Tucson, AZ – The Tucson Pops Orchestra celebrates its 68th fall season with a new conductor and exciting new programming.  Beginning on Sunday, September 11, Khris Dodge, a highly respected musician and educator, who has devoted more than 30 years to the Tucson arts community, will conduct his first concert as music director of the Tucson Pops Orchestra.  “As I take the podium, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Maestro Emeritus, László Veres for cultivating and leading such an exceptional ensemble, The Tucson Pops Orchestra, for the past 26 years.  I am honored to be leading this group and look forward to the memories we will create together for many years to come”, said Dodge. Each of the three fall concerts will feature music and guest talent to best showcase a specific theme, something that inspires Maestro Dodge.  “It helps my creative process to focus on a theme that I can build a show around – with all the great talent resources we have in Southern Arizona, the combinations are endless and exciting”. 

All concerts begin at 7pm at DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center at Reid Park.



Sunday, September 11 - Celebrate Tucson!  Guest Artist: Mindy Ronstadt

The inaugural launch of what is planned to be an annual celebration of the southwest, this concert will feature a beautiful blend of music of the Old West, Mexican heritage, as well as contemporary pieces that represent Tucson’s uniqueness including the iconic tunes made famous by Tucson’s own Linda Ronstadt. Her niece Mindy will take us on a musical tour of favorites.  As a special up- close look at the Old West, the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum will  provide a display of vintage horse wagons

Mindy Ronstadt was born and raised in Tucson. She grew up singing, surrounded by an extended family of singers, songwriters, and musicians. Most folks are familiar with her aunt, singer Linda Ronstadt, but Mindy learned to sing harmonies from her dad, Peter. After high school, she traveled for a year with Up With People before settling in her hometown. Over the years, she’s had the great fortune to perform with many musicians and groups and is thrilled to add the Tucson Pops to her list.

Sunday, September 18 - The Classics Concert: Classical Music, Classic Rock and Roll, and Classic Cars!   Special Guest Artist: Not Fade Away (National Touring Classic Rock Band)

What could be better than Music Under the Stars™ featuring great Classical Music coupled with Rock and Roll Classics from the 50's and 60's?  How about some vintage classic cars  courtesy of the Rotary Clubs of Tucson? This concert turns the “classics” concept on its head and should make for a fun and delightful evening and is sure to get everyone dancing!  Special guests include the national touring act, Not Fade Away.  This group has taken their spin on classics from Buddy Holley to Ritchie Valens across the country. They are looking forward to their collaboration with the Tucson Pops.

Sunday, September 25 - The Tucson Pops Night of Jazz!  Special Guests:  Jeffrey Haskell and Katherine Byrnes and featuring Gabriel Ayala

 The true American music art form is Jazz.  The Tucson Pops orchestra will celebrate jazz in its many forms.  From what may be the first Pops "Jazzer" - JS Bach, to George Gershwin, to original works, to timeless classics -- this concert will have a little bit of something for everyone.  Special Guests include Jeffery Haskell and Katherine Byrnes who have been making smiles and warming hearts with their musical collaborations for years, and guitar phenom, Gabriel Ayala with an original work.

Katherine Byrnes is so very excited to be a part of Khris Dodge’s first Pops Orchestra season! Katherine is an award-winning vocalist, director and concert producer based in Tucson, AZ. She is the sell-out headliner of KDE’s "Tapestry: The Album", a show honoring Carole King, and "Piece Of My Heart", her tribute to Janis Joplin. Katherine has toured China as the lead vocalist for Art.if.act Dance Project's "Great American Dance Tour", and all across Europe and the US as a harmony singer with Blue Note recording artist Amos Lee. When in Tucson, Katherine is the co-director and choreographer of the Gaslight Theatre, and music director of the Gaslight Music Hall. Known for her dynamic range and lyrical connection, Katherine has been a featured soloist with acts as diverse as the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, International cumbia mambo sensation Orkesta Mendoza, and Arizona legends Calexico.

