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Piano Showdown!

Last Performance from the Green Valley Concert Association
6:30 p.m., Friday, April 11
Desert Hills Lutheran Church
2150 S. Camino Del Sol, Green Valley
648-5961; gvconcertassociation.org

After about 35 years, the Green Valley Concert Association is producing its final performance. And Cal Turner, a member of the board of directors, promises it will be a good one.

"This is the cream of the crop," Turner says.

It's the Annual Piano Competition, which features five UA students--one acting as an alternate--involved in the piano-performance program. The UA School of Music held the preliminaries, and now a panel of professional judges will decide who gets the $2,000 grand prize. But they don't have the only say in the event.

Audience members have the opportunity to cast a vote by picking a performer on the ballots that event coordinators will pass out. It's a popular vote, so the performer who gets his or her name circled the most comes out with $200.

Picking a favorite performer is bound to be difficult, considering the range of styles and pieces. The competitors are expected to choose pieces that display their technical abilities and allow them to express personal styles and emotional interpretations.

Tickets cost $10, which gives the buyer a seat for the classical music competition (at 7:30) and allows the buyer to attend a pre-show reception (at 6:30) that will feature punch and cookies. Turner describes the reception as a socializing event where event-goers can mingle with each other, the judges and some of the competitors--at least those who aren't psyching themselves up backstage.

Who knows? Maybe Tucson Weekly arts editor and KUAT FM 90.5 morning host James Reel, the master of ceremonies for the competition, will roam around the Fellowship Hall, talking with guests. --M.K.


Get Your Bike Out!

Clean Air Days Bike 2 Work Celebration
7 to 9 a.M., Friday, April 11
Joel D. Valdez Main Library
101 N. Stone Ave.
Bristol Coffeebus
5601 E. Broadway Blvd.
837-6691; dot.tucsonaz.gov/bikefest

Six months ago, the Tucson Department of Transportation began its City Cycle Program. It's a pilot project that encourages city employees to, as the department's Web site says, ease traffic congestion and cut back on air pollution. In other words, it encourages them to ditch the car and grab a bike to get around. Beyond the tangible benefits, the Web site adds: "and it's fun, too."

Now, the DOT and the Governor's Office of Highway Safety want to raise awareness for local citizens and celebrate those who are already riding a bike to and from work.

Tom Thivener is the city bike/pedestrian coordinator and is at the forefront of two events taking place this Friday.

"It's a time to encourage people to ride," Thivener says.

To get people to ride down to one of the two locations (the main library downtown and the Bristol Coffeebus on the eastside), organizers will offer free continental breakfasts--and tons of giveaways.

Trek Bikes is giving away water bottles, and Thivener says folks will hand out some "very cool key chains with the Bike Fest '08 logo." There will also be raffles for restaurant gift certificates and hotel stays. And, of course, in conjunction with Ordinary Bike Shop and Roadrunner Bicycle, safety equipment and information will be available.

The day of the events comes just before the final week of Bike Fest, so this is one of the few remaining happenings on the schedule. For more detailed information on locations for bike tuneups and other information, go to the Bike Fest Web site. The Web site also contains a schedule of the remaining events. --M.K.


Fighting Genocide

Musicians Saving the World: A Darfur Benefit
1 to 5:30 p.m., Sunday, April 13
El Presidio Park
115 N. Church Ave.
444-3311; standnow.org

What sets the Darfur conflict apart from other post-World War II genocides is that the United States hasn't waited until after the fact to acknowledge it as such.

What hasn't changed is our failure to respond timely and appropriately.

The 1948 Genocide Convention, now accepted international law, binds participating countries--including the United States--to actively halt known genocides. Historically, this has created a counterproductive hesitancy to call genocide by its real name; look at the creative lexicon the Clinton administration developed to talk about Rwanda in the '90s.

"If we recognize genocide, we must take action," says Mickey Jackson, a senior at Catalina Foothills High School and head of the North Tucson chapter of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND): "So the U.S. is failing, not only on a moral but a legal plane."

In 2003, government-sponsored militias known as the Janjaweed began mass killings against native African tribes in Sudan. To date, civilian death-toll estimates usually range between 200,000 and 400,000. Millions more have been displaced to refugee camps.

Jackson has helped organize a benefit to put pressure on local and national legislators to support the underfunded, underequipped United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur, which is in bad need of vehicles, helicopters and humanitarian funding. The event, "Musicians Saving the World," will include a public march beginning in El Presidio Park, moving through downtown and returning to the park for presentations by keynote speakers, including a Darfur refugee, and performances by local bands including Great Job and Monterey. The event is free, and everyone is encouraged to march.

Proceeds from the sale of shirts and raffle tickets will benefit the United Nations World Food Program. --A.M.


Finding Voice

Tucson Poetry Festival
Thursday, April 10, through Sunday, April 13
Most events at the Historic Y
300 E. University Blvd.
tucsonpoetryfestival.org

The theme for the 26th Tucson Poetry Festival is "voice," a difficult thing to define, because it takes so many different forms and meanings in poetry. Voice can be more than a stylistic convention; slam poetry relies heavily on voice as a performance tool.

"I have a special interest in the slam," says festival co-director Lindsay Miller, speaking about the open-mic event on Sunday. "That's how I got into the festival." She co-founded the Ocotillo Poetry Slam, which was adopted into the festival. As a slammer, she performs poetry dependent on the literal human voice, but she also recognizes that voice transcends speaking. She references poet Ayisha Knight, a hearing-impaired poet who will give a "reading" in American Sign Language.

"As a deaf poet, there is so much joy in creating poems in American Sign Language and using handshapes to create visual art," writes Knight in an e-mail. She says her poems, which range in subject from surviving rape to black-women's history, "have given a voice to subjects that are often kept silent. ... I love the freedom to play with language and let people experience a new way of seeing." While many poets claim that their work creates a new way of seeing, few have done so quite this literally.

Knight's free performance at the UA Poetry Center (1508 E. Helen St.) will kick things off Thursday night. The rest of the festival, featuring many local and internationally recognized poets, will be held at the Historic Y, where passes can be purchased for $50, with tickets to individual readings available for $10 ($5 with student ID); a $5 donation is suggested for the slam hosted by Miller at 8 p.m., Sunday. Check the Web site for a schedule and additional information. --A.M.

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