Tuba Christmas a fun tribute for Virginia City Highlands man
Appeal Staff Writer
It was Todd DeVito’s late wife who got him started performing in all-tuba Christmas concerts, and now it’s a holiday tradition that’s became an annual tribute to her.
DeVito, of the Virginia City Highlands, plays in an all-tuba orchestra that will perform a Christmas concert in Reno on Saturday.
“I was a trumpet player for 20 years or so, just at the local level, and my wife played tuba,” he said. “We went to a Tuba Christmas and I thought, ‘that is the coolest thing I ever heard,’ so I went out and bought my own.”
His wife, Laurie, died three years ago of a pulmonary embolism while hiking in northwest Washington.
“She just collapsed on the trail,” he said. “I’m carrying this on for her memory. This is something she loved every year and I wouldn’t let it go now.”
DeVito, 42, said Tuba Christmas is an international event, now in its 34th year, that goes to 200 cities throughout the country.
“In the past several years there have been special performances in Iraq,” he said, adding that tuba players in Tuba Christmas often come from military bands.
Tuba players, typically 20-30, from all across the region will be at the event. In a recent Sacramento concert there were about 150, and New York City Tuba Christmas shows often get more than 400.
That many tubas sounds like a huge organ, DeVito said.
“They will be playing in four-part harmony, so it will have a deep, rich tone,” he said.
A deep, rich low tone.
“It’s all very low,” he said. “High notes are still low by any other instrument’s range, but we’re playing the same melodies, just a bit lower. It’s all sorts of Christmas carols, along with audience participation sing-alongs.”
The concert will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Wilbur D. May Museum at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.
They play traditional carols, both religious and secular, with a Hanukkah song thrown in for good measure, he said.
DeVito has lived in the Virginia City Highlands for 17 years, and is the manager of computer programming for the Nevada Department of Transportation. He is planning to marry again, and his fiancee, Loran, has been helping him coordinate the Reno show.
The players have such a good time at Tuba Christmas, they decorate their tubas for the Best Dressed Tuba contest.
“All the payers are encouraged to decorate their tubas, and the audience will decide who wins,” he said. “We have had Christmas ornaments and lights. Someone put a train on the top once.”
His late wife put a village on hers, and had Santa flying around on his sleigh.
“That’s what it’s really all about is fun,” he said.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 881-7351.
If You Go
WHAT: Tuba Christmas
WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday, registration 12:30 p.m. and rehearsal 1 p.m.
WHERE: Wilbur D. May Museum at Rancho San Rafael Park, 1595 N. Sierra St., Reno.
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