TubaChristmas to be celebrated in West B

WEST BRATTLEBORO — A Brattleboro tradition that combines Christmas music with heavy metal is returning to the First Congregational Church in West Brattleboro on Sunday, Dec. 17.

TubaChristmas will bring together tuba, euphonium, and baritone horn players from throughout the region to play carols specially arranged for a choir of low brass (sorry - no trombones allowed).

This year's event is dedicated to the memory of one of its original organizers and participants, Bruce Corwin, who died Oct. 30. Corwin was a retired music educator and former director of the Brattleboro American Legion Band as well as the Grafton Cornet Band.

Those interested in playing in the concert should gather at the church at 1 p.m. for a rehearsal. They should bring a music stand and dress festively. The concert/sing-along begins at 3 p.m. No admission is charged for the concert but a free-will offering will be taken for the church. According to a news release, particpants should “Bring your own sleigh bells!”

While this event has happened for about 10 years in Brattleboro, 2017 is the 44th anniversary for TubaChristmas concerts/events.

Created by Indiana University tuba professor, Harvey Phillips, TubaChristmas concerts will be presented in more than 300 cities throughout the U.S. and in several other countries.

Phillips was inspired to create TubaChristmas as an annual event honoring his mentor/teacher, the late great tubist William J. Bell, who was born on Christmas Day, in 1902. Every Christmas season, tuba and euphonium players of all ages, from specific geographic areas, gather to pay respect - through William J. Bell - to all the great artists/teachers who represent their heritage.

The first event was held on the rink at Rockefeller Center In New York City in 1974. Every TubaChristmas performance features traditional carols arranged by American composer Alec Wilder.

While some events draw hundreds of players, the one in Brattleboro tends to feature 10-15 musicians, some of whom claim the tuba or euphonium as their principal instrument and others who lovingly play it as a secondary instrument.

Such is the case with organizer and director, Steve Rice. Rice is primarily a percussionist, but his decades of brass instruction at Brattleboro Union High School have enabled him to play both the tuba and euphonium and he relishes the opportunity to perform in and lead this event each year.

Brattleboro's TubaChristmas has become an important holiday tradition for many in the area who are drawn to the warm, rich, organ-like sound of the tuba-euphonium choir. Audience members are urged to sing along with the instrumentalists.

For more information, call 802-451-3511.

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