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A Tuba Epiphany!

posted Jan 6, 2013, 10:40 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 20, 2013, 8:36 PM ]
Remember the story of The Little Drummer Boy who is summoned by the Magi to the nativity where, without a gift for the infant Jesus, he plays his drum for him?  Anyone at the 11:45 am Mass today will be lucky enough to hear the gracious gift of “a little tuba girl”, as Lee Scharmat plays her tuba for us!  Lee learned to play when she was 11 years old, then purchased a tuba a few years ago and has taken it up again!

Tuba is Latin for trumpet or horn.  Made of about 16 feet of tubing, it’s the largest and lowest-sounding brass instrument.  Though the brass family can trace its ancestry back centuries to herald trumpets, hunting horns and military bugles, the tuba is the youngest, first appearing in the mid-19th century, and was the last instrument added to the modern orchestra.   

Did you know that brass is made of copper and zinc, which are both found in vitamins?  And that if you eat a balanced diet for an average lifespan, the minerals you consume are equivalent to eating an entire tuba?

In 1941, Danny Kaye recorded a symphonic story about how a tuba finds a melody to play.  Tubby the Tuba has now been translated into more than 30 languages, played by every major orchestra in the world, used as a clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle and narrated by a galaxy of stars.  Two months from now, on Saturday, March 16th, the Little Orchestra Society will present this timeless classic in Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, narrated by the “Grandmother of Punk music” Patti Smith.

And if you want to hear more holiday music played, TubaChristmas is an annual international concert.  The first one was held in 1974 in Rockefeller Center’s ice skating rink to honor tuba teacher William Bell, who was born on Christmas Day, 1902.  Thirty-nine years later, it has spread through cities worldwide, with thousands of tubas playing Christmas carols.  So check it out next December…