Music Under the Stars™ Since 1955

The Tucson Pops Orchestra has been sharing the joy of music with audiences of all ages since it was founded in 1955 by world-class violinist Georges DeMeester and his collaborator Ernest Hoffman. The Orchestra began with just 22 musicians and has grown to 50 gifted and talented professional musicians consistently attracting audiences in excess of 8,500 to its Spring and Fall concert series.

Georges DeMeester

Georges DeMeester


In the early days, the “Pops” played between the swimming pool and children’s play area of the Hiway House Hotel on North Oracle Road and then from the back of a flatbed truck at Veterans Administration Hospital park, the Temple of Music and Art, and several motels. The Orchestra’s first real home, a corrugated band shell, was built (date) from a surplus of government materials provided by Davis-Monthan Air Force Base that the Base Commander offered to Gene Reid, legendary Tucson Parks & Recreation Director, in exchange for palm trees to be planted on base. Today, the Pops performs at the renovated “DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center,” which was dedicated in 1987 and named after the Pops’ beloved founder.

After Georges DeMeester retired in 1972, Charles “Bucky” Steele stepped onto the podium as Conductor.   Bucky, a U.S. Navy veteran and well-known Tucson High School music teacher in Tucson, teamed up with his wife, Jeanne, to lead the Pops for the next 25 years. Bucky conducted and Jeanne narrated, beautifully explaining the music to everyone’s delight.

After the Steeles retired in June 1997, László Veres, took over the role of Conductor and Music Director. A widely recognized educator, conductor and musician, László  was born in Budapest, Hungary. His reputation for excellence and his dedication to music has greatly influenced the Pops. Under his leadership, the Pops Orchestra has thrilled audiences with inspired musical programs incorporating many popular national and local guest artists. It has become a focus of the Pops to introduce outstanding, young musicians to the world of professional performance.

Over the years, the Tucson Parks and Recreation Department have been joined by many major sponsors, most recently the Long Realty Companies, and together with the generous support of the Friends of the Pops, they have enabled the Pops to continue to fulfill its mission to provide free, quality entertainment to the Tucson community.The late Lew Murphy presided as Mayor of the City of Tucson and in one of his farewell remarks, Mr. Murphy reflected on one of his city’s cherished traditions: “Nothing, during my tenure in office, has drawn more favorable public reaction than our summer concerts. They were intended to put music in the hearts of our citizens and apparently they have done that…”

The Tucson Pops Orchestra is proud to welcome you to the 2014 Spring Concert series and looks forward to continuing to present its Music Under The Stars to the Tucson community for generations to come.

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