News & Updates

We Wish You A Merry (Tuba) Christmas!

Posted on December 3rd, 2019 at 1:23 PM
We Wish You A Merry (Tuba) Christmas!

Tuba players are a jolly lot. 

“Low-brass players tend to have a good sense of humor and a real love of what they do,” said Gary Viebranz, teaching professor of music and director of instrumental ensembles at Penn State Behrend. “There’s a real camaraderie there.” 

That’s hard to miss at Tuba Christmas, when an all-brass ensemble – some dressed in holiday pajamas – perform jaunty Christmas standards. 

Tuba Christmas debuted at Rockefeller Plaza in 1974. The first program was produced by Harvey Phillips, the “Heifetz of the tuba.” His career stretched from circus gigs to the U.S. Army Field Band to the Juilliard School. He also managed the finances at the New England Conservatory of Music. 

Phillips staged the first Tuba Christmas concert to honor his former tuba teacher, William J. Bell, who was born on Christmas Day in 1902. He limited it to low-brass instruments: tubas, baritones and euphoniums. 

Today, there are more than 180 Tuba Christmas concerts, all produced with support from the Harvey Phillips Foundation. 

Penn State Behrend’s concert – the 18th annual tuba concert at the college – will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, in the McGarvey Commons of the Reed Union Building. The performance, which will include renditions of “Deck the Halls,” “The First Noel” and, naturally, “Fum, Fum, Fum,” is free and open to the public. 

Student, amateur and professional low-brass musicians are invited to join the performance; the $10 registration fee includes lunch and a commemorative button. Rehearsals will be held on-site beginning at 9:30 a.m. 

For more information, or to register, visit or contact Viebranz at 814-898-6289 or