There are quite a few uncharitable jokes orchestral musicians tell about the tuba. For example: ‘How do you stop your euphonium from being stolen? Put it in a tuba case.’
But this is the season of good will, and as tuba player Bronwyn Bent describes, a time for tubas to shine.
“Tuba players don't get much of a chance to be at the front of the band, they're usually at the back giving support, so they just enjoy having their moment in the sun,” she says.
That moment is ‘Tuba Christmas’. Since it's beginning in New York 40 years ago, the yuletide gatherings have spread to over 200 cities and have now arrived in New Zealand.
Ms Bent has loved the instrument since childhood after seeing it played by Sweep, the puppet dog in The Sooty Show.
“We had a brass teacher at school who was very elderly and I said I wanted to play the tuba and he said, ‘no, girls can't play the tuba’.
“I had to play the clarinet for a few years then got to claim my right as a tuba player.”
Tuba Christmas has lasted so long and spread so far, says tuba player Mark Close, because the instrument is indeed the essence of Christmas
“You think of Santa as big and cuddly, well there's no instrument that is as big and cuddly as this tuba,” he says.
So if you play this most majestic of brass instruments, on Friday at noon Aotea Square will be the place to be.
Watch the video for the full report.