Tubas take the spotlight at Octubafest

Professor Chanell Crichlow

Assistant Professor Chanell Crichlow

University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music is celebrating all things “tuba” this month with one guiding word: Octubafest.

The effort is led by new Assistant Professor of Practice in Tuba and Euphonium Chanell Crichlow, a low-brass instrumentalist, composer, performer and educator.

“I wanted to have an Octubafest to showcase the students and their instruments, and to hopefully recruit more tuba and euphonium players,” Crichlow said. “These sort of events can build interest.”

The conservatory has four musicians—Keon MacKay ‘22, Brooke Farrar ‘23, Domenic Jimenez ’22 and Stephen Lambert ’22—who play the tuba and/or the euphonium, which Crichlow describes as a “tenor tuba with the ability to go higher.” 

“We are primarily trying to bring low brass at Pacific out into the limelight,” Jimenez said. “There are a lot of people who look at tubas, euphoniums and trombones as the background. We have a lot more than what meets the eye.”

Tuba player Dominec Jimenez

Dominec Jimenez '22 is one of the tuba players who will be featured in Octubafest.

The concept of Octubafest began in 1972 at Indiana University. The Conservatory’s version has three free events open to the public.

The first Octubafest recital will take place Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall on the Stockton Campus.

At 11 a.m. the same day, there will be a Virtual Master Class with award-winning British player and composer Theon Cross, via Zoom, in the Rehearsal Hall. Cross, a key contributor to London’s thriving jazz scene, will kick off the class with a short performance and introduction, followed by solo excerpts by Conservatory students. “He is a bad cat from London and very creative,” Crichlow said.

Octubafest will conclude with a Brass Pop Hour Oct. 28 from noon to1 the lobby of the Don and Karen DeRosa University Center. The concert will feature the Pacific Brass Society, a tuba-euphonium quartet and a horn quartet. The concert will include versions of pop songs from the likes of Bruno Mars, Lil Nas X and Childish Gambino. 

Crichlow described what she called “the moment” that made the tuba her instrument of choice when she was growing up. “I gravitated to the tuba because of its sound. I had never heard anything like it,” she said. “It was very deep, resonate and beautiful.”

Tubas also are expensive—from $5,000 to $15,000, with many good tubas costing in between. 

“But here at Pacific, we have beautiful new instruments because of donor generosity,” Crichlow said. “One of the first things the Conservatory did with the money was to buy the top grade of euphonium and tuba. It makes a big difference.”