It's not everyday that The New York Times praises a professor at the UA as "fresh and surprising" and "vividly lyrical." Then again, it's not everyday that the UA hires a professor as exciting as Brian Sacawa. The critically acclaimed saxophonist is a recent addition to an already-strong UA School of Music.
"It's a great environment to work and teach in," Sacawa says. "I have a great deal of support and encouragement from the administration to continue my creative activities and performances. I absolutely love my students. My class is extremely talented and very eager to learn."
Prior to arriving in Tucson, Sacawa performed with the likes of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic--yeah, like Russia--across the United States. Although this led to praise from mainstream critics and classical music aficionados alike, Sacawa takes it all with a grain of salt.
"It always feels great to read something positive about yourself that someone's written in the paper or online," Sacawa says. "It's always flattering, and I am humbled each time I get a review. In terms of negative criticism, I deal with it objectively. You can't please everybody all the time."
This Wednesday, Sacawa aims to please with a recital at the UA School of Music's Crowder Hall. With Wenli Zhou on piano and Gary Cook as percussionist, Sacawa will perform a selection of contemporary works. "Both of my collaborators on this recital are world-lass musicians," Sacawa says. "Gary Cook is known internationally, both as a percussionist and pedagogue. And Wenli Zhou, a beautiful pianist with an absolutely stunning technique, has been my faithful collaborator--and girlfriend--for the last three years."
The topper? It's free, so head on over to Crowder Hall on Wednesday to get all saxed up. --M.P.
With the festival spirit alive and well, Patagonia celebrates its 17th Annual Fall Festival. Paula Schaper, the festival's director of marketing, sees the weekend's festival--a celebration of music and art--as an extension of the small town hosting it. "Several residents--who still organize this festival and have lived here for a long time--saw the Patagonia Fall Festival as a natural expression of Patagonia many years ago. Today, it is still an expression of the incredible art and nature that exist here."
Unlike many urban festivals, Patagonia's festival boosts natural beauties like Patagonia Lake. "Artists from around the Southwest love to come here in the fall, because the weather is beautiful," Schaper says in an e-mail. "Patagonia is like stepping back in time. People from the big city get a kick out of our open, pedestrian-friendly Town Park."
The Patagonia community is notably pleasant. "It is a true community celebration with all members benefiting including churches, volunteers organizations and businesses," Schaper says. "Organizations like our volunteer fire department (and) various churches ... will all get to shine during our festival."
Last year, the festival drew 15,000 people. This year, attendees can expect an equally impressive turnout with musical additions like the Santa Cruz River Band, San Pedro River Ramblers and the Last Call Girls set to perform. Schaper notes that along with the wonderful music, delicious food and great arts (including handmade soaps, chili riestras and custom furniture), the festival is ideal for those tired of crowded, hectic festivals.
So, head to Patagonia this weekend to enjoy the finer things in life. Admission and entertainment are free. --M.P.
The festival with the wacky name is back for its 31st year. Since 1974, Tucson Meet Yourself has been one of Tucson's top-drawing festivals. Featuring a variety of ethnic and local food, music and arts, TMY has always been--like Tucson--something special.
Mia Hansen, TMY's program coordinator, notes that eclecticism is the festival's selling point. "Tucson Meet Yourself is the only occasion during which one might eat a Thai egg roll, watch a Ukrainian Easter-egg decorator and listen to a Tohono O'odham polka band, all at the same time," Hansen says.
Hansen explains that the wildly popular festival is often dubbed "Tucson Eat Yourself" because of its "mouth-watering variety of (food) choices from Indian curry to Greek baklava." The festival is also known for its genre-spanning musical performances ranging from Sambalanco (Brazilian music) to Odaiko Sonora Japanese Traditional drummers.
Also on display are a variety of arts from the local (Navajo weaving) to the international (Arabic calligraphy). With such a diverse collection of food and entertainment, it's no wonder the festival spans three days.
Hansen notes that last year roughly 50,000 folks attended TMY, so be sure to arrive early and stay the weekend as you meet yourself and discover--not shockingly--that you like what you see. Admission is free, with food ranging from $1.50 to $5. --M.P.
Steve Hofstetter, who calls himself "The Thinking Man's Comic," will perform his brand of edgy and sarcastic comedy this Tuesday at the UA. Hofstetter enjoys the smart tag attributed to his comedy. "It's not about how I'm smart; it's about how my audience is," Hofstetter says. "To be told you're the type of comic (who) only smart people find funny is a great compliment. And it's a great excuse when people don't laugh at my comedy."
In an uneasy world, Hofstetter finds his job easier than ever. "I actually think comedy is easier now, because people need to laugh," Hofstetter says. "You don't know how many times someone has thanked me, telling me that with all that's going on, they went out to the clubs to laugh about it."
And laugh they will, as Hofstetter rants on a variety of hot-button issues like race, politics and religion. "I don't try to make people forget about their problems," Hofstetter says. "I try to make people laugh at their problems." Turning problems into comedy earned Hofstetter his own show, Four Quotas, on Sirius Satellite Radio, as well as features on CNN and The New York Times.
Being a comedian for the intellectual set means occasionally offending people. "For the people who do get offended by what I say, I don't mind. Like I said, my comedy is not intended for stupid people." This also means nothing is off limits for Hofstetter. "There's humor in every subject. Comedy equals tragedy plus time. ... Sometimes, I'll find something to be too soon, but there's really comedy everywhere."
For the coolest class ever taught at the UA, go to the Manuel Pacheco Integrated Learning Center, Room 120, for Steve Hofstetter's witty comedy. The free event is serving as a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina relief. --M.P.