19th edition of Tuba Christmas returns to H-F High School Saturday

Musicians perform during the 2014 Tuba Christmas 
concert at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. 

(HF Chronicle file photo)

It’s music you can feel.

During the annual Tuba Christmas concert at H-F High School, waves of sound from low brass instruments hit you right in the middle of the chest. The songs are familiar but the experience is not.

More than three dozen musicians will perform on tubas, sousaphones and euphoniums at this year’s free concert, which begins at 3 p.m. Saturday in the high school’s Mall Auditorium.

It’s the 19th consecutive year that tubas – instruments that normally get just the bass line in music – have taken center stage in the unique holiday concert at H-F. Musicians come from all around the Chicago area, and beyond, to play at the annual show.

“I’ve heard that we might get someone from St. Louis this year,” said Tom Hentschel, who has coordinated the concert for a number of years. “Last year we had a player from South Carolina.”

Hentschel, of Homewood, isn’t sure how many players will be at Saturday’s concert.

“There’s no way of knowing,” he said. “We have open registration and people just show up.” In the last few years, at least 40 musicians have been on stage with their big brass blasters. They come to the high school at noon, have a rehearsal at 1 p.m. and are ready for their tuba-loving public to arrive later in the afternoon. 

Tuba Christmas concerts are held all around the United States during the holiday season. The concerts were started in 1974 by tuba player and Indiana University music professor Harvey Phillips as a tribute to his teacher and mentor William J. Bell. The concerts were also started as a show of solidarity among musicians who don’t usually get to play the melody.

Nine Tuba Christmas concerts are taking place in Illinois this year; the H-F event is the only one in the South Suburbs. The largest Tuba Christmas in the Chicago area takes place each year in a giant ballroom at the venerable Palmer House Hilton Hotel.

But H-F’s concert is a much more intimate affair. It’s a family-friendly event with plenty of seats and easy parking. You can sit back and listen to the songs of the season – “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and many more – performed like you have never heard before.

And you can feel it too

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