Thursday 9

CLASSIC AND NOT-SO-CLASSIC. The Tucson Symphony Orchestra is sticking with the traditional and branching out into less-conventional musical genres this week.

Concerts tonight, tomorrow and Sunday feature George Hanson conducting, James Tocco at the piano in a TSO program that features Tchaikovsky's legendary brooding Symphony No. 5, the bubbly and energetic The Bartered Bride: Overture by Czech composer Smetana, and Pulitzer-prize winning Symphony No. 2 by the modern composer John Corigliano--who won a Grammy for his film score to the Red Violin. Performances start at 8 p.m. tonight and Friday; Sunday's show starts at 2 p.m. Come early for a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. tonight and tomorrow.

Between tastes of Tchaikovsky this week is another special treat. Saturday's TSO concert is guest conducted by jazz favorite, Bobby McFerrin. It's a Tucson first: McFerrin brings his unique genius to the stage performing Prokofiev, Gershwin, Bizet and vocal improvisations by the master himself. Concert starts at 8 p.m.

All concerts are held in the Music Hall at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets range from $13 to $48. Call 882-8585 for reservations and more information.

Friday 10

STUFFED IN THE TRUNK. Traders and trading families have traditions that are as much a part of Arizona's history as the goods and native cultures they represent. Jim Babbitt continues his family's century-long trading dynasty. He hails from Flagstaff where he owns and operates Babbitt's Wholesale, Inc., which specializes in the sale of Indian trade blankets. He shares his history in an informal slide presentation as well as showing and selling a vast array of trade blankets by Pendleton.

His lecture starts at 10 a.m. and the show and benefit trunk sale last until 4 p.m. It all takes place at the Arizona State Museum located northeast of the UA Main Gate on Park Avenue. Admission is free. Questions? Call 626-8381.

Saturday 11

DIG IT. For the duration of our time here on earth, we humans will be unabashedly curious about how other humans who came before us functioned in the world. That's why archaeologists exist.

You can play one for a day. The Old Pueblo Archaeology Center offers guided tours and excavations at the Yuma Wash Hohokam Indian ruins today.

The site was once a large settlement of the Hohokam Indians, inhabited from as early as 750 to as late as the 1400s. Through previous excavations, the center has found more than 100 partly underground pithouses as well as pueblo-like homes and thousands of prehistoric stone, bone, pottery and seashell artifacts. Some of the site's archaeological features suggest that Puebloan people from northern or eastern Arizona lived there with the Hohokam--your basic, friendly neighborhood.

If you get to the site between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., you can join one of the free, guided tours--no reservations needed. If you want to get dirty and dig, pre-registration is required a day ahead by calling 798-1201. The fee is $38 and includes all instruction and artifact processing materials. Dig sessions take place from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Participation is open to kids 12 and up and adults.

If you miss today's dig, there is another one scheduled for January 25.

SO MUCH ART, SO LITTLE TIME. There are lots of shows spilling forth this week. Here's a smattering of what's opening today.

At 4:30 p.m., Arizona State Museum hosts a bash for Louis David Valenzuela. The Tucson native says his art-making began at the age of 10 when Arturo Montoya introduced him to a painting of a Yaqui Deer Dancer. In honor of that inspiration, the opening reception features a performance of the Youth Deer Dancers. The Museum is located on Park Avenue north of Main Gate. The exhibit continues through February 28.

Two shows open simultaneously at HazMat Gallery, 191 E. Toole Ave. MOCA's warehouse gallery features Team, new work by Michael Lavine, and James Graham's New Gods. Lavine is a documenter of the underground music scene of the '80s and '90s. James Graham, former director of HazMat Gallery, makes monumental prints of simple plumbing hardware. "I want others to see them as I do when I concentrate on the task of fitting them together," says the artist of the gadgets that make up his art. The reception takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. and the show continues through February 22.

A little further downtown, at Etherton Gallery (located at 135 S. Sixth Ave.) is a show titled, Filaments and Invention. It features paintings by Bradley W. Pattison, Simon Donovan and Teresa Villegas and sculpture by Randy Spalding. Pattison's work is derived from memories of travel. Villegas' 54 oil on wood panels make up La Loteria, an exploration of Mexico. Donavan mixes media together to study people in an enigmatic and voyeuristic reappraisal of beauty. And Spalding makes comic book characters come to life in his figurative portrait sculptures. The reception starts at 7 p.m. and goes until 10 p.m. The show continues through March 15.

Drop in. Take in the art. Nibble on the cheese and crackers. Enjoy.

FILM FEST TIME. Kicking off the rich season of film festivals in Arizona are not one, but two, concurrent, interrelated cinematic feasts.

To celebrate, the Jewish Film Festival and the Israel Film Festival screen the same film at their opening night tonight. Late Marriage is winner of nine Israeli Film Awards. It's the story of a Georgian émigré community in Tel Aviv--a sexy comedy of manners that investigates what happens when people get stuck between true love and family tradition. Screening begins at 7:30 p.m. with a short film titled Kosher and is followed by a reception.

After their joint opening night screening and party, the festivals go their own ways. The Jewish Film Festival continues with a variety of features and documentaries this week, Sunday through Thursday, January 16. The Israeli Film Festival takes a break and returns with films beginning on Thursday, January 16, and continues next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, January 18 and 19.

