seal  Purdue News

December 4, 2003

Purdue Bands takes over community’s TUBACHRISTMAS tradition

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue Bands will host TUBACHRISTMAS 2003, a Lafayette area holiday tradition that almost didn't happen this year because the event lost its sponsor with the closing of Weast Music last summer.

Harvey Phillips, the Bloomington, Ind., man who started the worldwide TUBACHRISTMAS tradition, made a phone call to Purdue University Bands seeking help with the Lafayette event's survival. Jay Gephart, Purdue's orchestra and symphonic band director, couldn't say no. Gephart had studied tuba at Indiana University under Phillips, now a retired I.U. distinguished professor emeritus.

As a result, TUBACHRISTMAS 2003 will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12, in the lobby of Purdue's Stewart Center. TUBACHRISTMAS will precede Purdue Bands' Holiday Cheer & All That Jazz concert set for 8 p.m. in the Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse. The show features the Purdue Jazz Band, American Music Review and Purdue's Rockettes.

Admission to both events is free.

Gephart says he was happy to assume responsibility for TUBACHRISTMAS, but taking over the organizational challenges so close to the holidays will force some changes in the 2003 event.

Phillips designed TUBACHRISTMAS to draw together tuba and euphonium players of different ages and backgrounds. This year there will be a distinct Purdue flavor since there wasn't enough time to make it a communitywide event, Gephart says. About 40 student tuba and euphonium players from the band department are expected to perform Christmas carols at the Dec. 12 event.

"Listening to dozens of tubas is like listening to an instrumental version of a male glee club," Gephart says. "Harmonies are closely knit and it has a dark, mellow sound. One of my favorite carols on tuba is 'Deck the Halls.' It's such a beautiful sound to hear all those tubas and euphoniums together."

Gephart says he hopes the 2003 show will serve as a steppingstone to re-establishing and expanding the event to include tuba players from throughout the Lafayette area. During the next year Gephart and Purdue Bands will search for another sponsor to step in and share responsibility for the event.

TUBACHRISTMAS marks its 30th anniversary this year. The first performance was conducted at New York City's Rockefeller Plaza Ice Rink in 1974. This year, multiple TUBACHRISTMAS performances will be held in 45 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, and several foreign countries. West Lafayette is one of five Indiana cities scheduled to hold TUBACHRISTMAS this year.

Writer: Kathy Matter, (765)496-6785,

Source: Jay Gephart, (765) 494-7886,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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