The Christmas concert where tuba players don’t take a back seat

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to our “NewsHour” Shares, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

Every December, hundreds of tuba and euphonium players gather in cities around the world to perform holiday tunes.

We recently spoke with Chris Quade, one of the organizers of TubaChristmas at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center, about what makes the events so special.

CHRIS QUADE, TubaChristmas: My name is Chris Quade. I’m one of the coordinators of TubaChristmas. I’m also the emcee.

The original TubaChristmas was in New York City, and that was 1973. In 1974, they started D.C. TubaChristmas.

People thought of the tuba as a back-row instrument, shouldn’t play too soft, because it can’t, shouldn’t play too fast, because it can’t. To me, TubaChristmas represents breaking out of the tuba stereotype.

It’s been the same music for 43 years. The arrangements work. They are interesting enough to hold the attention of the players. They are simple enough to put together in one rehearsal. They lay in a good range, and they have the right amount of fast and slow.

I think the magic of those arrangements is really what makes this work. It’s great because it is timeless. We can’t play top 40. We’d have to change the book every year. And it’s tubas. Top 40 doesn’t really work.

It’s a kind part concert, part educational experience, part reunion. I think every year, I imagine, come on, they are going to traipse in from miles and miles away into the city and come up just to do this? It’s a pain, right?

And they come all the time. And there are so many young players. That’s the thing that gets me every year. They’re excited by it. This is fun. If you have children come here, and they have got a book of music in front of them, and everyone is very somber, they are going to be much more nervous about what they are doing.

If you have lights on this tuba, and garland on this tuba, and this guy’s got reindeer antlers, it creates an atmosphere where you are just trying to have fun.

TubaChristmas, 300 tuba players, and it’s a beautiful sound.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Tubas at Christmas, Bruce Springsteen. You have got to love tonight’s show.

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