Octubafest highlights the tuba
Octubafest—a concert series dedicated to showcasing tuba and euphonium talent—will take place Oct. 22 through 25 in the Sherman Van Solkema Recital Hall in the Performing Arts Center. The first three recitals are composed of solos, and the fourth showcases different small ensembles.
This is Octubafest’s second year at Grand Valley State University under the direction of Paul Carlson.
Carlson brought the festival to GVSU after his own experiences with it. As a doctoral student, Carlson played in Octubafest at Indiana University, where it originated, and also at the University of New Mexico, where he completed his master’s degree.
“The idea of Octubafest came from the late Harvey Phillips, one of the greatest tubists ever and advocate of all things tuba,” he said. “His idea was to pay homage to his teacher, Bill Bell, who was one of the first major tuba teachers of this country.”
The whole idea behind Octubfest is to celebrate how far the tuba and euphonium have come as solo and chamber instruments. In addition to that, it also allows students to prepare for future performances at GVSU and in their careers.
This will be GVSU student Julia Bovee’s second year playing the euphonium. “Last year was our first year celebrating Octubafest at (GVSU), and this year we are prepared to make it even better than the last,” Bovee said.
To improve the Octubafest experience this year, not only has the concert series doubled, but the final performance will be full of ensembles.
Many people have heard them play at halftime at football games or in the recital halls, but few have heard the tuba or euphonium separate from a group. During Octubafest, these members will be in the spotlight instead of blending in.
“It’s an opportunity to spread the knowledge that the tuba is capable of much more than playing ‘oompahs,’” Carlson said. “The tuba is actually very young for a classical instrument. It continues to grow in its virtuosity, and it’s great to see a contribution to its performance history right here at GVSU.”
Carlson was taught the importance of this event and told to spread the tradition, so he began last year by bringing it here. He is implementing this tradition with his students just like his professors did to him.
Faculty and students have invested time and effort to ensure the event keeps improving. One year at a time, Carlson hopes that Octubafest will become a tradition at GVSU just like at other schools around the country.