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Release: Immediate

(NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: "Leeward" is pronounced "lu-ard.")

UI Collegium Tubum celebrates the season with annual outdoor performance

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Collegium Tubum, an ensemble of instruments in the tuba family, will present its annual outdoor performance of holiday music at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11 on the steps of the UI Old Capitol.

For at least 25 years the Collegium Tubum and its friends among the community's tuba and euphonium players have gathered on the UI Pentacrest on the last day of fall-semester classes to celebrate the season with holiday music under the direction of UI faculty member Robert Yeats.

"Actually, I can't remember exactly how many years we've been doing this," Yeats admits. "If you breathe deeply long enough in the cold air it does something to your brain."

Over the years the ensemble has accumulated 30-40 tuba arrangements of carols and other holiday music, both secular and sacred. The repertoire includes not only familiar Christmas carols and secular songs of the season, but also music from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" and Christmas TV specials by the Chipmunks.

Depending on the weather, from 15 to 30 tubists and euphonium players participate in the performances. Yeats estimates that a cumulative total of 200-300 students and community members have played in the annual events, including some working people who regularly take the day off to join forces with the Collegium Tubum.

To heighten the festive spirit of the event, ensemble members customarily decorate their instruments, and some wear costumes. Yeats, who traditionally leads the ensemble in a Santa Claus suit, says that some tubists have performed with Rudolf antlers and red noses, but they quickly discover how hard it is to play a tuba while wearing a fake nose.

The nature and duration of the event depends a great deal on the weather. Some years frigid temperatures have forced the group to perform in tag-team fashion, with members periodically retreating indoors to warm up and un-freeze their valves. "There's so much metal there that everything gets cold," Yeats explains. "You're wrapped up in 20-30 pounds of metal."

Naturally, Yeats is hoping for one of winter's warmer days this year, but he says that, like the postal service, the Collegium Tubum will deliver regardless of the weather. "If it's too cold, look for us huddling out of the wind on the leeward side of Old Cap'," Yeats said.

The music to be performed will include familiar Christmas carols and other seasonal favorites and, as always, a surprise or two for those hardy enough to show up for the alfresco performance.