July 16th, 2024

TubaChristmas ready for a brassy take on the holiday season


By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 14, 2022.

Photo submitted - Tuba players will be ready to decorate their instruments with festive lights, tinsel, and ribbons giving audiences a holiday delight as they take in the festivities of TubaChristmas Dec. 17 at Southminster United Church.

The Lethbridge Community Band Society is gearing up for its 10th annual TubaChristmas this Saturday at Southminster United Church.

Tuba, baritone, sousaphone, and euphonium enthusiasts of all levels will come together to bring holiday cheer to those looking for a break during holiday shopping from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“TubaChristmas is an international organization founded by Harvey Phillips. He was a renowned professional tuba player in the ’70’s and ’80’s,” said Rene van de Vendel, president of the Band Society and TubaChristmas coordinator. “Nationwide, and internationally, cities like ours put on a TubaChristmas event that is connected to the Harvey Phillips foundation. We organize the events independently every year.”

Concerts will be presented in over 250 cities worldwide, three of which are in Canada, including Victoria, Kelowna, and Lethbridge.

Bringing players of all ages and talents together, the event also helps encourage growing together, and creating a network for appreciation.

“The great thing about TubaChristmas is that musical ability or age doesn’t have anything to do with the event,” said van de Vendel. “We have young kids playing their instruments beside professional players at the same conference. I don’t know of any other musical group where that is a possibility. Most groups are selected based on their ability or age, or both.”

Hoping to give every player a chance to shine, the Band Society will also host a special component for those playing this year.

“We have added an additional dimension to the whole thing. Tuesday and Wednesday night we are putting together an educational component separate from the actual event. Doing a bit of additional education on the instruments,” said van de Vendel. “Because that is one of our mandates, to educate people in bank, rock band, repertoire.”

Thanks to a grant from the City of Lethbridge, the concert is free to the public for all to enjoy.

“We are very grateful for it because that means we don’t have to charge our players either. Not only is the concert free to the audience, it is also free for players thanks to the grant,” said van de Vendel. “The community band puts on many concerts over the year, we have three different bands. TubaChristmas is a Christmas gift back to the community. Anybody can just pop in. We are simply saying, ‘hey on your busy Saturday afternoon when you are running around shopping for Christmas, take a breather and sit down and listen to something really unique and positive’, our Christmas gift to the community.”

Giving shoppers a break from holiday spending to spend some time enjoying festive tunes, TubaChristmas will help warm the cockles of everyone’s heart.

“The biggest tickle I get out of this every year is the look on the faces of some of these younger players. Some of them have no clue what is going on around them, and once they hear these instruments play, watching all these instruments decorated in Christmas lights start blinking up, these kids are just so mesmerized and it is good to see that, seeing that excitement from the players themselves is just so good to see,” said van de Vendel.

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