December 10, 2012

A Very Tuba Christmas

The sounds of Christmas music rang out from U.S. Bank and through downtown Naperville as nearly 80 tuba and euphonia players performed a holiday concert called Tuba Christmas.

For the past 30 years, fellow tuba players ages twelve to 65 come from near and far to Naperville for the event. Many are strangers to one another, but they join together, forming a band for one day.

Musician Ron McCarty traveled from Kentucky for the event. “Last time I was here and played one of these, there was maybe a couple dozen people here in front of the bank, so it’s grown quite a bit,” he said.

Sixth grader, Samantha Mitchell, is one of the youngest players. “I really like music, and I think it’s really fun,” said Mitchell.

Many of the performers make the nationwide event a yearly holiday tradition. This is John Cofer’s ninth Tuba Christmas performance. “It’s fun, and I’d like to encourage young people to come out and play,” Cofer said.

Eve Hushek of Naperville came out to hear the band play. “The performers do such a wonderful job of bringing Christmas spirit to Naperville,” she said.

For decades now, Naperville Municipal Band director, Ron Keller, has invited players to come out and help spread holiday cheer.

Tuba Christmas was brought to Naperville by band professor Harvey Phillips who held the first one in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza in 1974.
“When Harvey came to Naperville in 1978, to play with our Municipal Band, he said, to me, you need to be doing this, and so ever since then, I’ve been doing Tuba Christmas, and it’s grown and gotten bigger every year,” reminisced Keller.

After playing downtown, the band headed across town to Westfield Fox Valley Mall, giving holiday shoppers a surprise concert.

“I heard it from Penny’s and I came right down, I love it,” said Joe Didier of Sugar Grove.

Local resident Greg Kontos plays tuba in the marching band at Plainfield High School. He comes out every year to listen in. “I think it’s cool to see all these tubas together, and the people they don’t even know each other and they’re just playing Christmas music together,” he said.

Of the 261 nationwide Tuba Christmas concerts, there are seven in Illinois.


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