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The Arts

TubaChristmas returns on Dec. 16

Participating musicians will register at 1 p.m. and begin rehearsing at 1:15 p.m. They are asked to pay a $10 registration fee. Doors will open at 2:30 p.m. for the concert. For more information about TubaChristmas, visit

WEST BRATTLEBORO—Players of the tuba, euphonium, and baritone horn will gather for TubaChristmas — a treasured holiday tradition for many concertgoers — at First Congregational Church at 880 Western Ave. on Sunday, Dec. 16.

The free concert starts at 3 p.m. A good-will offering will be collected and donated to the church.

Since 1974, cities and towns throughout the world have adopted a tradition of bringing together musicians to play arrangements of sacred and secular Christmas carols set for a four-part low-brass choir by Alec Wilder.

TubaChristmas is presented with the permission and cooperation of the Harvey Phillips Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to developing, expanding, and preserving the music arts.

The foundation focuses special attention on musical instruments not ordinarily the object of other support.

The event was conceived by Harvey Phillips, tuba performer and professor at the University of Indiana’s Jacobs School of Music, to honor his mentor, William Bell.

In New England alone, 18 TubaChristmas events will take place this season. It was introduced to Brattleboro in 2008 by Steve Damon, who now hosts one in Bernardston, Mass.

The late Bruce Corwin, conductor emeritus of the Brattleboro American Legion Band, took the reins four years later. Steve Rice, band director at Brattleboro Union High School, has been organizing and leading the Brattleboro TubaChristmas since 2017.

While many TubaChristmas participants claim tuba or euphonium as their primary instrument, others (such as Rice) are primarily players of other instruments who know how to play low-brass instruments.

In honor of the founders of the event, only players of valved low-brass instruments such as the tuba, sousaphone, euphonium, baritone horn (treble or bass clef readers), and helicon may participate — no trombones.

“First-timers often express surprise at the haunting beauty of these instruments,” event organizers write in a news release. “Audience members will be invited to sing along with the carols and are urged to bring sleigh bells to accompany the finale.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #488 (Wednesday, December 5, 2018). This story appeared on page B4.

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