Christmas is a time for music, especially carols and when tubas and other low brass instruments come together to celebrate that tradition it can be very special.
The annual TubaChristmas event is probably the most special celebration of its kind. First staged at the Rockefeller Center in New York in 1974, TubaChristmas was the brainchild of Harvey G. Phillips, a tuba player. His idea was twofold – to celebrate the instruments that comprise the tuba family and to honour his tuba teacher William Bell, one of the world’s most respected tuba players and teachers. Bell’s birthday was Christmas Day 1902 so a Christmas time celebration seemed entirely appropriate.
This year’s TubaChristmas celebration comprised no less than 295 individual concerts of different scale and size, staged in different locations around the world. These included New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Kansas, Cleveland and many more in the United States as well as cities in Canada, Costa Rica and Switzerland.
If you read the TubaChristmas Wikipedia page, it lists the range of instruments usually played at the concerts as tuba, sousaphone, baritone, euphonium, helicon, ophicleide, serpent and double bell euphonium. There’s no mention of the Wagner Tuba! Some might argue this point but if, as the Wiki page suggests, any conical bore instrument is allowed to participate in TubaChristmas, then it should be listed, especially given the fact that a Wagner Tuba has been played in at least one of the recent TubaChristmas concerts that we know of. Perhaps a good Wiki contributor will ensure the page gets this small amendment soon 🙂
Wagner Tuba Inclusion
One of the largest of the 2015 TubaChristmas concerts featured a Wagner Tuba – the concert at Hall of Liberty, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles where some 200 players were involved.
A writer for the LA Times describing the event in advance to help promotion wrote:
“… it will be difficult to find two horns that will look alike. The giant ensemble will include the towering sousaphones, and the shoulder-carried marching tuba … laptop concert tubas, including B-flat, E-flat and F-flat versions … and will feature a seldom-seen Wagner tuba.”
The Wagner Tuba made a similar appearance, again for charity, at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral on 7 December 2015. Called Tuba Carols, the concert was performed by players of all types of tuba. Conductor David Powell’s invitation to players was: “So if you fancy having a blow on your cimbasso, helicon, ophicleide, serpent, sousaphone or even Wagner tuba you’ll be very welcome too!”
Let us hope the TubaChristmas 2016 events will see an increasing number of Wagner Tuba players taking their instruments along to participate. If you are one of them, let us know and we’ll be pleased to help promote your particular event.