“Octubafest” to celebrate the best of the baritones


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Ayron Rutan, Staff Writer

Throughout the month of October Grand Valley State University’s Music, Theatre, and Dance (MTD) Department will hold their “Octubafest” concert series.

Beginning with a performance at the Sherman van Solkema Recital Hall in the Haas Center for Performing Arts on Oct. 13 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., “Octubafest” is meant to highlight and celebrate the tuba and euphonium as solo and chamber music instruments. 

GVSU Associate Professor of Music, Paul Carlson, organized the series and said it was created to not only celebrate the instruments but also to welcome students into the fall semester. 

He said he drew his inspiration for “Octubafest” from a tradition originating from an entirely different state. 

“Harvey Phillips was the tuba professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana for many years and Octubafest was his brainchild,” Carlson said. “I completed my doctorate of music from Indiana where I studied with Mr. Phillips’ successor, Dan Perantoni, who has kept this tradition alive. These concerts are wonderful events for our community as well as wonderful teaching moments for the GVSU tuba and euphonium studio.”

Carlson said he is excited for the series to begin, as it will mark a return to live music for the program and feature a number of GVSU students.

“My students and I missed preparing and presenting these concerts last year and we’re glad we are getting to have them this year,” Carlson said. “Every member of the tuba and euphonium studio will be featured as a soloist and we have two tuba quartets that will be playing also. Many of the student soloists are collaborating with the collaborative piano class. It is very cool to see students preparing and performing together.” 

Mike Ring, a junior majoring in Music Education, plays tuba in the Wind Symphony, the Symphonic Orchestra, the Marching and Pep Bands, and bass trombone in the Jazz Band. 

Ring said he is looking forward to “Octubafest” and is excited for the variety of music he will be performing, including Patrick Sheridan’s arrangement of “Liebeslied,” and “Stuff” by James Grant. 

He said this concert series will be an important one, as it will allow him and other tuba players to spread their wings and showcase their talents. 

“I love Octubafest because it gives (tuba players), who are usually stuck playing ‘oompahs’ or counting rests until we play just a few notes and then rest again, an opportunity to express our own musicality and give our instruments a voice that I don’t believe many other people know that we have,” Ring said. 

Autumn Repshas, a fourth-year music education student and tuba player, will be performing as both a soloist and a member of a quartet. 

Similar to Carlson, Repshas is excited to be able to share live music with the Laker community once again, in what will be her final “Octubafest.”

“Thanks to the pandemic, it’s been a while since some of us have performed for a live audience,” Resphas said. “I’m so thankful that I get to perform this year in what will be my last Octubafest, but I am definitely nervous. Aside from the usual, I truly hope we all stay healthy and are able to be there and show off our hard work — knock on wood.”

Repshas agrees with Ring, and said that she is looking forward to sharing with people just how talented and special tuba players are, despite the common public perception that they are merely background instruments. 

“I think this event is special because it’s not very often that you get to hear music like this,” Repshas said. “Most people don’t think of our instruments as conventionally beautiful-sounding… Octubafest is an opportunity for us to show that our instruments are capable of great diversity, far beyond what is heard in the usual tuba part.”

There will be a second “Octubafest” concert held on Oct 15. 

More information on the series, including COVID-19 guidelines for attendees, can be found on the MTD Department’s webpage.