Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, pastored by Monsignor Mike Wilson, hosted the annual performance of A TubaChristmas on Sunday evening on Solomon’s Island.
A worldwide Christmas tradition, TubaChristmas originated on Decmeber 22, 1974 and was at the famous ice skating rink at New York City’s Rockefeller Center. It’s a celebration of musicians who play, teach and compose music for instruments in the tuba family.
“It’s just a wonderful community event that’s run perfectly, from young; old, from here or some place else, whether they’re Catholic or not. It doesn’t make a difference,” Wilson said. “Everyone comes just to have a great time and it puts everyone in the Christmas Spirit. It’s such a wonderful experience.”
The Southern Maryland chapter first began nearly 20 years ago and was first held at the Calvert Marine Museum just north of Our Lady Star of the Sea.
Musicians came near and far from as far as Pennsylvania, Fairfax, Va., as well as Spring Ridge Middle School. Patuxent High School, Northern High School, Great Mills High School as well as Chopticon High graced the stage with experts on the instrument.
Locals joined in for the one hour performance, singing Christmas hymns such as Silent Night and Joy to the World with the lead of conductor Rick Penix.
A moment of silence was also respected for service men and women who can’t be with their families this Christmas.
Co-Coordinators of the event, Pad Murphy, David Wagner and Brian Brown followed in the footsteps of Bill White, who organized the performance for over 15 years.
“Bill White was really the founding coordinator,” Murphy said. “There are TubaChristmas performances all over the country. In modern history it states Harvey Phillips started a TubaChristmas as a tribute to his teacher and mentor William J. Bell (born on Christmas Day in 1902). The traditional Christmas music that was performed at the very first concert was arranged by composer Alec Wilder (passed away on Christmas Eve, 1980).”
Murphy said the band members consists of basically whomever shows up to play.
“I’m actually not a tuba player,” Murphy said. “I’m a trumpet player but TubaChristmas very generously produces some of the music in treble clef so trumpet players can jump over to the baritone. My son is also a trumpet player.”
Santa brought his tuba along and played a vital role during the performance.
Originally was Fairfax, Jay Converse has been participating in a TubaChristmas for 36 years now. He said he enjoys coming to Calvert County to visit family and gathering with the band, handing out bells to the children for audience participation and just bringing joy to everyone’s faces.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Converse said. “I’ve been doing Santa since I was about 18, but the full Santa probably about 10 years because you know once you go full Santa, you can’t go back to half Santa. It’s fun. Everyone just comes up to you. You know, I’ve learned 18 months old -not so much. They don’t trust you but then there’s the two year old’s but by nine they’re like, ‘well, you’re not the real Santa’ but when you take on the Sousaphone, it’s a lot of fun.”
Please enjoy the picture gallery below.
Tammy Showalter/ Calvert Beacon Reporter