By Marisa Grill
If you've never thought of the tuba as a versatile instrument, this week's Octubafest series may change that.
School of Music concerts tonight and Wednesday as well as a Front Room performance on Tuesday provide an opportunity for students, faculty and community members to enjoy performances by musical ensembles that are not typically showcased.
Here's a glance at the lineup:
- The series opens with a recital by Associate Professor of Music Jason Smith at 8 p.m. today in the School of Music Recital Hall in Glidden Hall.
- At 8 p.m. Wednesday, the school's Euphonium/Tuba Ensemble and Trombone Choir will perform in the Recital Hall.
- The musicians also will perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Baker University Center's Front Room.
Smith hopes people are surprised at what the tuba has to offer.
"One of the best things about being a tuba player is playing for people who don't know anything about a tuba," he said. "A great compliment to hear is, 'Wow I didn't know a tuba could do that.'"
For student musicians, participating in specialized ensembles provides an opportunity to perform musical styles that break with low brass instruments' traditional roles.
"In the Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble, we are playing a piece called 'Meltdown' by Jonathan Sass that is in a jazz style and features a solo, allowing the tuba player to improvise," graduate student Andrew Cech said.
"Rock bands and other groups like that can be heard almost every night uptown or at the Front Room, but Octubafest only comes around once a year, and the music that we play can be enjoyed by people of all ages," he added.
Tuba great Harvey Phillips coined the name Octubafest in the 1970s. Phillips, a professor at Indiana University, wanted to give his tuba students an opportunity to display their skills and demonstrate that the tuba is a viable instrument for which to compose.
All performances are free and open to the public.