Jeff Haskell received a B.A. in Music Education from West Chester University (PA) and a Masters in Theory from the University of Arizona . While studying for a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Arizona, he served as the second Director of the Tucson Boys Chorus, which continues to perform extensively in the U.S. and abroad. He began his jazz career as a scat-singing boy soprano in Philadelphia. At age 12, he sang and played saxophone professionally, adding the organ a year later. Haskell has won three Los Angeles Emmy Awards for his work on the much celebrated children’s TV program, “Dusty’s Treehouse”, and critics praised his theme and underscore for the “IT Show” for ABC, for which he received a Los Angeles Emmy nomination. Some of his recent Hollywood music include arrangements on two Linda Ronstadt albums, cues for “Dudley Do-Right” and “Fight Club”. “Pastiche Americana”, a composition written for chorus and orchestra, was performed by The Little Orchestra in Lincoln Center. His “Concerto for Jazz Band and Orchestra” debuted with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. And he conducted the world premiere of Billy Taylor’s suite for jazz trio and big band, “Fiesta In Tucson”. A veteran of hundreds of “jingles”, he has orchestrated an album for UP WITH PEOPLE!, he has recorded a legendary synthesizer album for Capitol Records, and has served as music director, arranger and conductor for country music legend Buck Owens, with whom he recently completed an album with the Bakersfield Symphony. He is co-founder and musical director of the Tucson Jazz Orchestra and a senior faculty member in the School of Music & Dance at the University of Arizona.

Gabriel Ayala “An Artist Without Borders” Gabriel Ayala’s work takes many forms, ranging from music to painting to his latest, wearable art.  Gabriel Ayala is a composer and classical guitarist, performing music across several genres including classical, jazz, and Ayala’s signature “jazz – menco.” Ayala is pleased to share his newest healing works, composed during the pandemic quarantine, with his international audience.  A member of the Yaqui people of Southern Arizona, Ayala performs regularly throughout the United States and has appeared at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Museum for the American Indian, ASU Kerr Cultural Center, and Oscar Meyer Theater in Madison, Wisconsin. Gabriel is nationally recognized, and he was the featured performer at the “Festival Internacional de la Guitarra Academica” in Venezuela with performances in Caracas, Guarenas, Guatire and National  Public Television throughout Venezuela. Gabriel has been breaking stereotypes amongst Native and Non-Native people by performing classical music, jazz, flamenco, and new compositions of his own. In 2009, Gabriel was nominated and performed in the Indian Summer Music Awards, Native American Music Awards, Aboriginal People Choice Awards, and the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. He led the Native American Music Awards (NAMMY‘s) with the most nominations and received Best Instrumental CD for “Tango!” Gabriel believes in leading our children in the right direction through his philosophy, “Honor your elders, love your children, and respect your women.“ -Gabriel Ayala


Sponsors for the 2022 concert series include Long Realty Company, Tucson Parks and Recreation Department, Arizona Commission on the Arts, Desert Diamond Casinos and Media Partners, Tucson Lifestyle and Tucson Local Media.

The “Food Truck Roundup” at each Pops Concerts features a variety of Tucson’s best food trucks providing attendees with outstanding picnic fare.  Participating vendors and the complete musical program can be found on the website at www.tucsonpops.org

Who:  Tucson Pops Orchestra Fall 2022 Concert Season

When:  Sundays, Sept 11,18,25 and 26 at 7:00 p.m.

Where:  DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center, Reid Park

What:  Free Music Under the Stars™ for the whole family


About the Tucson Pops Orchestra

Founded by Georges DeMeester in 1955, the Tucson Pops Orchestra has been performing free concerts for the Tucson Public for 68 years.  DeMeester brought a group of musicians together to form the Tucson Pops Orchestra. Their common goal was to share their love of music with the public and to make classics and popular tunes accessible to everyone at the free concerts they performed.  They utilized whatever spaces were available including the VA Hospital, a hotel on Miracle Mile, a variety of radio stations, Himmel Park and Reid Park where they played on the back of a flatbed truck. Little did they imagine then that the Tucson Pops Orchestra would still be performing today in the outdoor performance center in Reid Park named after their founder.  When Georges retired in 1973, he handed off the baton to Charles “Bucky” Steele who increased the number of musicians and was conductor until 1997 when .  László Veres took over and continued to grow the orchestra for 26 years. Khris Dodge became conductor in summer of 2022 of this prestigious group of the top musicians in Southern AZ, whose pleasure it is to continue to provide the highest quality music to the Tucson public for free each season. For additional information visit www.tucsonpops.org or call 520 -722-5853.