Tucson, AZ---With hopeful signs of recovery and the slow lifting of gathering restrictions, the Tucson Pops Orchestra Board of Directors has voted to forego their spring season of concerts in Reid Park and to resume “Music Under the Stars™ in the fall. “Ensuring the safety of our musicians and our wonderful audience members is our first priority” said Pops Executive Director Jonathon Crider. “If things keep moving in the right direction, we should be ready for a much needed month of music in September, returning to our Sunday evening schedule of concerts”.
The Beat Goes On
Although the Orchestra has not been able to perform in public, they have not been idle. With the help of PPP grants and support from local sponsors including the Dickson Team at Nova Home Loans the Pops has over the past year produced some outstanding COVID-safe virtual offerings. The latest of these outstanding performances currently in the works is the soundtrack from the iconic Sound of Music. Sponsored by Long Realty Companies, featuring over 40 Tucson Pops musicians and edited by Concertmaster Michael Fan, the production is scheduled for digital release on May 9th.
Outgoing Executive Director Frances Bettinger has led the Tucson Pops on a steady course over the past 5 years through good times and sad times, with her expert leadership, the Pops has stayed strong. She will take a seat on the Board and continue to support the organization that is near and dear to her heart. “Working with the Tucson Pops has and some of the best talents in the southwest to bring outstanding free concerts to the public - what could be better than that? It has truly been a labor of love” said Bettinger. Dr. Jonathan Scott Crider joins the Pops as ED after a six-month transition period as Co-Executive Director with outgoing ED Bettinger. He remains President and CEO of ExRel Consulting where he has worked with many of the premiere arts organizations in Tucson including the Fox Tucson Theatre, Tucson Jazz Festival, and Arts Express among others. His previous engagements include time at AZ Arts at UA, the Community Food Bank of Southern AZ, and AZ Theatre Company. He has multiple degrees from the UA’s School of Theatre Film and Television as well as a doctorate in Business Management and Organizational Leadership.
As it has been a difficult year for all performing arts organizations and the Tucson Pops is no exception. Appeals for support from the community continue to help sustain their efforts until live performance is possible. Grant application efforts are ongoing as well. "We continue to do our best to connect with our community in the best ways possible until we can safely gather together publicly. Thank you to our loyal supporters who've continued to stand by us, We hope they continue to help us get through this final chapter and back to Music under the Stars™ later this year”, said Crider.
The Great Tradition of the Tucson Pops Orchestra
When Georges DeMeester gathered a group of musicians to form the Tucson Pops Orchestra 68 years ago, their common goal was to share their love of music with the public – to make great music accessible to everyone at the free concerts they performed. They utilized whatever spaces were available including at various times, the VA Hospital, a hotel on Miracle Mile, at a variety of radio stations, at Himmel Park and Reid Park where they played on the back of a flatbed truck. Little did they imagine then that the Orchestra would continue to perform in an outdoor performance center at Reid Park named after their founder all these many years later.
When Georges retired in 1973, he passed the baton to Charles “Bucky” Steele who increased the size of the orchestra throughout his tenure until 1997. Since then, Maestro László Veres has led this prestigious group of musicians, predominantly Tucson Symphony players, that perform with the Pops during their off season.. For additional information visit www.tucsonpops.org.