TubaChristmas arrived in Ann Arbor in 1998, thanks to the efforts of a small group that included George Thompson and Mike Grant, who continue to organize the event and lead the concerts. The performance is held at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market on the Sunday afternoon following Midnight Madness--December 8 this year.
Usually thirty to forty tuba and euphonium players converge for the event. They meet Sunday morning, rehearse for two hours, and break for lunch, and the concert begins at 2 p.m. Players include students, amateurs, and professionals and range in age from junior high to retirees. The organizers make sure that younger players are paired with veteran participants.
People who expect that a large group of tubas could only produce a loud, murky rumbling are in for a surprise. In spite of their low range, tubas have a wonderfully clear but mellow sound and can get around with surprising agility. Tubas and euphoniums--instruments in the same family of brass but that play in a higher register--create an ensemble that's lyrical, majestic, nuanced, and warmly enveloping. There's no sound quite like it.