Caleb Chambers wasn’t born with a tuba in his hand, but listening to his masterful playing, you may believe he was.
The Legacy senior has always been musically inclined. He played the piano for seven years, then switched to the low brass section and started studying the tuba. Although he’s been playing the instrument for just six years, he’s already established himself as a major talent.
His private teacher, Dr. Corey Rom, describes Caleb as “a student of quiet determination. He doesn’t always talk much but he’s thoughtful and thorough in his work.” Because of his natural ability and his willingness to work hard, Dr. Rom suggested that Caleb enter the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival.
The festival — held annually in Twin Lakes, Michigan, and drawing musicians from all over the world — is considered the most prestigious low brass competition in the United States. Caleb was one of only six student semifinalists to compete for the top prize. He was not only the youngest competitor in his division, but also the only one still in high school.
Caleb poured hundreds of precious hours into preparing for the competition, practicing the required music daily for the six months leading up to the event. And all of his diligence was rewarded in the best way imaginable: Caleb brought home the gold medal in the student division.
In the semifinals, he played two pieces over two days before a blind panel of judges. Only three student competitors advanced to the finals, when they played before an audience and a panel of judges. Caleb overcame several obstacles to bring home the top prize. During his first piece in the first round, for example, a valve stuck on his instrument — a nightmare for any tubist. Though he was shaken after that mishap, Caleb drew on the confidence and skills he had developed over the years with the help of his band directors and private-lesson teachers and came out on top.
Caleb says the entire festival was an educational experience. During the four-day event, he participated in workshops and master classes. He learned from college professors and attended recitals and performances by world-class euphonium players and tubists. Listening to other musicians can be the best way to improve your own play, he says. He matured as a player and learned the value of perseverance.
The road to participating in the Falcone, which honors the memory of Leonard Falcone, a musician whose prestigious solo and pedagogical career lasted for almost three-quarters of the last century, was a long one, both literally and figuratively. Caleb was selected from anonymous recording submissions to a panel of adjudicators consisting of professors and international performers. Then, to get to the event, he and his family made the 17-hour-long drive to Michigan: As his mom, Nancey, puts it, “Tubas don’t fly well . . .”
Caleb’s distinctions are not limited to the Falcone win. He was selected first chair tuba for the ATSSB All-State Symphonic Band twice and for the TPSMEA All-State Band four times. Last year, he received the John Philip Sousa Band Award, which recognizes superior musicianship and outstanding dedication. It’s the most prestigious award a high school band student can earn. Andy Murphy, Legacy’s Director of Bands shared, “It’s been an honor to teach and watch this young man grow into a fine musician.”
Caleb recently took up the bass trombone because, he says, he “just wanted to try something different.” Playing that instrument meant he could join the LCA Jazz Band. It’s especially enjoyable, he says: “I can play really loud.”
To play any instrument takes an interest in it. To play an instrument well — that takes passion. And Caleb is passionate about music. Although he doesn’t plan to be a professional musician (right now he has his sights set on engineering), he says he’ll continue to play for the sheer joy of it.
Legacy Christian Academy Fine Arts inspires students to discover, develop, and express their creative talents for the glory of God, while fostering a lifelong appreciation of the arts. For the latest information on Legacy fine arts, subscribe today. For more information on Legacy, visit our admissions page.