Tubas and sousaphones create the holiday sound during the TubaChristmas concert in McKinley High School's Umstattd Performing Arts Hall.
CANTON Taking in the roaring traditional holiday carols bellowing throughout McKinley High School's Umstattd Performing Arts Hall no doubt helped jump-start the Christmas spirit for dozens who attended Sunday's TubaChristmas performance.
The big brass horns, namely tubas, sousaphones, baritones and euphoniums, provided the music under direction of Joslin Shaffer, who is a member of the McKinley High music faculty. The event opened with the performance of "O Little Town of Bethlehem." That pretty much set the tone for the evening as venerable Christmas carols, which have been around for generations, were performed.
Shaffer took time to explain to the audience that TubaChristmas performances have become an annual tradition in various communities.
"Today it is a holiday phenomenon in the holiday season," Shaffer said. "They are all over."
It started with Harvey Phillips of Indiana University wanting to hold a holiday performance to honor one of his instructors, William Bell, of the University of Michigan.
"He wanted to honor him for how he impacted him," Shaffer said. "What better way to honor him than a Christmas concert?"
Anyone who could play an instrument in the tuba family was invited to perform. The performers ranged from senior citizens to teenagers. While the event was at McKinley High School, students from other schools performed.
The concert rated "a 10," said spectator George Kollar of Alliance. "That means everyone should come and enjoy it. What is happening is people are walking on eggs because they don't know how to express themselves."
By that, Kollar explained that people had been shying away from the traditional "Merry Christmas" greeting in favor of just wishing others a happy holiday.
Many performers wore holiday attire, such as red stocking hats. Also, they had Christmas ornaments attached to the bells of the instruments. At one point, Shaffer requested the auditorium lights be dimmed so the audience could fully see the lights on some of the instruments.
About 200 people attended the concert.
"Actually, it was a little bit more than last year," Shaffer said. "This year we had 21 more players than last year."
The orchestra featured 47 players.
"It is something artistic," said Tim Miller of Green, who played a baritone during the concert. "The beauty of coming to this, you see all the younger people, getting to rub shoulders with them."
Miller said he also played in the TubaChristmas in Akron.
For being in the concert, "I don't get extra credit," said Katelyn Mayle, a McKinley High junior, who played a baritone. "I just enjoy it."
During the concert, Shaffer took up a collection on behalf of a scholarship fund at Jackson High School in memory of Kyle Starkey, 22, who died this past April. Starkey had been a participant in the Jackson High band and more recently was a student at the University of Akron.
"The donations received here today are going over to Jackson High School," Shaffer said.
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