Tuba Christ­mas blows into city for 42nd year

180 mu­si­cians brave the cold to per­form in con­cert

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Tom McGhee

Hun­dreds of peo­ple braved the cold Sun­day to cheer on a flock of brass play­ers as Den­ver cel­e­brated its 42nd an­nual Tuba Christ­mas.

“You can tell all your friends you at­tended a heavy metal con­cert,” Bill Clark, Tuba Christ­mas con­duc­tor, told the crowd.

The event is held an­nu­ally in cities through­out the United States, Clark, a re­tired pro­fes­sor of mu­sic at the Univer­sity of Colorado Den­ver and the di­rec­tor of the Queen City Jazz Band, said. “No city can call it­self a ma­jor city if they don’t have a Tuba Christ­mas.”

One-hun­dred eighty mu­si­cians, some from as far away as Baltimore, played an hour of Christ­mas car­ols at the event in Sky­line Park.

Jeanie Schroder — who sings and plays sousa­phone, dou­ble bass and flute with the ensem­ble DeVotchKa — joined Clark as a co-con­duc­tor.

The first Den­ver Tuba Christ­mas was held in nearby Larimer Square, and only 20 mu­si­cians played, Clark said.

“This is such a neat tra­di­tion,” said Jim Hardee, 50, who at­tended to cheer on son Aaron, 15, a sopho­more at Broom­field’s Legacy High School.

The tubas were joined by other brass in­stru­ments, in­clud­ing the sousa­phone, eu­pho­nium and even a valve trom­bone.

It was the 27th year that Walt Blanken­ship, 50, has played in Tuba Christ­mas. The tuba rarely takes the spot­light in mu­sic, he said.

“This is the one time a year when tubas get recog­ni­tion,” he said. “It’s a blast.”

The play­ers ranged from 9 years old to past 75.

Thomas Neal, 15, played at the event with his fel­low Dou­glas County High School stu­dent Jake Fifer, 17. “I re­ally like Christ­mas, and I think the best way to cel­e­brate is the mu­sic,” said Thomas, 15, a fresh­man.

Ron­ald the toy pen­guin sits atop the tuba of Den­ver mu­si­cian Zachary Beren­baum, 14, while he per­forms in Den­ver’s 42nd an­nual Tuba Christ­mas con­cert Sun­day at Sky­line Park. Or­ga­niz­ers es­ti­mated the con­cert in­cluded 180 mu­si­cians play­ing a col­lec­tion of tubas, sousa­phones, bari­tones, eu­pho­ni­ums and other low brass in­stru­ments. Pho­tos by Andy Col­well, Spe­cial The Den­ver Post

Mu­si­cian Hugh Pote holds up his bari­tone as he shouts his age – 89 years young – when in­tro­duced as the old­est mu­si­cian per­form­ing in the Tuba Christ­mas con­cert at Sky­line Park.

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