Hundreds fill Market Square for Tuba Christmas

Update: One-hundred-plus musicians, young and old, professionals and students, played traditional Christmas carols on low-brass instruments — tubas, baritones, euphoniums and sousaphones — at Victoria Tuba Christmas on Saturday. Hundreds of people filled the courtyard and surrounding balconies of Market Square to enjoy nearly two hours of festive music, performed in a rich rumble. The event was also a fundraiser for the Times Colonist Christmas Fund. The song list included Jingle Bells, Huron Carol, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and O Come, All Ye Faithful.

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Ichristmas fundt’s Beginning To Sound A Lot Like Christmas. ...

Gleaming rows of tubas, baritones, euphoniums and Dr. Seuss-like sousaphones will fill Market Square Saturday afternoon for the 41st annual Tuba Christmas. The number of performers grows every year and this year, more than 120 musicians, young and old, professionals and students, are expected to come together and play traditional Christmas carols.

“I’ve got a lot of young students coming from School District 61. The band teachers have really got on board. I’ve even got a group of students coming over from Salt Spring Island,” says organizer and conductor Paul Beauchesne, principal tubist with the Victoria Symphony.

The concert begins at 1 p.m. and raises money for the Times Colonist Christmas Fund.

O Come All Ye Faithful …

Hundreds will crowd into the courtyard, fill the staircases and press up against the balconies to hear the deep, rich rumble of lower bass instruments reverberating through Market Square.

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells …

Twinkling lights and festive decorations will embellish the big brass instruments. Not to be outdone, the musicians themselves dress up in Santa hats or red and white Tuba Christmas toques and scarves.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen …

Many of the tuba and euphonium players remember Victoria Symphony principal tubist Eugene Dowling, who founded Tuba Christmas. Dowling, who taught at the University of Victoria for more than 30 years, died in June 2015.

In 2014, with his health rapidly declining, Dowling passed his baton and music book to Beauchesne, his former music student. He also introduced Beauchesne to the community of musicians, music teachers and Naden band members who play in this offbeat concert.

Abide with Me …

The Times Colonist Christmas Fund was dear to Dowling’s heart, says Beauchesne. Dowling saw the concert as a way to help the greater community. Over the years, the concerts have raised close to $60,000. Last year, Tuba Christmas raised a record $3,000.

Each year, in memory of Dowling, the ensemble always plays an arrangement of Abide With Me. The piece was commissioned by Denis Latham, 79, who has played at all 40 of Victoria’s Tuba Christmas events. This year, the band will also play a new arrangement of The Huron Carol.

No Crib for a Bed …

Money donated to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund is turned over to the Salvation Army and Mustard Seed Street Church, which distribute hampers and gift certificates to those who need it most. The fund assists individuals and families in need during the Christmas season. Volunteers will walk through the crowd collecting cash donations.

Donations can also be placed in a tuba at the front of the stage.

Joy to the World …

And you don’t even have to be in Market Square to be surrounded by the warm hum of the tubas.

Roll.Focus.Productions and CHEK TV are live-streaming the event from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. You can watch the concert at CHEK News: Official Page on Facebook.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas,

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year

How to donate

• Go to timescolonist.com/donate. That takes you to the Canada Helps website, which is open 24 hours a day and provides an immediate tax receipt.

• Mail a cheque, payable to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund Society, to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, 2621 Douglas St., Victoria, B.C. V8T 4M2.

• Use your credit card by phoning 250-995-4438 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. Outside those hours, leave a message, we’ll call back.

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