Totally tuba tradition


Bass instruments front and center for annual concert.

Bass instruments front and center for annual concert.


Too often in bands and orchestras, the brass instruments that carry the basslines are overshadowed by the higher instruments that often carry the melodies.

Even more, the bass instruments usually sit toward the back of ensembles.

But not on Saturday afternoon in downtown Garden City.

Tubas and euphoniums were the highlight of the annual Tuba Christmas.

James McAllister, director of instrumental music at Garden City Community College and the director of Tuba Christmas, said the event showcases those instruments.

"These instruments are the unsung heroes of bands and orchestras," he said.

Amy Sato, mother of baritone player Corey Sato, 13, said the same thing.

"You don't often hear the tubas or baritones too often, or you can't pick them out. Here, it's fun to see all of the talented people who can play those instruments," she said.

Corey had quite the fan club Saturday.

The 13-year-old Holcomb middle-schooler joined 23 other musicians Saturday afternoon on Grant Avenue for the annual Tuba Christmas concert.

Sato was joined by his mother and brothers, Cameron, 11, and Cayden, 8, and his sister, Claire, 3, who watched from the crowd.

Sato enjoyed playing in the Tuba Christmas concert.

"I really like it. It was fun," Corey said.

His favorite carol was Jingle Bells.

"I think it just sounded better than the others," he said.

Corey has been playing the baritone for three years. This was his first year playing in the Tuba Christmas concert. He received an invitation through school.

Amy Sato said the event is fun for the family.

"It gets you in the spirit of Christmas," she said.

Tuba players registered to play at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by a rehearsal and lunch, then the performance at 3 p.m.

Many decorated their tubas with tinsel, garlands, Santa hats and other holiday décor.

"We have a lot of fun with this every year," McAllister said.

The concert was free to the public, and tuba players had to pay $5 to participate, to help cover related expenses for the event.

Commerce Bank sponsors the event.

Tuba Christmas is affiliated with the nationwide Tuba Christmas series that dates back nearly 40 years.

The concert is one in a series of 183 performances in communities throughout the nation this year, as well as a number of other countries.¬ In addition to Garden City, there are Kansas Tuba Christmas concerts planned in Hiawatha, Iola and Wichita, according to a release from GCCC.

The event was created in 1974 by the late William J. Bell, an artist and teacher, and staged at New York's Rockefeller Plaza ice rink by conductor Paul Lavelle.

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