Market Square is quiet now. But soon, very soon, the big, deep sound of Tuba Christmas will reverberate once more.
On Saturday afternoon from 1 to 3, the square will be filled with musicians of all ages and gleaming brass instruments. For many music lovers, the rumble of 100 low-brass instruments signals the start of the Christmas season.
Some revellers will bring their chairs, settling in to enjoy their favourite Christmas carols. Others will pause during their Christmas shopping, surprised and delighted by the low growl of the age-old favourites.
Children will scramble on the statue of the massive polar bear and volunteers will move through the crowd, collecting donations for the Times Colonist Christmas Fund. This year’s Times Colonist Christmas Fund campaign has received $378,804 in donations from 1,430 donors from its Nov. 12 launch to Dec. 7. The fundraising goal is $1 million.
“We’re excited to be back,” said Paul Beauchesne, who organizes the event, teaches at the University of Victoria and is principal tuba player with the Victoria Symphony.
“I’m so glad Market Square is supporting putting it back on again in the open. There seems to be a lot of excitement from people who want to come and participate. I’ve been getting emails from people on the north Island and the mainland, so I’m hoping we get a good crowd of participants and audience.”
Victoria’s Tuba Christmas was founded 42 years ago by Eugene Dowling, a tuba player with the symphony who taught at UVic for more than 30 years. In 2014, in declining health, Dowling passed his baton and music book to Beauchesne, his former music student.
For the past two years, Tuba Christmas was held indoors on a smaller scale with fewer players because of the pandemic.
“Now we’re back to the big,” said Beauchesne, adding he won’t know actual numbers until the day. “I’m hoping we’ll be up close to 100 musicians again. It should be really good.”
The performance will include Christmas favourites like Jingle Bells, We Three Kings and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
The performers will play special arrangements of The Huron Carol and Adeste Fideles by trombonist Scott McInnes, who will join in on euphonium this year.
Local composer Tobin Stokes has penned an arrangement of The Christmas Song — “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” — for the large brass ensemble.
The Times Colonist Christmas Fund is much-needed this year, Beauchesne said.
“It’s getting the funds out to where they are making a difference. And that’s great.”
Besides, it’s fun throwing money into the giant bell of a tuba.
All tuba and euphonium players are welcome to participate. Anyone wishing to take part in the performance or volunteer to help out is asked to contact Beauchesne at email@example.com.
Roll.Focus.Productions and CHEK TV are live-streaming the event on CHEK-TV and the CHEK News Facebook page from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.
How to donate to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund
• Donate online. Go to timescolonist.com/donate, which is open 24 hours a day and provides an immediate tax receipt.
• Donate by mail. Send a cheque to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, 201-655 Tyee Road, Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5.
• Donate by phone. Use your credit card by phoning 250-995-4438 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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