It’s a holiday weekend, the official start of summer and the perfect excuse to kick off your flip-flops, lay a blanket in the lawn and catch some of Tucson’s finest musicians, professionals and volunteers, performing some pretty terrific music under the stars.

The Arizona Symphonic Winds and Tucson Pops Orchestra, both under the baton of conductor László Veres, will perform this weekend as their spring seasons reach the halfway point. Both perform through the first weekend in June.

The volunteer Winds on Saturday will perform Aaron Copland’s über patriotic “Lincoln Portrait,” a piece that incorporates bits of Abraham Lincoln’s historic “Gettysburg Address.” Tucson tenor Grayson Hirst, a voice professor at the University of Arizona, will narrate. His student, soprano Lindsey McHugh,  will join the Winds for a trio of arias.

“He’s marvelous,” Veres said of Hirst, adding, “I happen to love (McHugh’s) voice.”

The concert begins at 7 p.m. Saturday at Udall Park on East Tanque Verde Road.

On Sunday, Veres’ professional Tucson Pops will remember Dave Sitton, the man that Veres calls “Mr. Pops.”

“To me he was Mr. Pops,” Veres said. “I really thought that Pops was his everything until I went to the memorial (service last August) and realized he was involved in everything. But to him, Pops was the thing. Total dedication to the organization. This man was incredible.”

Sitton, who died Aug. 12, presided over the Pops board of directors 30 years, Veres said. Every Memorial Day, he would recite a speech from the late radio personality Paul Harvey.

During Sunday’s concert, Tucson baritone Jack Neubeck will present Harvey’s “We Mutually Pledge,” which Sitton performed at last year’s Memorial Day concert. The orchestra, many of them moonlighting from the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, will then perform John Williams’ “Hymn to the Fallen.”

“We decided we should continue with that tradition of his,” Veres said.

The performance begins at 7 p.m. Sunday at the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center at Reid Park.

Admission to both is free.

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

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.