Fantastic freebie. Head for the UA campus Thursday for an evening of great music at just the right price--free.

The Arizona Contemporary Ensemble's concert features John Altieri's 2001 composition, My Words Turn to Song in Your Fists, and Francais Darius Milhaud's Wind Ensemble Suite. The ensemble is conducted by UA composition professors Craig Walsh and Dan Coleman and also by doctoral candidate Bruce Taylor.

The UA Wind Ensemble, conducted by Gregg I. Hanson, will perform Robert Kurka's The Good Soldier Schweik. The free performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Crowder Hall, Music Building, UA Campus, at the south end of the pedestrian underpass on Speedway Boulevard east of Park Avenue. For more information, call 621-2998 or visit

Cultural celebration. Check out some big name Tejano musicians and learn more about La Causa.

¡Viva Tucson! Tex-Mex Jam is billing itself as Arizona's Premier Tejano Music Festival and it's little wonder. This free two-day event attracts an estimated 30,000 participants annually, including visitors from Texas, California and New Mexico.

The main objective of ¡Viva Tucson! is to celebrate the richness of the Chicano/Mexican culture through the promotion of art, cultural awareness, and education.

The event is from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Kennedy Park Fiesta Area, 3700 S. La Cholla Blvd.

Today's lineup will begin with flavorful local bands that will precede The Hometown Boys, who are scheduled to open for Jimmy Gonzalez and Grupo MAZZ.

On Sunday, ¡Viva Tucson! will once again be home to the internationally acclaimed and six-time Grammy nominee group Ramon Ayala Y Sus Bravos Del Norte.

The event benefits Chicanos Por La Causa. The agency--a community development corporation--has operated in Tucson since 1980. La Causa currently services over 6,000 at-risk individuals each year with affordable housing, emergency assistance, job training, small business loans and youth leadership development and educational programs.

For more information, please call 882-0018 or email

Secret garden. Ever heard of the Armory Park Artist's Garden?

One of downtown Tucson's strange little secrets, Armory Park Garden will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday for the sixth annual show and sale of artist Janet K. Miller's reverse glass paintings.

Reverse glass painting is an ancient technique of painting backwards on the wrong side of glass so that the painting is seen through the glass. This results in unusually vibrant colors and a rare luminousness not seen in other techniques.

Miller's paintings are naive and sophisticated, full of humor, whimsy, rich detail and a spooky little edge.

The garden will be at its dazzling peak of spring bloom, featuring antique heirloom flower varieties from Tucson's historic barrios. Shirley poppies, love-in-a-mist, bachelor buttons, bells of Ireland, corncockles, larkspur, Queen Anne's lace, godetia, baby's breath, sweet peas, and other grand dame flower varieties of the last century will make an appearance.

Hours of the show are noon to 5 p.m. both days. The studio and garden are located at 522 S. Fifth Ave.

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