A tuba tradition

12/16/2013

Musicians belt out their own renditions of Christmas favorites.

Musicians belt out their own renditions of Christmas favorites.

By KELTON BROOKS

kbrooks@gctelegram.com

While most people enjoy the Christmas melodies of "Deck The Halls," "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Santa Baby," others downtown were treated to the brass and deep bellows of "Rudolph the Red Nose Tuba," "Rocking Around the Tuba Tree" and "Oh Silent Tuba," as many attended the Ninth Annual Tuba Christmas Concert in Garden City.

"It's downtown, it's outside, and it's a chance for people to come out and get together around Christmas time," said James McAllister, director of instrumental music at Garden City Community College and the director of Tuba Christmas.

Friends and family gathered along Grant Avenue to watch the 40th anniversary of Tuba Christmas around the world, wrapped in blankets and wearing thick layers as they prepared to watch the brass concert on the sunny but chilly Saturday afternoon.

But one attendant at the concert said she has never missed a concert regardless of how low the temperature.

"We come every year. It's a family tradition," said Lana Nevin, who was sitting on the front row with her family, holding two cups of hot chocolate served by Commerce Bank. "It's warm today compared to a couple years ago, but we still come out even when it's freezing."

Before the concert began, the area's tuba and euphonium players were unloading their instruments in the open lot next to Kep's Menswear. Some of the players are band members at their respective schools, some have been playing the tuba for years and some were band directors and first-time performers at the concert.

"The only time I get the tuba out is for this," Shawn Martin, band teacher in Lakin, said with a laugh. "I can play just enough tuba to be dangerous. I'm really a saxophone player."

As Martin looked around to see the crowd of people sitting on the row of benches, he said he wasn't surprised about the large group.

"Garden City has always had a really good crowd for any kind of arts related event that's gone on that I've been too. It's a lot of fun," he said.

The final tune played was a crowd favorite, "Merry Tuba Christmas." Immediately after the concert, gift certificates were handed out to the most decorated tuba, Mike Willing, who had the only decorated tuba, and Gary Miller, who flew in from Colorado.

And members of the Steps Dance School also performed after the tuba concert.

"The tubas itself is a unique kind of Christmas," McAllister said.

"It's not like carolers or string quartets. It's simply unique in itself."

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