Holly Jolly Tubas took place in the lobby of the Bicknell Center at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 and featured 30 tuba and euphonium players ranging from middle schoolers to senior citizens.
Doug Whitten, professor of music, led the event and has done so since 2003.
“It started in New York in 1975 when Bill Bell, who was the tubist with the New York Philharmonic, passed away, so it was a celebration for him and they started off with about 100 tuba players in New York City and it’s been a tradition since,” Whitten said. “We have some local tie-ins with it. The person who organized it, his name was Harvey Phillips. He was the tuba teacher at Indiana University and he’s from this area and his nephew went to Pitt State and taught locally at Joplin High School and Fort Scott at the community college. So, we’ve been doing it here for 16 years. When I first started at Pitt State, I was asked by the band director of Carl Junction if I would put together ‘Tuba Christmas,’ so I’ve been doing it basically for him since.”
Because of the Joplin Christmas parade occurring at the same time as the event, not as many players were able to make it to the performance, but Whitten said it went well nonetheless.
“Tonight we had about 30 players and normally we have 40 or 50 but there’s so much going on tonight… (the parade) took out all the kids from MSSU and from Webb City and Nevada and all those schools that send a lot of students here. But I thought it went really well. The kids learned the music and it sounded, I think, pretty good,” Whitten said.
The setlist for the concert started with the Star-Spangled Banner and then proceeded with several Christmas carols including “Canon in D” by Pachelbel, “Carol of the Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “The Chipmunk Song,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Let it Snow,” “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Joy to the World,” “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Silent Night.”
“I thought it was pretty cool… As (Whitten) said, there’s people from… All over so I think it’s really cool that they can come meet and play together and they… All met today for the first time… It was really awesome,” Kimberly Gramm, sophomore in music education, said. “They don’t really get to play the melody much, so it’s really cool that people just across the age board and different ways of life, they just come and play Christmas music together and they get to… play the melody and it’s music that everyone can relate to at any age.”
Cooper Schmiedeler, senior in music, said this was his fourth year participating in the concert.
“It’s always fun playing Christmas music, playing with middle schoolers through elderly folk, so yeah it was a lot of fun,” Schmiedeler said.