This is the time of year when, hopefully, if you have been very good, you get something you really want. What every tuba secretly wants, I’ve been told, is to carry the melody, something that, sadly, rarely happens. Well, next Saturday the tubas will get their chance when Ron Keller, the director of the Naperville Municipal Band, conducts this year’s Tubachristmas.
And because Christmas is a family holiday, members of the tuba family, like cheerful baritones and sonorous euphoniums, plus the older generations, the hélicons and ophicleides, can also share the day. And should the prodigal horn, the double bell euphonium that Simone Mantia was always trying to get the family to accept, stop by, he will be welcome. From serpents to sousaphones, Tubachristmas is for the entire tuba family and the people who love to play them.
I like to mention Tubachristmas, which is celebrated in hundreds of towns around the world, because things tend to sneak up on us at this time of year, and it’s easy to forget that the tubas will be assembling Saturday, Dec. 7, to play the Christmas arrangements of Alec Wilder at 11 a.m. at U.S. Bank on the northeast corner of Jefferson Avenue and Washington Street. It’s free, and the larger the audience the more fun you will have.
For players, registration will be at 9 a.m. that morning at the Community Concert Center in Central Park, and rehearsal will be at 10 am. Registration costs $10 and music, if you need it, costs $15. Players may need to bring a music stand and perhaps a chair. They may also need gloves and a scarf. It will be sunny but cold, ironically because of arctic warming. A second performance, at 12:30, will be inside the Westfield Shoppingtown Fox Valley mall.
I don’t think Ron Keller had anywhere near as much trouble scheduling the performance as Harvey Phillips did when in 1974 he held the first Tubachristmas on the skating rink at Rockefeller Center in New York City. It was to honor his teacher at Julliard, William Bell, considered by Arturo Toscanini to be the greatest tubist in the world, and 300 of Bell’s former students showed up to play. Bell had been born on Christmas Day.
While you’re down near Central Park, you should also notice the new Naper Lights holiday light display extravaganza presented by Naperville Sunrise Rotary “to bring holiday cheer and festivities to our community during the holiday season.” It will be an annual event that is anticipated to add a couple of new displays every year.
The event has many sponsors, including individuals and several local area businesses. You can find out who these generous businesses are and learn about all the good work Sunrise Rotary does by visiting www.napervillesunrise.org and clicking on the Naper Lights link. Pay special attention to the community services they provide, including the backpack, coat drive, and homeless shelter programs.
Although the lights will be on every evening until 9 p.m., there will be representatives there Thursday through Sunday. When I was there Sunday night, free hot chocolate and cookies were available, they were handing out fliers, and donations were being gratefully accepted.
While I was walking through the park, I thought how great it would be if there could be a night of caroling in Central Park amidst all the pretty lights sometime between now and Christmas. I realize that would be an almost impossible thing to arrange these days because people have become so hyper-sensitive about anything religious. That seems a little silly, considering that the Christmas message of generosity, forgiveness, peace, and hope is exactly the same whether you are a Christian, a Buddhist, a Taoist, a Muslim, or a Sikh.