NEW BRITAIN - The fourth annual TubaChristmas at Trinity-On-Main Saturday saw a packed room raising voices in chorus as the brass played Christmas favorites.
Tuba players ranging from 10 years old to 81 took the stage wearing Santa hats and adorning their instruments with glowing Christmas lights.
Families waited, passing popcorn back and forth, as children bounced in their seats in anticipation.
“This is just pure fun,” said event organizer Anne Marshall. “I hope you enjoy yourselves listening to this wonderful music.”
Marshall then introduced Melissa Veale, the master of ceremonies, who gave the history of TubaChristmas.
The performance, led by conductor Walter Gibson, continues a tradition begun by Harvey G. Phillips to honor his tuba teacher, William Bell, who was born on Christmas Day 1902.
The first concert was held Dec. 22, 1974, in the ice skating rink in New York City’s Rockefeller Center and Gibson was present. Today, TubaChristmas events are held in more than 300 communities annually.
Mayor Erin Stewart then took the stage to proclaim Tuba Christmas Day and to wish the audience a merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.
For each song, the tubas played the chorus through first, then the audience sang along during the second time around. The exception was “Jingle Bells,” which they sung along to from the start.
Other songs performed were “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Deck the Halls,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “The First Noel,” “Good King Wenceslas,” “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Komm Susser Tod,” “Silent Night,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World,” which was the finale.
Just prior to “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,” New Britain Herald reporter Charles Paullin took the stage dressed as “The Herald Angel,” a role played by Publisher Michael Schroeder in previous years.
“Are you sure you’re a Herald Angel and not a Charlie’s Angel?” joked Veale.
Sting, the New Britain Bees’ mascot, also showed up and handed out vouchers for Bees tickets next year and Gibson led the tuba players in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Interspersed between performances, Veale recognized public officials, the youngest player, the oldest player and the performer who had played at the most TubaChristmas events (25). Also recognized were the performers who traveled the most distance to perform there and the musician with the best decorated instrument – selected by the loudest applause from the audience.
All elementary school, middle school, high school and college students were asked to rise. Adult non-professional players and professional players were then honored.
Veale also recognized music teachers.
“A universe without music would be desolate indeed,” she said.
Military service members and veterans were also asked to stand.
“May God bless each of you,” she said, before calling for a moment of silence for those “not with us this season.”
Just before the closing song, Veale said she hoped the concert would end “on a high note as we reflect on our shared goal of peace and harmony throughout the world.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.