Musician Spotlight - Forrest Byram, Tuba

Forrest started on the horn when he was eight, but the teacher quickly moved him to the tuba. “I've never been sure  if it was because I was such a hideous horn student, or if it was because I was a big kid,” he said. “I suspect the latter.”

Forrest has been a member of the Santa Cruz Symphony since 1984 and has seen many changes. “Fortunately, we have been able to retain many of our excellent local musicians. They are what truly puts the ‘Santa Cruz’ in the Santa Cruz Symphony, and like the Solera system of making great sherry, they impart their flavor to us.”

When asked what instrument he would play if not the tuba, “Without hesitation, I can say cello. The repertoire is so wonderful and its voice is so magnificent,” said Forrest. “When I was young, I thought I understood Mozart's quartets, but I realize now how much deeper they are than I can truly grasp. As a tubist, I will never get to explore those depths. Like many tuba players and trombonists, I try to play the Bach cello suites. For years I have struggled with the sarabande in the fifth suite. One day I felt sure I had it, but it slipped away as soon as I finished playing. It is a moment I have never forgotten.”

Playing a tuba is not easy. “Rewards often come from simple things, like playing a soft note with a clean entrance and having it fall right in tune with the others.” In 1992 Forrest performed the Vaughn Williams Tuba Concerto with the Symphony. He is also the orchestra’s representative for the Musicians Union.

Outside of music, Forrest loves walking. “A mountain hike is one of life's great pleasures.”