but unfortunately, the local one at Disneyland is going to be at 2pm on a Thursday and I will be working. Darn!

Well, I didn’t go. But I was walking around downtown last weekend and happened to pass the local performance. It was enjoyable for the minute or two I could hear them.

Well, TubaDiva, obviously.

My husband did it a couple of times when it occured during the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic at the Hilton & Towers in Chicago. I watched! I don’t think a flute player would be welcome. :smack: But one time, at band camp…nah, just kidding. I’ve never been to band camp.

I played in the Akron TubaChristmas from '86 to '89 (8th-11th grade). I attended in '85 and '90; I planned to play that year but I had mono and my doctor said if I played my horn my spleen could explode. :eek: I also played in the Syracuse TubaChristmas in '92. Boy, that was a change – Akron had hundreds of horns on the Civic stage (and in the pit, and in the first several rows of the theatre) and thousands of audience members in the aforementioned two shows ('88 or '89 was the first time they added the second show, IIRC). Syracuse was maybe 25 pieces, sitting in an open area of the mall and with no regular audience other than mall patrons who walked by.

Most of the Akron years the rest of my high school tuba section played too (although I was the first who did it in '86). In '89, we even used the TubaChristmas music to do our own numbers during band concerts (six tubas and two baritones, IIRC). Our signature piece was a mashup my friend Howard arranged of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen over Ozzy Osourne’s Crazy Train.

Alas, I have no horn of my own these days.

Zipper, is Tucker Jolley still running the thing?


Yep. One of my friends (aka Barry Tonelli) plays baritone and weve gone for about six years in a row now to see this at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland.

Cliffy - Yeah Tucker Jolly still runs it :slight_smile: Although he doesn’t play anymore. When I started going in 1992 he played the “Jingle Bells” intro but I think he has some sort of health problems that keeps him from playing (sucky suck suck for a brass professor :frowning: )

I didn’t realize until this year that Akron was one of the largest! I am glad to be a part of it :slight_smile: 300 tubas is really a thing to behold.

If you come next year, you can find me and Tom front row, right, with the ugly baritones.

Godfrey - is it outdoors?? BRRRR!!!

I will try to remind my fellow dopers next year about attending their local event.

Never heard of it before. I have, however, heard of A Tuna Christmas

You must be my neighbor! :waves hi to Godfrey Daniels:

But I don’t play an instrument, and I’ve never been. And yes, ZipperJJ it’s outdoors. Which usually means wet, but this year was freezin’-ass cold (but dry).

Damn. I was thinking that, too.