NEW BRITAIN – The seventh annual New Britain TubaChristmas returned to Trinity-on-Main Saturday afternoon with over 20 musicians performing and 210 individuals coming to listen to holiday favorites.
“This is our seventh year but our sixth performance because we couldn’t perform because of covid and we are excited to be back,” said Cynthia Carlson, event marketing coordinator. “This is the 48th season for TubaChristmas worldwide and it's an international phenomena.”
Event organizer Leona Clerkin said she loved seeing the enthusiasm in those performing along with the oftentimes decorated instruments taking stage. At one point, Central CT Communications Publisher Mike Schroeder joined those on stage dressed as an angel in a white suit in what has become somewhat of a tradition with the event.
Walter Gibson, event conductor and the New Britain Symphony Orchestra tuba principal is noted for being at the first TubaChristmas that took place in 1974 in New York City at the Rockefeller Center. He turned often during the performance to encourage the audience to sing along with well-known Christmas classics.
“I’ve been volunteering for the TubaChristmas since it started (in New Britain),” said Sharon Straka. “We’re very happy to have it in New Britain. They usually have some fun little costumes on and it’s a great little event.”
Colleague volunteer Sue Venberg said she and Straka volunteer for many area events but the TubaChristmas was an especially enjoyable one.
The event was brought to New Britain by founder Anne Marshall, an area attorney, who wanted to share it with the community.
Area attorney Douglas Ovian served as the event’s master of ceremonies. A proclamation from the city recognizing Dec. 18 as TubaChristmas Day was read by Alderwoman Desiree Costa.
Small awards were given out to the various performers. One such award was given to Luisa Young for driving from Stratford to perform. The youngest performer at the event recognized was Luke Fongemie, 12, and the oldest was Bruce Tubby, 84. Cassidy of Berlin Public Schools was awarded the best decorated instrument. No last name was given for her during the event. Berlin Public Schools had the most students play in the event so the district will receive a small cash award to be utilized for its low brass musical program. Marshall and Clerkin were recognized for their leadership of the event.
Performer Art Hovey also performed at the first TubaChristmas in New York as a second generation tubist. The New Britain show was his 40th TubaChristmas performance. Christopher Rickard celebrated his 35th TubaChristmas performance and Briant Marsh celebrated his 30th.
The first TubaChristmas was put on by Harvey Phillips to honor his tuba teacher William Bell. Over 300 musicians played on the ice rink outside Rockefeller Center as part of the event. The tradition has since been practiced across the country as a means of celebrating tuba, euphonium and low brass musical education.