TubaChristmas concert set for Dec. 8

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Texas Border Business

The 31st annual Rio Grande Valley TubaChristmas Concert will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 8, at the McAllen Convention Center (700 Convention Center Blvd.) in McAllen. It is a unique and entertaining concert of Christmas music. 

For the first time, the concert will be performed outdoors on the south side of the Convention Center. Spectator seating will be available. The concert is free to the public.

TubaChristmas is an ensemble of several hundred tuba and euphonium players from the Rio Grande Valley and beyond. This ensemble will include members of the Rio Grande Valley Symphony Orchestra, the McAllen Symphonic Band, Valley Band Directors and the finest high school and junior high students from many Valley schools. 

Last year’s concert featured students from McAllen, Edinburg, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, Mission, Valley View, Donna, La Joya, Rio Grande City, Roma, Mercedes, Sharyland, Edcouch-Elsa, Weslaco, Harlingen, Los Fresnos, Hidalgo, Brownsville, Rio Hondo and Port Isabel.  The Rio Grande Valley TubaChristmas Concert has grown in recent years to become the largest TubaChristmas event in Texas and one of the largest in the world. 

Each year, a guest artist is featured. This year’s guest artist will be Eric Fritz. He plays the principal tuba for the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra. Fritz earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Southern California and a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School in New York City.

In addition, he has carried out postgraduate studies in the conservatories of Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland. He has been principal tuba of the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra since 1992 and was the principal tuba of the Spoleto Festival in the United States of America and in Italy, as well as the Symphony Orchestra of Mining in Mexico City. His performance is made possible by a grant from Melhart’s Music of McAllen.

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“One of the most popular features of the RGV TubaChristmas Concert is the tuba-decorating contest,” Dr. Scott Roeder, TubaChristmas Co-Coordinator and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Professor of Tuba, said. “Several of the performers have very extensive decorations on their instruments.  This is one of the reasons that this concert is unlike any other Christmas Concert. 

TubaChristmas is a series of nationwide concerts that runs each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. There are more than 150 concerts in 46 states along with additional performances in Canada and Switzerland. These groups include from four to 500 musicians. The first TubaChristmas was held on in December, 1974, on the Ice Rink Stage of New York City’s Rockefeller Center.

More than 300 tuba and euphonium players gathered to honor the memory of William Bell (born Christmas Day, 1902) and to celebrate his considerable achievements as a performer and teacher. Mr. Bell was a member of John Phillip Sousa’s Band, the Goldman Band, the NBC Symphony Orchestra, NewYork Philharmonic and was on the faculty of the Julliard School of Music, Manhattan School of Music and University of Indiana. Arturo Toscanini, conductor of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, considered Bill Bell to be the world’s greatest tubist.

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