Octubafest fills Recital Hall with dulcet tones

November 4, 2010

by Amber Guyotte, Staff Reporter

The sounds of low brass musical instruments filled the Recital Hall in Howard Auditorium, Center for the Performing Arts Sunday night as The Trom-uba-phone Experience performed a concert for the sixth annual Octubafest.

Octubafest is a nationwide tradition for colleges to play tuba-euphonium ensemble concerts during the last week of October. Tech’s performance group, recently named The Trom-uba-phone Experience, consists of Tech students along with five students from other schools, including Bossier Parish Community College, Centenary College and Ruston High School. The musicians performed pieces from the Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic and 20th century periods on trombones, tubas and euphoniums.

Joe Alexander, an associate professor of music and head of music theory/composition and low brass, said he formed the group 10 years ago, but it did not perform concerts until six years ago. He also said the group helps students improve their musical ability while having fun.

“You have the most interesting parts, and all of the parts are necessary,” Alexander said. “You’re playing melodic lines that interval with the beat. Generally the pieces are four parts, so there are four melodies going on at one given time. From a teaching perspective, I think because the parts are a little harder, more challenging and more fun, it helps the individual students develop into better musicians.”

Alexander said the non-Tech students got involved with the group through his former students and a connection with Ruston High School.

He said the concert reflects culture through the musical time periods represented in the performance.

“Culture is good for anybody,” Alexander said. “It is fun and entertaining, but it also helps music students learn music for the time periods, which exposes the audience to earlier music from different time periods. The audience gets a chance to hear a little bit of everything. It’s educational from a historical perspective and entertaining. There’s also the uniqueness of the sounds put together.”

William Willoughby, associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts, has been attending Octubafest at Tech since its debut six years ago.

“I try to support the music department and Joe Alexander,” Willoughby said. “It’s always a good time. I enjoyed it because, in the past, the performances have been mostly original pieces. This year it ranged from ‘Amazing Grace’ to pieces from the 1960s specifically for tuba. It was a treat to hear music that ranges from popular to obscure.”

Kevin Keeler, a freshman music education-instrumental major, said he attended the concert to support friends and listen to good music.

“Some of it isn’t something I personally enjoy listening to, but it was well arranged,” Keeler said. “Overall, I enjoyed listening to it very much. I really enjoyed the soloists in ‘Yesterday’ (by John Lennon and Paul McCartney). Their tones and expressions in the way they put forward the sounds were very good.” 

He also said the performance represents the purpose of music in comparison to unspoken words. “It’s something you have to hear to fully enjoy,” Keeler said. “It’s not something you can put into words. That’s what I enjoy about music. What you can’t express in words can be expressed by music.”

E-mail comments to ang017@latech.edu.