Touting Tuba Talent

100 players gather for 14th annual TubaChristmas



It was standing room only at the 14th annual TubaChristmas.

About 100 tuba and baritone players gathered at the Eastwood Expo Center Saturday to show the community what they can do.

“It’s a great way to promote the instrument, the tuba and the baritone,” said Wes O’Connor, conductor for the event. “It’s a good thing for the Christmas season.”

The youngest player this year is 10, the oldest, 86, said O’Connor.

Many of the musicians perform in the event year after year. Traditionally performed at Eastwood Mall, the concert was moved to the Expo Center this year because it outgrew the mall.

Tuba players are “usually in the back of the band,” O’Connor noted. “It plays the oompa parts, the baseline. Very rarely do tuba players get to play the melody, so it’s another chance for us to shine.”

Wendy Rose and her daughter, Joanna Rose, both play the baritone horn.

This is the fifth year the North Bloomfield pair participated in TubaChristmas.

“We enjoy playing music, and the musical arrangements are very beautiful,”

Wendy said. “And we just enjoy the beautiful Christmas songs.”

It’s nice to participate in the event with her mother, Joanna said.

“It’s kind of become our Christmas tradition to come here every year,” she added.

Many of the instruments were decked out in lights, garland or ribbons as part of a “best decorated” contest. The Roses decorated their baritone horns, and, though neither won this year, said it was fun to participate.

The group played familiar Christmas carols such as “Deck the Halls” and “The First Noel,” with O’Connor stopping occasionally to explain the origins of TubaChristmas and to share details about the instruments.

Karen St. Clair of Niles brought her son Mason, 10, to hear the music.

“He’s starting to play band at school, so we thought we’d come and check it out,” Karen said.

This was the first time they attended TubaChristmas.

Mason has been playing the trumpet since the beginning of the school year. He was excited about TubaChristmas.

“It’s good,” he said.

The event is really nice, Karen said.

“I like to hear the different Christmas carols.”

Sue Coleman, and her daughter, Heather Coleman, attended for the second time.

“I like it,” Sue said. “It’s very festive.”

It’s becoming a tradition for them, Heather said.

The event is unique, she noted.

“And the fact that it’s kept on all these years, that’s nice,” Heather said.

Merry TubaChristmas was created by Harvey Phillips to honor his teacher, William J. Bell. This year, concerts will be presented in more than 250 cities throughout the United States and in several other countries. The first event was in 1974 in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza Ice Rink.

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