City Week 

Beyond the Activists

Tucson Peace Fair and Music Festival
11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23
DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center
Reid Park, near 22nd Street and Country Club Road
792-6500; peacecalendar.org

The Tucson Peace Center is hosting its annual Tucson Peace Fair and Music Festival, now in its 26th year.

"The fair is a great opportunity for peace-promoting organizations to introduce themselves to the community ... and for individuals to find organizations with the same issues and views," says Tucson Peace Fair coordinator Debra Brown.

The Peace Center--a loose network of local activists and activist organizations involved in the promotion of peace, justice and environmental issues--has worked hard to promote this year's fair to an audience beyond the activist community that normally attends.

"Our publicity team really pounded concrete to get the word out," says Brown, who seemed enthusiastic about the greater turnout that the center hopes to achieve.

An eclectic set of musical and theatrical performances, as well as entertainment for children, will run throughout the day, and as many as 100 organizations will host booths.

But entertainment is merely the means to an end: Positive world change remains the Peace Fair's primary goal. "The fair expands our influence on the public," says Mary MacEwan, a 95-year-old lifelong activist who, as a young child, stood on a women's suffrage picket line. "People who've never thought about working for peace suddenly become interested."

So far, this method has been working, organizers say. Tucson resident Stuart Thomas calls the last Peace Fair "a life-changing experience" that got him involved in the peace movement like never before. Thomas now hosts an Access Tucson talk show, World Harmony: Can It Happen?, which he often uses as a platform to promote the Peace Center and the Peace Fair. --A.M.

Classical Rocks!

Schaeffer Memorial Guitar Competition
2:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 24
Holsclaw Hall
UA School of Music Building
Speedway Boulevard, east of Park Avenue

Guitar geeks swoon over the likes of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, artists who have used the guitar as their vehicle for ideas and emotions. But this type of virtuosity is usually associated with the many forms of rock 'n' roll or jazz. What gets overlooked is how a guitar is used to express similar ideas and emotions through classical music.

The 20th Annual Leonard and David Schaeffer Memorial Guitar Competition will showcase four UA undergraduates from the guitar-studio program playing classical pieces. Each performance is 15 minutes; that quarter-hour can be divided in any manner by the competitor, but is typically comprised of three to four pieces. Unlike many competitions, there is no standard piece of music for each performance; competitors choose songs that best suit his or her style. And the styles on display can be eclectic.

"It's spectacular," says Tom Patterson, the director of guitar studies at the UA. Patterson explains that each individual has a different way of interpreting musical ideas, as well as how they chose to express those ideas. Styles of music influence the results (two competitors have focused on jazz, another on metal), and culture plays a significant role (one contestant is from Mexico, and another is from Peru). Patterson uses the metaphor of comparing apples to oranges; only these are some ridiculously tasty fruits that, in the end, will be compared.

"An artistic experience for the audience is better when there is a lot of variety," Patterson says.

After all the variety and the subsequent judging, prizes are awarded. The first-place winner takes home $1,000.

Patterson suggests showing up no later than 2:15 p.m. The competition, which has produced Fulbright scholarship winners and students who've performed in other prestigious competitions, tends to fill up quick--in part, because it is free. --M.K.

Big-Top Skills

Russian American Kids Circus
2 and 6 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 24
UA Centennial Hall
1020 E. University Blvd.
621-3341; uapresents.org

Like the traveling carnivals and medicine shows of American lore, there's just something magical about the Old World European circus.

The Russian American Kids Circus, which is making a stop in Tucson this week, capitalizes on this magic, combining "the artistry and magic of the circus with the rich and time-treasured tradition of European theatre and circus," their Web site states. The choreography is about more than just acrobatics--the show incorporates elements of theater, dance, music and comedy as well as traditional circus acts.

Interestingly, the "hallowed circus tradition" that the Russian American Kids Circus troupe prides itself on is interpreted and performed by--as the name implies--children. All acrobats and performers are between the ages of 6 and 16, but don't expect an amateur show. The children receive training from Alex Berenchtein, a former star in the world-renowned Moscow Circus. Berenchtein and his wife, Regina, co-founded the New Way Circus Center in New York City to employ a circus curriculum as vehicle to nurture artistic, personal and professional skills in children.

For the past 12 years, the couple has taken the most accomplished students into the Kids Circus troupe as professional touring performers.

Though European and Russian tradition figures prominently in the show, Regina states in press materials that her husband is "always changing things ... so everything is always fresh." The show promises to be a unique merger of cutting-edge stage technology and Old-World atmosphere.

Tickets are $15 to $18, or $10 for students, seniors, groups and military members. --A.M.

Hockey Without the Ice

Tucson Desperados take on the El Paso Black Diamonds
2:15 p.m. (Minor League) and 4 p.m. (Professional), Sunday, Feb. 24
1065 W. Grant Road
624-1234; tucsondesperados.com

Keeping a massive building at the NHL's required 60 degrees is a difficult task. In the desert, it becomes even more troublesome and expensive. So why not just ditch the ice and find something to replace the skates?

In the last year, the Tucson Desperados, an inline-skating hockey team, came into existence as a part of the Professional Inline Hockey Association. The PIHA was founded eight years ago, but didn't reach the Southwest until recently. Arizona now has three teams in the newly created Southwest Division, with an El Paso, Texas, team rounding out the division.

Things move at a slower pace in inline hockey. It is a game that is more focused on the movement of the puck and player, instead of the quick slashing that blades and ice allow. The game is more open, too. Zones are done away with, and one player is dropped, making it four-on-four with a goalie standing at each end. With the openness comes more scoring, which is always fun. "That's at least the idea, but that doesn't always happen with us," quips Scott Patterson, owner of and player with the Desperados.

An $8 ticket ($6 for kids 12 and younger) allows for more than a high scoring game of inline hockey. The ticket covers four games, beginning with two minor league games and followed by the two professional teams duking it out. Intermissions are filled with different activities. Tucson ladies' roller derby teams also come out for a portion of the night to keep the crowd entertained. "We put on a good show," Patterson says.

People can expect a competitive match up against the El Paso Black Diamonds. The last time the two organizations met, nearly every game was decided by a goal. --M.K.


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