It is hard to believe that another year of TubaFest is over… TubaFest? Yes, you read that correctly… The Fredericton International TubaFest was started in 2004 by my father, Richard Riding. Every year for the last 9 years clinicians and participants from the US and Canada have gathered at Memorial Hall in Fredericton, NB. This year was no exception!
As you may remember, my father passed away last August. Mom and I had decided to hold TubaFest this year in his honour, and was I ever happy that we did! Our clinicians included Lance Nagels (tuba) from Quebec City as well as Sotto Voce, an excellent tuba quartet consisting of Demondrae Thurman, Mark Carlson, Nat McInstosh and Mike Forbes. A tuba quartet is formed of two euphoniums (which look like small tubas) and two tubas. We had 29 participants from Newfoundland, PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Maine and New Hampshire.
Thursday night our clinicians were to arrive… The members of Sotto Voce flew into Bangor, Maine, where they rented a van and drove up. We got a call from them on Thursday that one member had been delayed, and the tuba of another member had not managed to catch the same flight as him… We were supposed to have a lobster supper that night, but their arrival in Fredericton was delayed until 3am! No lobster that night! We did meet up with Lance and Jean Sutherland (piano accompanist) for a fancy dinner at Pizza Delight on Thursday night. It was great to meet up with them again as they have been part of the TubaFest since the beginning.
Friday was our first full day of the festival. Kim (my husband) ran the registration table. It was great to see so many familiar faces! Of the 29 people registered, 25 had attended TubaFest in previous years. Lance got the workshops started and the guys from Sotto Voce arrived a little later, still looking tired!
So what do you do at a tuba festival? Well, we had a large ensemble in which all of the participants played. It is quite a sight to see 29 tubas and euphoniums on the stage! We also had small ensembles formed of about 7 people each. These groups worked with the clinicians on various pieces. To round out the activities, we had a masterclass and workshop.
During our dinner break we took the guys from Sotto Voce over to my mom’s house to have the lobster feast that we had planned for Thursday night. It was a lot of fun to see their reactions to all the cooked lobsters in the kitchen! We also treated them to local Picaroons beer. The guys attacked the lobster with vigour! If you look at the photo, you will notice that the salad in the middle of the table is untouched! Lobster is always enjoyable, but is particularly wonderful with those who do not have a chance to have it often!
Feeling incredibly satiated, we headed back over to Memorial Hall for an informal in-house concert. Many of our registrants come from Maine. Several of them have formed an ensemble that often opens our Friday evening concerts with the national anthems from both Canada and the US. Several somewhat impromptu performances also occurred. Some of Sotto Voce’s music had been left in their dorm rooms, so while Mike went back to get it Demondrae played a fabulous solo and Lance, Demondrae and Mark teamed up to read through a trio. Sotto Voce also performed a few pieces once they all had their music. The small ensembles had a final reheasal for the day, followed by an open rehearsal by Sotto Voce. It was interesting watching a professional ensemble rehearsing.
Saturday was another wonderful day with more rehearsals, another masterclass and a meeting about the continuation of TubaFest. What with dad not being around anymore to run it, we were not sure if it would continue. There was a lot of interest, so I see this festival continuing for a long time to come!
In the evening we had our final concert commemorating my father. Lance and Jean performed Mahler’s “Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen,” a favourite of both of my parents. Sotto Voce followed up with two pieces, the second of which was written by Mike Forbes and was their premier of the work. The small ensembles performed with the climax of the concert being the large ensemble, which ended the concert with Ave Maria, also dedicated to my father. It was a lovely concert!
All in all, it was a wonderful year! I look forward to seeing how things develop over the years and what the festival becomes as time goes on! With all the interest shown, I feel quite confident that it will be around for years to come!