Three Iowa cities are hosting Tuba Christmas events today, part of a global holiday event that both celebrates the season and puts a spotlight on an often-forgotten instrument. Jeff Kirkpatrick is organizing more than 100 tuba, baritone, euphonium and Sousaphone players in Mason City for the 24th annual North Iowa Tuba Christmas.
Kirkpatrick says they’re among about 200 similar celebrations throughout the United States. Kirkpatrick says Tuba Christmas was originally started by Harvey Phillips, a professor of tuba at Indiana University with the local celebration starting in 1985 with only six players. It’s now an annual international event involving thousands of musicians. Kirkpatrick says people normally wouldn’t think of tubas as the best choice for playing Christmas music.
“The image of tuba players is the large instrument that sits in the back of the band and just goes ‘boop, boop, boop,’ but we want to dispell that myth that tubas can’t play beautiful music, because they can,” Kirkpatrick says. “Tubas produce gorgeous tone, wonderful sounds.” He says tubas are basically the Rodney Dangerfield of instruments that get no respect.
He says what Tuba Christmas does is promote that low brass instruments can produce wonderfully rich sounds that can’t be created any other way. The performance takes place at 1 P.M. in Southbridge Mall’s center court in Mason City. Another Tuba Christmas will get underway at 2 P.M. at Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids and also at noon at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa.
Tuba Christmas events were held earlier this month in several other Iowa cities, including: Des Moines, Estherville, Sioux City and Spencer. For more information, visit: “www.tubachristmas.com“.
By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City