Films are screened at the Tucson Jewish Community Center located at 3800 E. River Road. Call 299-3000 for single-ticket prices or festival passes as well as a full schedule of films for both festivals.

Sunday 12

PUPPETS GONE WILD. Every Sunday in January at 1:30 p.m., there's a treat in store for the little ones at New Kiva Motions Puppet Theater.

Wild Winter Tales includes coyote stories and bilingual folktales in full puppetry charm. Shows take place at the newly renovated Red Barn Theater located at 948 N. Main Ave., below Speedway Boulevard. After every show, kids get to make a simple puppet to take home and create their own shows. The performance and puppet-making take about an hour.

Tickets cost $3 per person and $5 for two kids; $2 for folks with AHCCCS card or low-income bus pass. No reservations are required. Call 887-5144 for details.

WISE, WISER, WISEST. Post-holiday, pre-war. Seems like a good time for wisdom.

Nathan the Wise is a film based on a play about a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, the Crusades and religious tolerance. Written during the German Enlightenment by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, the story revolves around the conflict over claims to the Holy Land and what is true faith.

The free screening starts at 5 p.m. today. It's part of the Sunday Night at the Movies series that offers a potluck dinner and concludes with a discussion of the movie. The Unlearning Racism Task Force of Congregation Ner Tamid and St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church sponsor the monthly series. Screening takes place at the church located at 4625 E. River Road near Swan Road. Call 299-9063 for details.

Monday 13

BIRDS OF THE DESERT. You've heard much about birds in the Sonoran Desert--a veritable backyard of warblers. But what kinds of birds flock to other deserts of the world?

Dr. Joseph Platt, biologist and photographer, spent 19 years on the Arabian Peninsula. In fact, he was the personal wildlife advisor to two crown princes. (Now there's a job.) During his six years in Bahrain and 13 in the United Arab Emirates, he encountered a harsh and unforgiving desert environment that makes our summer seem like a breeze. Platt offers a slide presentation on the birds and other wildlife of this peninsula tonight at 7 p.m. Come hear, for example, about the exotic hoopoe and camel. Platt focuses on how animals adapt to the extreme conditions of the desert and compares adaptive strategies to those of animals in the gentler Sonoran desert.

The slide-lecture takes place at the Duval Auditorium at the University Medical Center, 1501 N. Campbell Ave. Afterwards, he can answer your questions about wildlife as well as his experiences in Arabia. The program is sponsored by the Tucson Audubon Society which offers a short pre-program by David Meyer, president of the Tucson Bonsai Society.

The program and lecture are free and open to all. Call 629-0510 with questions.

Tuesday 14

WALKING AND TALKING. Time once again for some neighborhood tours in Tucson's historic districts.

Today at 10 a.m., take a look at the history and stories associated with the hotels, theater and commercial buildings along Congress Street and Broadway Boulevard as you stroll through the downtown historic district. Meet at the railroad station at 400 E. Toole Ave. On Saturday, January 11, also at 10 a.m., another tour winds its way near downtown through the El Presidio Neighborhood, concentrating on the homes on Court and Meyer Streets--the latter being one of the most photographed streets in Tucson. Meet at the northeast corner of Court and Council Streets.

The tours are hosted by KruseArizona and cost $17 today or $15 on Saturday. Refreshments are served. Call to reserve a spot at 881-1638.

CHIEFS ON THE MUSIC SCENE. With a career that spans four decades and 40 albums, The Chieftains are not only Ireland's premier musical ambassadors, but also the most enduring and influential creative force in establishing the international appeal of Celtic music.

Every time I pick up a CD of theirs, they're playing with some stellar singer, fusing a rich exploration of various musical styles. Paddy Moloney, the group's founder and front man, first brought together a group of local musicians in Dublin in 1962. Since then, they've recorded film soundtracks, performed all over the world and joined forces with the likes of Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, The Rolling Stones, Los Lobos and many others.

To celebrate their newest CD, Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions, The Chieftains start their 41st tour right here in the Southwest with special guest artists Allison Moorer and bluegrass musician Chris Jones. Pop cellist Caroline LaVelle stands in for the late, great Derek Bell. The group's harpist for 30 years passed away last October.

After a stop in Phoenix, the band comes down to Tucson tonight for a show at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. For tickets and show time, call the box office at 621-3341.

Wednesday 15

HIDDEN IDENTITY. He wears a mask so you won't know who he is. He fights to bring justice to the lawless frontier. He rides a white stallion and strikes terror into the hearts of the gunslingers of the Old West.

He's The Lone Stranger.

Gaslight Theater presents The Lone Stranger, opening this week with previews on Thursday, opening night on Friday, and shows running every day but Monday through March 22. Join the Lone Stranger and his friend Tonka as they come to the aid of those in need. The play is written and directed by Peter Van Slyke with musical direction by Lisa Otey and Linda Ackermann. Mia Hanson choreographs a cast that includes Dave Fanning, Blake Pullen, Dan Gunther, Kylie Arnold and others.

Tonight's show, like the rest of the week, starts at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays have two shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Some Sundays include a 3 p.m. matinee as well. Tickets cost $14.95 for adults, $12.95 for seniors, students and active military. Kids, 12 and under, get in for $6.95. Dinner is available in the theater or you can dine next store at Little Anthony's Diner. Gaslight Theater is located at 7010 E. Broadway Blvd. Call 886-9428 for tickets or other information.

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