Euphonium euphoria: Merry Tuba Christmas returns to Morristown, Dec. 21

Video from 2012

They might have 76 trombones in the big parade. But on the Morristown Green, they’re aiming for 76 tubas.

Merry Tuba Christmas returns on Dec. 21, 2013, at 3 pm.

Tubists and euphonists from are anticipated from hither and yon. It’s the sophomore year in Morristown for this wonderfully wacky hour-long free concert, now part of a national tradition born 40 years ago at Rockefeller Center in New York.

That event was hatched by Harvey Phillips as a tribute to Harvey’s teacher, the late tuba legend William J. Bell.  (Who knew there were tuba legends?)

BETTER THAN ANTI-FREEZE: Whiskers prevent tuba from freezing to this player's lips at Morristown's first Merry Tuba Christmas. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

BETTER THAN ANTI-FREEZE: Whiskers prevent euphonium from freezing to this player’s lips at Morristown’s first Merry Tuba Christmas in 2012. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Morristown’s version is the brainchild of Doug Rutan, director of the Morristown High School marching band and a pretty fair euphonium player in his own right.  (A euphonium is like a tuba on a diet.)

Doug hopes to surpass last year’s turnout of 60 musicians.

What’s the charm of Merry Tuba Christmas?

“These two instruments, and especially the tuba, in concert bands and symphony orchestras rarely get the melody,” Doug explains. “Now, they get their own melodies. And the two instruments together are very sonorous.”

Besides, the very idea of such a concert is… unique.

“Not many people know about the tuba and euphonium,” says Doug, a Newton native who switched from trumpet to euphonium back in the 6th grade so he would not have to worry about high notes any more. His daughter and son have followed in his musical footsteps.

Doug will get some help from guest conductor John Palatucci, his former high school band mate in a regional all-star band.

Anyone keen on performing in Merry Tuba Christmas should contact Doug.

Everybody else just can show up. Dress warmly and bring your voice–spontaneous caroling could break out.


Scenes from the 2012 Merry Tuba Christmas.

Speak Your Mind