Fall Arts Preview: Music, Literature and the Stuff of Life

Even when it's 110 degrees outside, we still love and think about arts in Tucson. It just happens to be, that once the temperatures drop and life seem more civilized in our part of the world, that arts and gathering together as a community become a priority. That's when we stop whining and start singing how much we love living here.

The Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, a UA's arts, humanities and social sciences research center, has been bringing people together in different capacities to talk art and society. One of its more popular series continues this fall, Show & Tell, at Playground Bar & Lounge, 278 E. Congress St. The events are free and open to everyone, start at 6 p.m. and you can stimulate your brain with a good beer and cocktail, too.

See our CityWeek on Page 23 or the opening Show & Tell, "Occupying Our Space," but be sure to put these others on your calendar. "Can't Get You Out of My Head!" on Wednesday, Oct. 7 gets into the Arizona Ear Worm Project with UA Professor of Music Theory Don Traut; Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Professor Andrew Lotto; and Dan Kruse, an ethnomusicologist and graduate of the UA School of Music. On Thursday, Nov. 12 is "Don't Buy, Share!" with UA Retailing and Consumer Sciences Professor Anita Bhappu and learn about the Sharing Tribes app and on retail vs. sharing. Figures show that 76 percent of Americans think sharing saves money, 72 percent think sharing builds relationships, and 64 percent think sharing lowers environmental impact. For more on what's they are doing at Confluencenter, visit Confluencecenter.arizona.edu/events.

On the literary front in Tucson, besides the Festival of Books in March, there are lots of wonderful organizations that bring community and the written word together. Casa Libre continues that work this fall with its Fair Weather Reading Series that will be held outside in the courtyards of Casa Libre's Fourth Avenue headquarters. This series celebrates LGBTQ writers, female writers, writers of color, emerging writers, and other underrepresented groups. The readings are monthly on Friday and Saturday evenings, and occasional workshops will be taught by readers at FLUXX. There are promised that sometimes there will be music, dancing, swimming, raffles and good food—this is Casa Libre after all.

The first reading is Saturday, Sept. 12 with Selah Saterstrom, Lisa Birman and Elizabeth Frankie Rollins. There's workshop, The Meat on the Bones, with Lidia Yuknavitch on Oct. 17. For a full list of the readings and workshops, and other Casa Libre events, visit their website at casalibre.org.

Other cool lit events happening in Tucson celebrate Edgar Allen Poe. "The Raven and the Tomahawk: Poe, Poetry, and the Rise of Popular Criticism," is a lecture from UA Professor Paul Hurh on Sept. 24, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the UA Poetry Center, 1508 E. Helen St., in partnership with the Big Read Tucson, a National Endowment of the Arts Program. The Big Read Tucson is a community celebration and exploration of Poe's work that will take places through May 2016 with other literacy organization and program to bring Poe to life via Literacy Connects. For more info go to www.neabigread.org

Want a bit of the classics, as well as classics with a twist? We're talking music and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra with its conductor Andrew Grams. Opening weekend for the TSO is Friday, Sept. 25. The rhythm and energy of Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances combined with one of Copland's signature pieces, The Promise of Living, get the season off to a festive start. What's always wonderful about the TSO is that they always keep the future in mind and have program offerings for kids. Winds of Space is Oct. 3, 10 to 11:15 a.m. with the wind quintet, going on a musical adventure through space. Travel with nine-year old twins Alex and Lisa as they explore Bassoonadon and other planets, encounter Queen DoubleReeda, dodge asteroids and meet aliens! But before they know it they're lost, with no way home. Kids can come in costume dressed as a astronaut or alien.

There are more TSO treats planned through Christmas with Mozart and Beethoven, a TSO SuperPops! Series with the music of film composer John Williams. There are more plans for kids and more beautiful music like an evening with Ravel and Falla. The season end with a Magic of Christmas SuperPops! Performance on Dec. 19 and Dec. 20 with UA Dance. For a complete schedule of events and more, got to tucsonsymphony.org.

Also on that classic calendar, be sure to give some love Arizona Opera this season. Arizona Lady opens the season on Oct. 10. The first major opera company in the US to premiere Emmerich Kalman's opera which is a love letter written in 1953 to the Southwest. Florence en el Amazonas is the November show, inspired by the magical realism of author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Florencia Grimaldi is traveling through an enchanted rainforest hoping to find a long lost cover.

Georges Bizet's Carmen brings San Francisco opera star mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack to Arizona for this performance. Don Giovanni and Falstaff end the season. For more on 2015 opera offerings, visit azopera.org.

Remember that we also love our cinema in Tucson. This season there's a new film heartbreaker in town, er film festival, Tucson Festival of Film, which debuts Oct. 8 at the Temple of Music and Art. The three-day event features documentaries and short, a world premiere, a gala anniversary screening of a film shot in Tucson and a comedy from Mexico and more. The festival is describes a collaboration in being uniquely currated by programmers from eight of the city's longest-running film festivals: Arizona International Film Festival, Arizona Underground Film Festival, Loft Film Festival, Native Eyes Showcase, Tucson Cine Mexico, Tucson Film and Music Festival, Tucson International Jewish Film Festival, and Tucson Terrorfest.

A highlight is the screening of Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, presented at the Loft in 35MM. The film is followed by videotaped appearances by Ellen Burstyn and Diane Ladd talking about their experiences making the film in Tucson. For more info on the entire festival and a schedule, go to www.tucsonfestivaloffilms.com.

The Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation continues it's mission to bring and celebrate blues in the Old Pueblo and it's neighbors. The Blues and Heritage Festival is Oct. 18. This year's festival features Eddy "the Chief" Clearwater, Dennis Jones Band, Bad News Blues Band, Kathy Davis and the GrooveTones, Little House of Funk and Gabe Martinez. For more on the festival and other blues events going on, keep in touch with them at azblues.org.

How about some Tucson arts life with a different point-of-view? How about comics? Mike Olivares started the Tucson Comic-Con eight years ago, and it gets better and better every year, thanks to the Old Pueblo geeks who turn out to celebrate and support it. This year's Con is Nov. 6-Nov. 8, at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave.

Vendors from Arizona and the surrounding states will be on hand. There are special programs this year, as well as a gaming room, film festival, 3rd annual costume contest in the Leo Rich Theater on Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Our Con is also a great value, $25 for a weekend pass and preview night, or $15 for Saturday only and $10 for Sunday only. Kids 12 and under are free. For more on all things Tucson Comic-Con go to