SONORAN SAMBA. The Tucson Symphony Orchestra opens the millennium season with Then Something Happened.
Subtitled "A Languid Dance," this latest masterwork by Daniel Asia is described as "gentle in nature, emphasizing the peaceful alternation of sixteenth and eighth notes."
Asia attributes the title to a book by Joseph Heller that shares similar themes, and says his composition "might best be thought of as a hybrid dance, one that combines a gentle swaying motion, with a hint of the exotic; perhaps a Tucsonan samba." (See this week's Arts section for details.)
Performances are 8 tonight and tomorrow in the TCC Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets range from $10.75 to $31, and are available at the TSO box office, Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling 882-8585.
NORTHWEST STILL LIFE. Tohono Chul Park takes a lively look at the dearly departed with El Diá de los Muertos: Traditions, Offerings and Contemporary Expressions.
The Mexican holiday, when families gather at cemeteries to fondly recall their loved ones, also shares a delightful element of snubbing -- or at least smirking at -- the grim reaper.
That spirit is alive and well at Tohono Chul. The ongoing celebration includes A Gift for Abuelita, a gallery exhibit featuring cast paper illustrations by Robert Chapman. There will also be a community altar, and visitors are encouraged to bring personal offerings -- a photo, flowers, or other mementos -- honoring a deceased love one.
The celebration runs through November 14, with a special reception tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. in Tohono Chul Park, 7366 Paseo del Norte. Gallery hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. A $2 donation is suggested. For information, call 575-8468.
TAG TEAM TALENT. Rising stars Eric Bibb and Alvin Youngblood Hart bring their biting, primal sound to town for the Folk Blues Summit.
They're among a new wave of African-American acoustic musicians revisiting the rich territory of Southern folk, gospel and pre-war blues.
Bibb is a Grammy nominee who's been compared to Ry Cooder, Keb Mo and Taj Mahal. Drawing from age-old roots, his soulful, gospel blues embody the spirit of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mississippi John Hurt, Son House and Reverend Gary Davis.
Hardly a slouch himself, Youngblood Hart jumped ahead of the revivalist curve with his 1997 debut release, Big Mama's Door. The powerful recording landed him three Living Blues Critics Poll Awards for Best Debut Album, Best Blues Album and Best Traditional Album of the Year. He also garnered the coveted W.C. Handy Award, the blues equivalent of a Grammy.
Show time is 8 p.m. in the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Advance tickets are $14; available at Antigone Books, Enchanted Earthworks and Hear's Music; or $16 at the door. Call 881-3947 for tickets and info.
CLASSIC KUROSAWA. Japan's late cinema master Akira Kurosawa is vividly recalled with a screening of Roshomon, presented by the UA International Arts Society Film Program.
In this 1951 classic, Kurosawa tells the same story from four different perspectives, turning a simple tale of rape and murder into a "Pirandellian" riddle about truth, perception and human motivation.
Toshiro Minufe gives an electrifying performance as the alleged killer-rapist in this 1953 Venice Film Festival Grand Prize winner.
The free screening is at 7:30 p.m. in the UA Modern Languages Auditorium, east of the Student Union, and north of the main mall. Call 621-3527 for information.
PUPPET PARTY. Video games thankfully give way -- if only briefly -- to more timeless tot entertainment when FantasyMakers presents Mini Marionette Moments.
This charming, fourth-generation troupe of puppeteers and marionette masters started as Geniiland Puppet Theater in 1958, under Genii Townsend. Her mother, Marion "Bubbles" Zollars, handled the bookings. Today the tradition continues in the hands of Genii's daughter, Starr-Light Taylor. "I literally grew up in this theater," Taylor says. "We did birthday parties, mainly for the movie stars' children -- 12 parties per weekend through Geniiland's closing in 1977."
Now back on the scene as FantasyMakers, the company creates all its own puppets, including such notable characters as "Yummy the tummy dragon," "Kristen the wizard" and the "Char Woman" puppet, which became a regular on The Carol Burnett Show.
The free, 15-minute performances run from 4 to 5:45 p.m. on the Tucson Mall Main Stage. Call 744-7422 for information.
SOUND 'N' SUDS. Drink up for a good cause at the 13th annual Great Tucson Beer Festival, benefiting the Sun Sounds radio reading service.
First, Sun Sounds: This great non-profit bunch sends out closed broadcasts to physically, visually and learning disabled Arizonans. Over the air, volunteers read local and area newspapers and provide other crucial information.
Now, the beer: Along with tastings of fine brews too numerous to list, the party will include chili, salsa, wings and guacamole cook-offs before a bevy of celebrity judges. There will also be live entertainment and a silent auction.
The fund-raiser is at 6 p.m. at Old Tucson Studios, 201 S. Kinney Road. Advance tickets are $25, $15 for children and non-drinkers, and available by calling 296-2400. Tickets are $5 more at the door.
GARDENS OF VERSE. Fine literature and abundant flora cross paths with Poetry in the Gardens.
