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Tuba Christmas: a community tribute

Grammy-nominated Dr. Jeremy Fox and Wade Sick to host a ‘Tuba Christmas’ concert in memory of Creston native

Don Duskin, decked out in his holiday best, and Southwestern Community College music instructor Wade Sick practice Christmas music in preparation of a community concert, Tuba Christmas, to be held 4:30 p.m. Sunday in room 180 at Southwestern Community College. The 1915 York & Sons double E flat tuba played by Sick was donated by Jim Flowers of Creston to the Union County Historical Society.
Don Duskin, decked out in his holiday best, and Southwestern Community College music instructor Wade Sick practice Christmas music in preparation of a community concert, Tuba Christmas, to be held 4:30 p.m. Sunday in room 180 at Southwestern Community College. The 1915 York & Sons double E flat tuba played by Sick was donated by Jim Flowers of Creston to the Union County Historical Society.

In conjunction with, “There’s No Place Like Creston for the Holidays,” Southwestern Community College music instructors Dr. Jeremy Fox and Wade Sick are partnering with musicians from southwest and central Iowa to present “Tuba Christmas.”

Tuba Christmas is a collective of tuba, baritone and euphonium players who gather to perform holiday music in memory of the late William Bell, a world-renowned tubist, who was born Dec. 25, 1902, in Creston. The idea was conceived in 1974 by Harvey Phillips as a tribute to Bell, his late teacher and mentor.

Musicians who are interested in participating in the community concert 4:30 p.m. Sunday in room 180 at Southwestern Community College are asked to attend the “cattle call” rehearsal, with registration at 1:30 p.m.

Tuba Christmas in Creston

The idea to host the event in Creston developed after Don Duskin, of Creston, attended his first Tuba Christmas event in Portland, Oregon, more than 25 years ago. Upon his return to Iowa, where he plays with the Iowa State Alumni Marching Band, Duskin started performing with fellow tuba, euphonium and baritone players at Merle Hay Plaza in Des Moines.

“We decided that, since Bill Bell was born here in Creston, we should have a concert in Creston,” said Duskin.

Duskin said Creston’s first Tuba Christmas was performed in 2004 and was held for four consecutive years.

“We had a pretty good turnout the first year,” said Duskin.

This year, Sick decided it was time to bring the event back to Creston and drew a circle on a map, encompassing a 100-mile radius around the city, from which he reached out to every band director from area schools to invite them and their students to participate.

“It’s just whoever wants to come,” said Duskin. “In Ames, Tuba Christmas concerts have grown. We have two of them there now ... We have several sixth-graders that play. Not baritone, tuba. So, that’s a pretty big mouth piece for little kids, but they did wonderful.”

Tuba Christmas past

“There are a number of Tuba Christmas concerts throughout Iowa, throughout the nation, and literally throughout the world,” said Sick.

The first Tuba Christmas was conducted by Paul Lavalle in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza Ice Rink on December 22, 1974. The music for that event was arranged by American composer Alec Wilder, who ironically died on Christmas Eve 1980.

Like its original concert, attendees to SWCC’s Sunday concert can expect to hear a repertoire of traditional Christmas music performed, such as “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” “Deck the Halls” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.”

Sick, who plays the tenor saxophone, said he enjoys the event and the opportunity to play a different instrument.

“The first couple years I played ... it was just fun. We got to know some people, because people come from all over,” said Sick. “It just becomes a community all in its own.”

Sick enjoys the response from the crowd as well.

“You can see all the folks in the crowd just feeling and enjoying it,” he said. “I’s just a very unique event. There’s nothing else like it.”

Concert

Tuba Christmas will be performed 4:30 p.m. Sunday in room 180 at Southwestern Community College, 1501 W. Townline St. Registration for musicians is $10 and attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable canned goods to be donated to local food pantries.

For more information about Tuba Christmas, visit tubachristmas.com or search Tuba Christmas Creston on Facebook for local information.

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