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Nothing Says Christmas Like 130 Tubas
By Tom Adkinson

TubaChristmas isn’t America’s oldest holiday tradition, but it may be the oddest. People with big brass instruments – often more than 100 at a time – converge to toot out deliriously delightful renditions of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” and solemn versions of “Silent Night.”

christmas tuba
Christmas tubas. Image by Tom Adkinson.

Spectators sing along, making the casual concerts seem like “Mitch Miller Meets John Philip Sousa.” The concerts are both impromptu and organized. Tuba players monitor a TubaChristmas website and just show up the day of a concert. A one-show conductor somehow makes it work. It all began in New York in 1974 as a tribute to a William Bell, born on Christmas Day 1902 and acknowledged as America’s premier tuba player and teacher of the 20th Century. He played for John Philip Sousa and Toscanini. A check of 2017 concert dates shows three in Kentucky, eight in Tennessee, 10 in New York and 24 in Texas. There even are concerts in thinly populated Idaho and Wyoming. Knoxville’s TubaChristmas is Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. at Market Square.

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Published November 30, 2017

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