Victoria’s annual Market Square Tuba Christmas celebration to usher in the holiday season

Culture Events Music

’Tis the season for tuba

Graphic by Beth May.

It’s that time of year again! Tuba time, that is.

On Saturday, Dec. 14 at 1 p.m., more than 100 brass and euphonium players will serenade holiday shoppers in Market Square with seasonal tunes.

This year’s rockin’ Tuba Christmas event will be Victoria’s 41st, and the world’s 46th

Paul Beauchesne, principal tuba of the Victoria Symphony and UVic’s own music performance instructor will conduct the concert. Community players will join with high school band students to blast cheer and good tidings through a selection of  classic Christmas songs.

The tradition began on Dec. 22, 1974, when 300 tubists and other low brass players filled the New York City Rockefeller Centre’s ice rink. Harvey Phillips conceived the grand plan to celebrate his mentor, William J. Bell, who was born on Christmas Day (and who undoubtedly was not at all sick of hearing carols on his birthday). The event was a massive success, and this year will feature concerts in nearly every U.S. state, excluding Delaware and Rhode Island.

Some international venues have picked up the tradition as well, including four Canadian shows: Victoria (Dec 14), Vancouver (Dec 15), Kamloops (Dec 7), and Lethbridge (Dec 21). Canberra, Australia and San Ramón De Alajuela, Costa Rica will also be celebrating the season very loudly. 

No matter where you’re located, musicians are encouraged to dress festively, and some concerts even have a “best dressed” instrument contest. 

If you’re a tuba, euphonium, sousaphone, or baritone player that’s interested in getting involved, bring $10 to rehearsal at 8:30 a.m. in the MacLaurin B Wing on the morning of Dec 14. 

If you’re simply interested in being serenaded, dress for the weather and bring a few dollars for the Times Colonist Christmas Fund. The charity donates to the Mustard Seed’s annual Christmas dinner, and holiday hamper efforts at The Salvation Army and Our Place.