Music fills Railroad Plaza during iansdale’s Tubachristmas concert
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.
Stephen Frederick conducts the 67-member TubaChristmas ensemble at Railroad Plaza in Lansdale Sunday.