Monday, December 3, 2012

How The Grinch Stole Greensboro's TubaChristmas

When I was young, I played the Trumpet, Tuba, and Euphonium (a small tuba, in the same range as a trombone, but with a beautiful sound, and valves, see mine above).  In Junior High and High School I would go to UNC-Greensboro one Saturday in Early December to practice Christmas music with 150 other tuba, euphonium, and baritone (very similar to a euphonium) players.  Then we would all truck over to Four Seasons Town Centre (the Mall) and play a half hour concert for the shoppers.  This event is called TubaChristmas, and is repeated all over the world every year.

Last January, I bought myself a used Euphonium, after not having one for 20 years.  I have been practicing, with my goal to be ready for TubaChristmas this year.  However, there won't be any TubaChristmas in Greensboro in 2012.  The closest one will be in Winston Salem.  I am so sad!

It seems that since the Four Seasons Mall went bankrupt and was sold recently, that the new mall owners (General Growth Properties) were giving the organizers a hard time about trying to have TubaChristmas at the mall.  What a great way to welcome yourselves to the community-- destroy an over 30 year old Christmas tradition??? Dr. Dennis Askew, at UNC-Greensboro, had been organizing this even for many years.

Here are some YouTube clips from Greensboro TubaXmases past:

There is an event in Winston-Salem, but the information on this one still seems pretty sketchy to me - according to

LOCATION: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum
REGISTRATION: 11:00 am, Winston-Salem State University, K.R. Williams Auditorium
REHEARSAL: 1:00 pm, same
PARKING: University and Colliseum <sic> lots
CONDUCTOR: Brent Harvey
COORDINATORS: Brent M. Harvey 336-750-2526, Bart Collins 336-456-2359

Why the coliseum?  What is going on?  It looks like it is going to be played 1 hour before a basketball game?  Does my family need tickets to the basketball game to watch?  What a sad end to a LOOOONG Greensboro tradition-- I played it in 1983 and 1984 that I am sure of, and a few after that, I think.  I took my 3 year old to see it last year, and told him that Daddy would be there playing next year.

I hope that TubaChristmas can come back to Greensboro next year.  I might have to scavenge up a brass quatrtet, and go sit in a parking lot somewhere to play some Christmas music.  Any takers?

Bah Humbug?


  1. Hey BurkeyAcademy,

    I actually went to UNCG and was a tuba major there (currently I'm actually a music teacher in Kernersville, but I keep in contact with Doc Askew). The story is a bit confusing as to why it is no longer held at the mall.

    1) The mall is under new ownership
    2) The current owners own malls up and down the coast, and they use an agency that does all of their booking for events for them. This agency is somewhere in Northern Virginia.
    3) We were going to have to jump through a whole lot of hoops to even be considered for performing there.
    4) If we did play we had to "contain the sound within the auditorium area"........ right, need I say more on this one?

    That's why Tuba Christmas isn't there anymore. If you would like to help host a Tuba Christmas, or have other ideas on where it could be performed I'm sure that a whole lot of people would love for it to return as well.

    I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it so much, so did I, which is why I went on to study tuba at UNCG.

    Take Care!

    1. Lars-
      Thanks a lot for the note-- I was wondering if the bankruptcy of the mall had anything to do with it. I'll edit the note to reflect this.

      Actually, as far as containing the music... I was actually surprised how contained it is. Lest year I was scrambling to get my then 2 year old son there, and we were late. It wasn't until we got right near the center that we were able to hear it.

      In any case, I hope we can figure some way to revive this tradition! If I can think of another venue, I'll let you know... but there is nothing better than the Mall full of Christmas shoppers! Give my best to Dr. Askew! I'll be happy to help in any way I can.


    2. Yes, W-S event is before a Wake Forest Univ. basketball game. I believe it is in the lobby area where you would not need a ticket to get in; however it might be at halftime. Call one of the numbers on the info page, Bart knows!