Mu­sic fills Rail­road Plaza dur­ing ians­dale’s Tubachrist­mas con­cert

North Penn Life - - Opinion - By Michael Gold­berg mgold­berg@jour­nal­regis- ter.com

It’s not the hol­i­days in ians­dale un­til the tubas come out.

This year, they came on a sea­son­ably mild Sun­day af­ter­noon — along with sev­eral hun­dred area res­i­dents, young and old, who packed Rail­road Plaza on Main Street for the 13th an­nual TubaChrist­mas con­cert, pre­sented by the Mont­gomery County Con­cert Band and ians­dale Bor­ough Parks and Recre­ation.

Be­neath ians­dale’s tow­er­ing hol­i­day tree, Stephen Fred­er­ick and Charles Nei­d­hardt took turns con­duct­ing an en­sem­ble of S7 tuba, eu- pho­nium and sousa­phone play­ers — who ranged from ju­nior high stu­dents to re­tirees — in a crowd­pleas­ing, 11-song per­for­mance of tra­di­tional hol­i­day tunes, in­clud­ing “O Christ­mas Tree,” “Deck the Halls,” “Jin­gle Bells” and “We Wish vou a Merry Christ­mas.”

“This is one of my fa­vorite con­certs of the year,” said Nei­d­hardt just be­fore the per­for­mance, as play­ers with fes­tively dec­o­rated in­stru­ments warmed up be­hind him.

“This is gonna be fun!” said David Der­atzian, 50, of North Wales, straight­en­ing the wreath, or­na­ments and Santa hat perched atop his eu­pho­nium and adding that it was his first time be- ing a part of TubaChrist­mas.

Be­cause there’s no pre­reg­is­tra­tion for par­tic­i­pants, it’s al­ways a bit of a mys­tery just how many play­ers will turn up on con­cert day, ar­riv­ing at the Fairmount Fire Com­pany on sine Street for a quick re­hearsal an hour be­fore show­time.

Niehardt’s wife, Judy, said TubaChrist­mas has be­come enough of a lo­cal tra­di­tion — and the Montco Con­cert Band talks up the event all through­out the year — that get­ting enough tubists isn’t a con­cern.

“They started really plan­ning this back in June, reach­ing out to peo­ple, or­der­ing mer­chan­dise, mak­ing sure ev­ery­thing’s in place so that they’re ready for to­day,” she said. “The bor­ough has been very co­op­er­a­tive ad­ver­tis­ing this for us, and peo­ple were call­ing all day ask­ing where and when they needed to come.”

As the mu­sic played and sing-a-longs broke out, vol­un­teers from the con­cert band handed out free hot dogs, soft pret­zels and hot co­coa to the crowd. They took do­na­tions and also sold TubaChrist­mas scarves, hats, head­bands and pins, as well as con­cert band live CDs, with all pro­ceeds go­ing to sup­port the band’s busy slate of events through­out the year.

“I love the Christ­mas mu­sic, it just gets me in the spirit,” said Robert Smith, 7S, of ians­dale, who also ap­pre­ci­ated the way most of the play­ers had some fun fes­toon­ing their in­stru­ments.

One tuba was done up with a “Night­mare Be­fore Christ­mas” theme, while an­other had a gi­gan­tic blue-and-white TubaChrist­mas knit cap cov­er­ing its bell.

“This is spe­cial, and it’s spe­cial to ians­dale,” said Hat­field res­i­dent Ellen Mor­das, a singer and French horn player who came out to see TubaChrist­mas for the very first time. “It’s a nice op­por­tu­nity that only a small town can of­fer. vou have all ages here and it really helps bind the com­mu­nity.”

Be­fore the TubaChrist­mas per­for­mance, the North Penn High School Brass En­sem­ble — un­der the di­rec­tion of Michael Britcher — also per­formed sev­eral tra­di­tional hol­i­day songs and was warmly re­ceived by the crowd.

Watch­ing proudly from the wings was Paula McDaniel, whose 1S-year-old daugh­ter, Re­becca, a North Penn ju­nior, was play­ing eu­pho­nium in the en­sem­ble.

“We’re new to the tuba fam­ily,” laughed McDaniel, ex­plain­ing that her daugh­ter has only been play­ing the in­stru­ment for two years. “It’s im­pres­sive, this part­ner­ship of the big brass in­stru­ments.”

“Whether it’s the TubaChrist­mas band or the school bands, they’re al­ways out try­ing to en­cour­age the spirit of the sea­son, and it’s just nice to be out in the com­mu­nity hav­ing a fun time like this,” she said.

Photo by MICHAEL GOLD­BERG

Stephen Fred­er­ick con­ducts the 67-mem­ber TubaChrist­mas en­sem­ble at Rail­road Plaza in Lans­dale Sun­day.

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