Re: Tuba Ensembles?!

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Posted by Steve Marcus on April 19, 1999 at 06:43:15:

In Reply to: Tuba Ensembles?! posted by Chris on April 18, 1999 at 23:21:08:

The role of the tuba in ensembles that offer full frequency range, such as symphony orchestras, wind ensembles, British Brass Bands, etc. is unchallenged. But Chris has eloquently posed a question about the legitimacy of the tuba in the public's eye and ear in performances that specifically feature its own range, timbre, etc.

The music in tuba ensembles, tuba/euphonium quartets, even tuba solos, must keep the characteristics of the tuba in mind in order to be effective. When the public is so accustomed to hearing the music played by more generic ensembles, ANY homogenous grouping (e.g. clarinet choir, flute choir, etc.) may be perceived, at best, as a novelty. OTOH, some music is absolutely gorgeous when performed by a tuba ensemble. The presence of the ringing overtones from a tuba/euph quartet make Bruckner motets, for instance, attractive in any performance venue.

Some titles, by their very nature, invite ridicule: Tuba Juba Duba, Asleep in the Deep, etc. However, the public can be equally impressed by music that is written specifically with the expressive qualities of the tuba. For example, I recently had a very positive experience performing the three movements of the Haddad Suite in church for Prelude, Offertory, and Postlude, respectively. Although the Suite is not all that profound or complex a piece of music, it is sincere in its style of lyricism for the tuba. I received quite a warm response from members of the congregation, who expressed their pleasure in hearing the tuba "sing" rather than merely "oompah." Typical comments were, "I never knew that the tuba could sound like that!"

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