TubaChristmas in the Twin Cities

Carol Jensen led the tuba-euphonium ensemble at the 2001 TubaChristmas concert at Apache Plaza in St. Anthony, a Minneapolis suburb. Carol conducts while some audience members sit on the edge of the stage.
Tubist Blanche Krbechek, second from left, is one of three people who have performed in all of the Twin Cities TubaChristmas concerts through 2002. Musicians of all ages play tubas, euphoniums, sousaphones, and baritone horns.
Glen Newton plays a decorated tuba, wearing a knit "TUBA CHRISTMAS" hat. Glen Newton played a BBb tuba decorated with Christmas garland in the 2001 ensemble.

Colorful clothing and decorated instruments are part of the annual TubaChristmas concerts held in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Carol Jensen conducts these annual concerts, held on a Saturday afternoon in December. They are among many TubaChristmas festivals held across the country under the auspices of the International Tuba-Euphonium Association (which began as T.U.B.A., the Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association).

Tubas and related instruments have been made in many different shapes, sizes, and valve configurations, and a generous variety of these can be seen and heard at any of the Twin Cities TubaChristmas concerts. Among the instruments usually seen are tubas in BBb, CC, Eb, and F with upright and front-facing bells, having three to six rotary or piston valves; euphoniums in rectangular and helical shapes with front-facing or upright bells and both compensating and non-compensating valve systems; sousaphones in BBb and Eb with fiberglass or metal bells; helicon basses; and baritone horns with medium or narrow bore and three or four valves. Occasionally a less common instrument makes an appearance, such as Lee Dummer's double-bell euphonium or Dave Magnuson's five-valve baritone horn (with three valves on top and two at the side, one to raise the pitch a step and the other to lower it a half step).

Al is surrounded by the "heavy metal" quartet.

Publicity for the concerts has included the appearance of a tuba-euphonium quartet on local radio. Here, tubists Jerry Greupner (back) and Warren Mitchell (front) and euphoniumists Glen Newton (back) and Carol Jensen (front) pose with radio host Al Malmberg, a former tuba player. Playing on Al's December 12, 2002, overnight show on WCCO radio, the group, which dubbed themselves the "CCO Tuba Four" for the performance, brought the music of TubaChristmas to hundreds of thousands of listeners in 38 states coast-to-coast.

Warren, who assists with registrations as well as playing, and Carol are the other two people who have performed in all of the Twin Cities TubaChristmas concerts.

In the 2001 concert, players ranged in age from pre-teens to septegenarians. For 2002, the youngest player was 11, and the oldest was 83. Furthermore, because it's so much fun, the festival attracts musicians for whom a tuba family member is a second or third instrument. In the 2001 concert, for example, the performers including instrumentalists whose primary instrument was trumpet, saxophone, bass clarinet, trombone, and lute, among others.

The central feature of each concert is the four-part Christmas carols performed by the ensemble. Conductor Carol Jensen also invites audience members to sing along on the repeats and provides Christmas history anecdotes and information about the performers (oldest, youngest, came from farthest away, participated in the most TubaChristmas festivals, etc.) to entertain the audiences.

The Twin Cities TubaChristmas concerts began in 1988 under conductor Carol Jensen, who has led the concerts ever since. The first concert and several others were held in Rosedale Mall in Roseville. Others have been held at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Maplewood Mall, Southdale Mall in Edina, Apache Plaza in St. Anthony, Har-Mar Mall in Roseville, and Central Presbyterian Church in St. Paul.