On Sunday afternoon, between brunch with friends and the Steelers-Jets game, I went to Rockefeller Center for Tuba Christmas, an annual concert of Christmas carols performed by several hundred tubas and euphoniums (euphonia?). When I arrived at Rock Center at 3:15 PM, the crowd there to see the tree was already so large that I settled for a spot on 49th St. instead of in the plaza itself. I had a partially obscured view of the stage set up at one end of the ice rink, with a tree and giant toy soldier in my line of sight. But I was able to see row after row of Sousaphones file onto the stage, followed by many tubas and finally at least a hundred euphoniums on the ice rink itself. According to the emcee, who I could barely hear because of the speaker placement, the group had performers from as far away as Los Angeles and Germany, and ranged in ages from 10 to 80. They played for about 30-35 minutes, during which we heard many traditional carols and a few more classical pieces. My father had attended a Tuba Christmas at the Kennedy Center several years ago, and he told me at the time that it was the strangest thing to hear all those low instruments together. In most of the carol arrangements, the euphoniums played the melody while the tubas and Sousaphones harmonized. But I had to smile every time the tubas got the melody. I've never heard anything quite like all those tubas playing the melody of "Jingle Bells," just to cite one example. Despite the crush of the crowd and an icy wind in my face, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am already looking forward to next year's concert.
I'm also preparing to announce my plans for "Viola Arbor Day."