Tuba players from across the region are converging on four Iowa cities this weekend for an annual holiday event. For Mason City, it’s the 25th annual “Tuba Christmas Concert” today. Conductor Jeff Kirkpatrick says it’s a chance for people to hear instruments that normally only have the “oom-pah” lines in band and orchestra concerts.

Kirkpatrick says Tuba Christmas is a worldwide happening with a number of similar concerts happening across the country during December as tuba, euphonium, baritone horn and Sousaphone players play Christmas songs. Kirkpatrick says the Mason City event started in 1985 with just a handful of players, but now has grown to fill up the middle of the mall.

After the first event was held, he says they started talking with other band directors throughout the area and the number of people participating rapidly increased. Kirkpatrick says the original TubaChristmas event held in at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City honored an Iowa native. He says Creston native Bill Bell was one of the people who the event honors.

The event was started by Harvey Phillips, who was a professor at Indiana University and a former student of Bell. Kirkpatrick says the event attracts players of all ages. He says the event has had players as young as sixth grade join in the fun, and it’s open to players of any age. The Mason City concert starts at 1 o’clock this afternoon at Southbridge Mall.

Other events are scheduled for today at: 1:30 P.M. at First United Methodist Church in Ames, 2 P.M. at Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids, and at noon at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa. Tuba Christmas concerts are also planned in Des Moines on December 18th at 11 AM at Merle Hay Mall and at 1:30 PM at Calvin Community Center.

Similar tuba concerts were held earlier this month in Estherville and Spencer. Learn more at “www.tubachristmas.com“.

By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City