The Tucson Pops Orchestra is performing only two concerts — on Sunday and Sept. 29 — for its fall Music Under the Stars series, and that is sad news for fans.

That’s only two chances to pack a picnic supper, load the family in the car and spread a blanket in the cool grass at the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center to catch some of Tucson’s finest musicians in action.

Why should you skip Sunday Night Football for the next two weeks to watch top-notch musicians and their entertaining conductor László Veres play light classical music? We’re glad you asked. Here’s five reasons why:

1. It’s free. You don’t need a ticket, but you might feel compelled to slip a buck or two to the folks passing the hat during intermission.

2. The music: Guest violinist Christian Howes  brings his love of jazz music to the stage. He’s on tap Sunday to play a number of jazz favorites as well as Scott Routenberg’s Concerto for Jazz Violin and Orchestra.

3. What a beautiful day: If the weather comes along as predicted, we’re looking at a high of 87 Sunday, which means that once the moon settles in we could be sitting in the high 70s with a cool breeze.

4. Who doesn’t love a waltz? You won’t be disappointed by Franz Schubert’s Three Viennese Dances. 

5. Who doesn’t love a march? John Klohr’s  buoyant, almost circus-soundtrack-y “The Billboard March” opens Sunday’s concert, at 7 p.m. at Reid Park, East 22nd Street and South Country Club Road.

On Monday, Howes will hold a workshop on improvisation with string players at Marana’s Mountain View High School.

At 7 p.m. Monday, Howes will perform with the Mountain View band in the school’s auditorium, 3901 W. Linda Vista Blvd. Admission is a $5 suggested donation to the school music program.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642.

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.