Held in the lush Tucson Botanical Gardens, the gathering will feature our own poet laureate, William Pitt Root. He'll be accompanied by Barrie Ryan, author of How the World is Given to Us.
Root is a three-time National Book Award Finalist, and all-around nice chap. Ryan is a long-time PCC instructor and hospice worker.
The reading, along with wonderful chow and refreshments, begins at 4:30 p.m. in the TBG Reception Garden, 2150 N. Alvernon Way. Tickets are $5, available at Antigone Books, Bentley's House of Coffee and Tea, Hear's Music, and the TBG gift shop. Call 326-9686 for details.
JAZZ LEGACY. The indomitable Tucson Jazz Society is back with a performance by Ali Ryerson and Joe Beck.
Ryerson has performed and recorded with artists from Kenny Barron, Stephane Grappelli and Red Rodney to Roy Haynes and Luciano Pavarotti. She boasts 10 albums, including her most recent, ALTO, recorded with Joe Beck.
For his part, Beck has played guitar with a similar list of giants, including Gil Evans, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Stan Getz. And he's produced and arranged records for even more luminaries, including the chairman of the board, Frank Sinatra.
They'll perform from 6 to 9 p.m. in St. Philip's Plaza, at River Road and Campbell Avenue. Tickets are $11, $6 for TJS members, available at the door. For information, call 743-3399.
FACULTY FLIGHTS. Catch some hometown high notes with a performance by mezzo-soprano Jocelyn Reiter.
Presented as part of the UA Faculty Artist Series, Reiter will headline a program featuring the French chamber music of Ibert, Saint-Saëns, Delibes, deFalla and Caplet. And she knows her stuff, having appeared in opera houses in Germany, Austria, Japan, and across the United States.
She performs at 3 p.m. in UA Crowder Hall, on the south end of the pedestrian underpass at Speedway and Park Avenue. Tickets range from $5 to $10, and are available at the UA Fine Arts box office, or by calling 621-1162.
MYSTERIES REVEALED. The UA Steward Observatory continues plumbing the depths of deep space -- with the layman in mind -- through its ongoing lecture series. And we're talking ongoing as in 70 years.
Tonight, the exploration takes another leap forward with Making Science Fun in the Science Center. That's the UA Flandrau Science Center, of course. On campus, the center is a cool little noggin-stretching gem providing kids and their adults the chance to see weird phenomena brought down to earth in a plethora of displays and demonstrations. The discussion will be led by Flandrau Director Dr. Bill Buckingham, and include star-gazing through the observatory's 21-inch telescope.
The free event is at 7:30 p.m. in Steward Observatory, Room N210. For details, call 621-5049.
PARADISE OF PEACE. You may have missed it, tucked along a side road near Congress Street and I-10, but the unpretentious landmark certainly caught the attention of video artist Patti Cassidy, who shares her insights tonight with a screening of her documentary Oasis in a Firestorm: The Garden of Gethsemane.
Also known as Felix Lucero Park, the spot contains a remarkable sculpture of Christ and the Twelve Disciples created in the 1940s by homeless artist Lucero. Having lived through the travails of war, he offered his thanks by devoting years to the project.
Cassidy traces the garden from inception through decades of neglect, to its present resplendent form -- including the homeless who still consider the park a shady refuge. It's part of her series on Tucson's public sculpture. She says that each "has its own story and character, and fits into the community in a unique way."
She'll present and discuss her video at 7 p.m. in the Tucson-Pima Arts Council offices, 240 N. Stone Ave. Call 624-0595 for details.
GULLETS WIDE OPEN. Open your eyes -- and your throats -- to suds-laden cinema when the venerable Nimbus Brewing Co. features Stanley Kubrick Night at the movies.
Every Wednesday the micro-brewery taps into its film archives to come up with thematic gems. Tonight, the visionary English director is recalled with screenings of Spartacus and Lolita. You'll not only have the chance to marvel at such genius, but also at the fine beer served up for a paltry $2. Of course, the movies and the popcorn are free.
Spartacus screens at 6:30 p.m., and Lolita at 8:30 p.m., in the Nimbus Brewing Co. Tap Room, 3850 E. 44th St. For information, call 745-9175.
MUSICAL PEARL. Fine classical talent arrives in town tonight with a rare recital by violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, accompanied by pianist Janet Goodman Guggenheim.
Perlman has wowed concertgoers for more than three decades, and today he ranks as the most-in-demand violinist in the world. With 15 Grammys, three Emmys and a Presidential Medal of Liberty under his belt, the musician is at the top of his game. The Washington Post says, "Along with Perlman's proficiency -- that sweet, centered tone, those dazzling runs and octaves, that immaculate, aristocratic command of the instrument -- there is always a human element, an appealing mixture of seriousness and informality."
Guggenheim is a great artist in her own right, having performed with Pinchas Zukerman, Young Uck Kim, Uto Ughi and, of course, Perlman.
Their performance is at 7:30 p.m. in UA Centennial Hall, inside the main gate east of Park Avenue. Tickets range from $48 to $60, and are available at the Centennial Hall box office, or by calling 621-3341.