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Annual Veterans Day concert has been a Tucson tradition for 36 years

Annual Veterans Day concert has been a Tucson tradition for 36 years

When the pandemic canceled last year’s Arizona Symphonic Winds Veterans Day concert, László Veres took matters into his own hands.

He wasn’t about to pause what has become a Tucson tradition for nearly four decades — a patriotic concert to honor veterans of all wars.

So Veres, a clarinetist and the Winds founder/music director, tapped his wife Frances, who played violin for more than 35 years for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, to accompany him on piano as the pair played a front-yard Veterans Day concert for their neighbors.

“And the neighbors showed up. We had about 40, 50 people here across the street with masks on,” said Veres, who teamed up with his wife again last December to play a short holiday concert. For that one, they had their neighbors sing Christmas carols.

For Veterans Day 2021 on Thursday, Nov. 11, Veres is getting the band back together and will once again don his Sousa-style uniform when he takes the podium for the Winds 36th annual Veterans Day concert.

The concert of patriotic odes and anthems is personal for the 84-year-old Veres, who was drafted into the U.S. Army not long after he immigrated to the States from his native Hungary at age 19.

Veres served two years including in Germany on the border of the former East Germany and at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, where he became a U.S. citizen.

This year’s “A Musical Tribute to Our Veterans, Past and Present” concert will feature guitarist Ryan Chen performing “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” (Memories of the Alhambra) by 19th century Spanish composer Francisco Tárrega. The song has been co-opted by several major films including the Academy Award-winning 1984 film “The Killing Fields” and the 2004 com-dram “Sideways.”

Chen, an award-winning classical guitarist, is studying optical sciences and engineering at the University of Arizona, where he is minoring in music with an emphasis in classical guitar.

Also on Thursday’s program: Tucson composer Bob Atwell’s “Beinn Dearg,” the overture to Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” Richard Meyer’s jubilant “American Rhapsody” and several patriotic standards including “Victory At Sea,” Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “America the Beautiful” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

The concert begins at 2 p.m. at Catalina Foothills High School Auditorium, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive, and admission is free, although donations will be accepted to support the orchestra.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at On Twitter @Starburch

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