Tuba Christmas blows into city for 42nd year
180 musicians brave the cold to perform in concert
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.