Green With Culinary Delight
2 to 5 p.m., Sunday, March 11
247 N. Fourth Ave.
For the fourth straight year, a cook-off to raise funds for Tucson's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival will serve up a bit of Ireland to Southern Arizonans. But this year, it's happening at a new location.
The 2012 Great Irish Cook-Off will be held at O'Malley's on Fourth, as a result of the event's growing popularity, said parade chairwoman Deborah Kelly. The cook-off previously was held on the patio of Maynards Market and Kitchen.
Four traditional Irish staples make up the categories in which a number of local restaurants and foodies will compete: corned beef and cabbage; stew; soda bread; and Irish desserts, a broad category that ranges from Irish lace cookies to bread pudding.
Among the contestants at this year's cook-off will be chefs from Kingfisher Bar and Grill, Hotel Congress' Cup Café, Café à la C'Art, Frankie's South Philly Cheesesteaks and Sandwiches, and The Parish Gastropub.
As in previous years, the audience will choose the winners. Attendees will be given ballots to mark up as they taste-test the foods from each booth. Ballots will be counted at 4:30 p.m., which gives attendees more than two hours to sample the cook-off entries and enjoy the tunes of Celtic musician Margy Eller, who will perform throughout the event.
"We expect the event to be a very fast and fulfilling two hours," Kelly said.
Winners will receive trophies and a featured slot in the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 17.
Admission is $10, which helps support the St. Patrick's Day activities. —D.M.
One Woman's Saga
A Woman of Independent Means
8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, March 9 and 10; 3 p.m., Sunday, March 11
1400 N. First Ave.
Emmy Award-winning actress Susan Clark returns to Tucson this weekend to bring to life A Woman of Independent Means.
The one-person play began as a 1978 novel by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, which was inspired by Hailey's grandmother. Hailey and her playwright husband, Oliver Hailey, adapted it for the stage in 1983. The story is told through letters written by Hailey's grandmother.
"What I like about the character is that it encompasses a woman's life from the age of 10 to the age of 80," Clark said.
Originally from Canada, Clark began her career onstage and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She won an Emmy Award for her role in the 1975 TV movie Babe, in which she played Olympic gold medalist Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Clark said she was last in Tucson for an episode of the 1980s sitcom Webster that was shot at Tanque Verde Ranch.
Clark said the title of the Hailey play comes from an expression that refers to a woman who has inherited her wealth, owns property and has stature in the community.
Throughout the performance, the audience will recognize mothers, daughters, grandmothers, neighbors, wives and aunts, she said. The show is "funny, and it's sad, and you're going to laugh and cry and hopefully have a great time."
Clark said there's always something to learn in theater, because "you learn to listen to the audience."
The audience experiences "an emotional, intellectual ride with someone's life," Clark said. "This is a place where there's nothing to buy except a good time. There's no product. You don't go home with anything except your experience and how you feel."
Tickets are $30. —M.W.
Not Your Typical Harpist
3 p.m., Saturday, March 10
Rincon Congregational Church
122 N. Craycroft Road
Christine Vivona isn't a typical harpist. In addition to performing classical music, she plays jazz, blues and rock.
"I love playing jazz standards and playing pieces that people don't think of being connected with harp," she said. "You can play chromatic music, but it's hard to play jazz on the harp because of the pedals. That's why there just aren't that many jazz harpists."
Vivona grew up in New York and started playing the harp at the age of 11, right after her older sister stopped.
"It just sort of happened since we had the harp in the house," she said. "So my father jumped on the opportunity, bought the harp, and I was playing."
For inspiration, Vivona listens to Diana Krall, Benny Carter and harpist Nancy Allen. The latter was one of her teachers at Julliard.
"She's phenomenal and very much a quiet player, meaning there's not a lot of buzzing, and not a lot of pedal noise," Vivona said.
Vivona completed her undergraduate degree in music at the UA, went to Julliard for her master's degree, and came back to Arizona for her doctorate in 1986, she said. Vivona also taught harp at Arizona State University for nine years.
With 38 years of experience, Vivona also performs in concerts with her family. One of her sons is a drummer, and another is a bassist. Her husband plays jazz piano and trombone.
On Saturday, Vivona will play in a harp trio. The other two harpists are students from a harp camp she holds each June. The program includes some Vivaldi, Santana's "Oye Como Va" and the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da."
Admission is $15, or free for those 18 and younger, and students with an ID. —M.W.
Finishing With a Flourish
34th Annual AzJazz Week
7:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday, March 8 and 9
1017 E. Olive Road
The UA School of Music's annual AzJazz Week is coming to a close with a flourish of talent.
The John Denman Memorial Concert features visiting artist Dave Bennett. Backing him will be the Jeff Haskell Trio, with UA Studio Jazz Ensemble director Jeff Haskell on piano, Jack Wood on bass and Fred Hayes on drums.
Denman taught at the University of Arizona from 1976 to 1984 after emigrating from his native England. He was the principal clarinetist at the Tucson Symphony Orchestra until 1999, two years before his death.
According to Haskell, Denman was a "musician's musician."
"He called himself a 'crossover' artist, because he was successful both in classical and jazz styles," Haskell said.
Bennett, 27, a clarinet prodigy at age 14, was self-taught, which is rare in clarinet circles because of the degree of difficulty.
Friday's concert features jazz legend Sue Raney, a songstress who's been wowing jazz musicians and fans for six decades.
"Not everybody in the public knows her name, but everyone in the musical community knows her," Haskell said. That's not an overstatement: During her career, she's shared the stage with Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Johnny Carson and Julie Andrews.
Raney will sing with both the UA Studio Jazz Ensemble and the Arizona Symphony Orchestra, giving her backing that's going to be "all Hollywood," Haskell said.
Tickets for Thursday's concert are $5 to $9. Tickets for Friday are $10 to $15. —D.M.