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Come All Ye Faithful: TubaChristmas brings Christmas cheer to Shepherdstown

By Staff | Dec 30, 2016

Ogden Newspaper photo by Danyel VanReenen Zack Corpus directs the diverse tube ensemble Saturday afternoon in front of McMurran Hall in Shepherdstown while locals gather to enjoy the holiday event.

Nothing says Christmas like a group of 36 tuba players performing classic Christmas carols, according to Dr. Kathleen Corpus, associate professor at Shepherd University and organizer of the TubaChristmas event.

The event, in its sixth year in Shepherdstown, is a national celebration as well. Zack Corpus, who served as director for the event, said as many as 700 tuba players registered to participate in bigger cities in the nation.

Shepherdstown represented the average size of a TubaChristmas concert, according to Corpus. He said in addition to tubas, euphonium players were also part of the ensemble.

The group of diverse players set up on the steps of McMurran Hall at 1 p.m. Christmas Eve and rang in the holiday season with their first song, “O’ Come All Ye Faithful.” The classic carol echoed through German Street. The expectant crowd was encouraged to join the tuba ensemble in song throughout the performance as well.

The audience could feel the reverberating melodies of the instruments in the ground in front of McMurran as they played a variety of carols. Corpus incorporated the Hawaiian Christmas melody “Mele Kalikimaka” as well as the traditional French carol “The First Noel.”

“I’ve incorporated these songs to celebrate the diversity of the cultures and nationalities who participate in celebrating TubaChristmas,” Corpus said.

TubaChristmas, begun by a professor named Harvey Phillips, debuted in Rockefeller Plaza in New York City in 1974. Since then, it has become an event spanning across the nation with TubaChristmas performances open to players of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels to enjoy the festivities of the season, as well as the joy of playing.

The youngest player in the Shepherdstown ensemble was 13; the oldest was 76. The ensemble consisted of both high school and college students, local musicians and tuba players who have participated in multiple TubaChristmas events per season over the many years of its existence.

Elizabeth and Elena Camp, two sisters from Virginia, were players in the ensemble.

“It’s a fun chance to meet people,” Elizabeth said.

“It’s a way to give back to communities and use music to celebrate the season of giving,” Elena said.

Corpus, a tuba player himself, said it was great to hear the final product.

“It’s a fun way to celebrate Christmas,” Corpus said. “I love hearing the music come together and watching all of the adults and kids get excited about the music and season.”