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Jason Roland Smith playing the tuba. (Provided via Jason Roland Smith)

Octubafest to celebrate tubas and euphoniums throughout ‘Octoba’

Although the beginning of fall means cooler weather, pumpkin spice lattes and holiday celebrations, it also marks the beginning of the most important month of the year for tuba and euphonium players around the country: “Octuba.”

Jason Roland Smith, a professor of tuba and euphonium at Ohio University, heads this year’s Octubafest Faculty Recital at Glidden Recital Hall on Sunday. Along with Smith, the recital will also feature Florence Mak and Jeremy Vigil on the piano and Michael Tobar on the accordion.

Smith’s recital will include pieces such as Fantasia a Due,” by Alfred Reed, along with works by other composers such as Handel, Rolf Wilhem, Libby Larsen and Etienne Crausaz.

Smith began playing the tuba in high school, later receiving his masters and then obtaining his doctorate. He has been teaching tuba at OU since 1999. 

The recital kicks off OU’s 21st celebration of Octubafest, a month-long celebration of the tuba and euphonium. Octubafest was started in 1971 by Harvey Phillips, who is regarded as the father of the tuba, Smith said. 

“In an effort to kind of help get attention to the tuba and give his students an opportunity to perform, he started Octubafest,” Smith said.

The month-long celebrations at OU this year include guest artist Steven Darling, the faculty low brass trio, 3Basso, the tuba and euphonium ensemble, trombone choir and OhioBrass, OU’s faculty artist brass quintet. 

“I’d feel guilty if I didn't have an Octubafest,” Smith said.

The event is greatly important to both professors and students alike in the recognition of those who study and play the instrument.

“I think it's a great way for tuba and euphonium to kind of have their own little thing in the School of Music,”  Nathan Wise, a senior studying music education, said, “Because we often are kind of separated as low brass players. We don't fall like the typical realm of ideas.”

Wise will be playing euphonium in a chamber ensemble as well as with the tuba and euphonium ensembles. He will also be conducting the song “Come, Sweet Death”, that will be performed by the tuba and trombone choir. The song is traditionally played at the end of the Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association convention by an ensemble of convention members. It is a tradition in the low brass world, Wise said.

Many of the tuba and euphonium students are fond of Octubafest as it is a time to recognize their instruments.

“I think it's sweet, lots of good tuba stuff going on,”  Thomas Swisher, a sophomore studying music education and music performance, said. “Just listening to great players from all over coming down to play.”  

Others think it is a good way of acknowledging an instrument that doesn’t receive a lot of recognition. 

“A lot of people just think tubas go, bum, bum, bum, bum, but we can do some other stuff too,”  Alex Healey, a  junior studying music education, said. “And it's a cool opportunity to show that off.”


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