Polished Brass: The Philadelphia Orchestra Presents a Tuba/Euphonium PlayIN

May 09, 2017

Harold Hill in The Music Man was proud of the 76 trombones in his makeshift marching band. But Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Tuba Carol Jantsch is aiming much higher for the Tuba/Euphonium PlayIN she’s organized for this Saturday, May 13, at 5 PM in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center. She’s hoping for a couple hundred tubas and euphoniums, with maybe a sousaphone or two thrown in for good measure.

“I just want to foster the tuba community,” Carol explains. “Tuba players don’t often get to play the melody, especially in an orchestra. But in this case, you’re bound to have really fun stuff to play. And it’s a great opportunity to meet all the other tuba and euphonium players in the area.”

Early registrants are hard at work, practicing the four-part arrangements Carol has made. The playlist includes “Dawn” from Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra; Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt; Elgar’s “Nimrod” from “Enigma” Variations; a little ditty called Eine kleine Tubamusik; and Sousa’s “Liberty Bell” March. Popular music gets due respect, too, with arrangements of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Earth Wind & Fire’s “September,” and the Game of Thrones theme.

Several of Carol’s Philadelphia Orchestra colleagues are getting in on the act, including Principal Percussion Christopher Deviney. And the entire trombone section will be trading in their regular instruments for euphoniums (except for bass trombonist Blair Bollinger, who’ll be wielding the mighty cimbasso, a sort of trombone-tuba hybrid).

The participants will also get to take a breather and listen to Carol’s cover band, Tubular, and its renditions of what she calls “jammin’ heavy stuff!”

Carol insists there’s no need for PlayIN participants to feel awed by the presence of the Fabulous Philadelphians. “This is for everybody! The parts are pretty simplified, so there’s no reason to feel intimidated. And as I’ll explain at the event, when in doubt, leave it out! There’ll be so many players, it’ll be OK to sit out, take a breather, and enjoy the massive vibrations around you. My dad will be joining us, on euphonium. He played tuba for a grand total of a couple of months in high school, roughly four decades ago. If he can play, you can play!”

(The Tuba/Euphonium PlayIN is Saturday May 13, at 5 PM in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center. While registration is closed, this is a free event for those who wish to watch from the audience. You can reserve tickets here.)

Photo by Jessica Griffin