OctubaFest stays true to German roots

Tuba students performed during the annual “OcTubafest,” where students and faculty can showcase their talents with the instruments during the German Festival and celebrate the benefits and history of both the tuba and euphonium.

Tuba students performed during the annual “OcTubafest,” where students and faculty can showcase their talents with the instruments during the German Festival and celebrate the benefits and history of both the tuba and euphonium.
Nate Callaway/The Lion's Roar

Traditionally, Oktoberfest is a 16 day German festival held each year in Munich and Bavaria, which is based around local beer, food and amusement rides. “OcTubafest” is a bit different though. It is two days of tuba and euphonium performances. 

“OcTubafest” was held Tuesday, Oct. 25 and ran through Wednesday, Oct. 26. The celebration was created in 1974 by a tuba player named Harvey Phillips, in honor of his tuba instructor Bill Bell. It is intended to give the tuba and euphonium the positive exposure it deserves. 

“Most people’s experience with the tuba is marching band, maybe orchestra,” said Dr. Brian Gallion, lecturer of tuba and euphonium. “They kind of sit in the back of the room and that’s just what they do, and the point of OcTubafest, and other events like it, is to show that these instruments can play just absolutely stunning, beautiful music.”

Gallion began playing the tuba at 11 years old and continued on through marching band in high school and college, but had his first real understanding of the potential for the instrument while in college.

“I was a sophomore in college at Tennessee,” said Gallion. “We played a band piece that had a jazz tuba solo, and I got to play the solo. When we were finished, I got to take a bow by myself and that was the moment for me that was like, ‘this is really awesome, and I want to get recognition for playing this instrument.’”

Gallion also stated that was the moment that made him want to go look for pieces written specifically for the tuba.

The two day long concert series opened with a student solo recital that featured euphonium and tuba students from all over Louisiana and outside the state including Baton Rouge, Tickfaw, Destrehan and even Commerce City, Colorado. 

There were two performances held on Wednesday, the first being a student recital, with both a small and large ensemble of six tubas and six euphoniums. The smaller groups consisted of one tuba and euphonium “quatet,” which is called so because the student who arranged all the pieces played had misspelled quartet, and the name stuck. A tuba duet and a euphonium and flute duet were also included. They each performed one different piece, mainly arrangements of more traditional Russian and German pieces. 

In the second act of the recital, the entire ensemble was brought out and they began with “Fanfare” from the film “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” Then they played a song called “O Magnum Mysterium,” a responsorial chant from the Matins of Christmas. They played “Adventurers Tale,” a piece written with the intention of giving the audience a sense of being with the adventurer, as Gallion said during the introduction. 

Later that evening, a solo recital was performed by Gallion entitled “Movie Music for the Tuba.” Included were songs such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gabriel’s Oboe” from “The Mission.” All music in the first half was accompanied by piano player, Chuck Effler, director of the Opera and Music Theatre Workshop. In the second half, Gallion played with a CD accompaniment. Gallion is currently working with Professor Christina Molina from the Department of Fine and Performing Arts to create an animation for both works and is aiming to reveal them at the Southeast Regional Tuba and Euphonium Conference in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.