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A season of cultural potpourri

Tarpon Springs performing arts series goes for breadth and depth instead of the merely commericial.

By JOHN FLEMING, Times Performing Arts Critic
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 18, 2002

TARPON SPRINGS -- There isn't a big name appearing this season at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts and Cultural Centers, unless you happen to remember Roger McGuinn, onetime leader of the Byrds, now returned to his roots as a folk singer.

But the Tarpon Springs series is not about celebrity. It provides an affordable and well-thought-out alternative to the more commercial lineups at the bay area's other performing arts venues. The 2002-03 schedule was released today.

The season begins in September with a string of events devoted to West African history and culture. They include a visual arts exhibition inspired by West African spirituality and resistance to slavery, a dance performance by Dundu Dole and a lecture by Senegalese scholar Ibrahima Seck.

"It's something we want to do every September with events themed to various cultures," said Kathleen Monahan, director of the Tarpon Springs department of cultural and civic services. "This year, it's kind of an immersion in West African culture."

Ethnic arts are a trademark of the series. Eastern European dance by the Duquesne University Tamburitzans has been a perennial sellout, and the troupe returns for a fourth time. Ragamala, an East Indian dance troupe, performs with Taiko drummers.

The five-member Alborada ensemble plays Andean music. The Strauss-Warschauer Duo specializes in Yiddish songs and klezmer music. The Czech Marionettes give a family show.

McGuinn, who lives in Orlando, heads a folk lineup that also includes bluegrass great Peter Rowan, the Irish group Lunasa, Crasdant from Wales and Florida singer-songwriter Mike Jurgensen. Lauren Pelon's program ranges from folk music of ancient Greece to her compositions.

Classical music is another standby, with a number of artists making return engagements: violinist Janice Martin, pianists Diane Walsh and Joseph Schwartz, and the Inman Trio. Paul Galbraith, who plays eight-string guitar, will perform his arrangements of Bach's lute suites.

The performing arts center plans to form a community theater, beginning with a spring production of The Heiress, the Ruth and Augustus Goetz play adapted from Henry James' Washington Square; Dick Poole will direct. The season's highest-priced ticket is $20, for The Nutcracker in December.

Most of the Tarpon Springs series takes place in the performing arts center, a 370-seat auditorium that doubles as City Commission chambers inside City Hall, 324 Pine St. Several performances are in the 90-seat theater of the Tarpon Springs Cultural Center, 101 S Pinellas Ave. For a brochure, call (727) 942-5605. Here is the 2002-03 season.

SEPTEMBER: Sept. 6, Unprofessionals, improv, Cultural Center; Sept. 14, Brendan Nolan, folk; Sept. 21, Dundu Dole, dance; Sept. 22, The Emperor's New Clothes, Grey Seal Puppets; Sept. 27, Mike Jurgensen, folk, Cultural Center.

OCTOBER: Oct. 4, Unprofessionals, improv, Cultural Center; Oct. 4, Crasdant, folk; Oct. 12, Adams Duo, guitar and cello; Oct. 13, Czech Marionettes; Oct. 18, Peter Rowan, bluegrass; Oct. 19, Diane Walsh, piano; Oct. 26, Siempre Flamenco; Oct. 27, Inman Trio.

NOVEMBER: Nov. 1, Unprofessionals, improv, Cultural Center; Nov. 2, Tom Henderson's Bluegrass Parlor Band; Nov. 9, Poets & Troubadours; Nov. 10, Joseph Schwartz, piano; Nov. 15, Roger McGuinn, folk; Nov. 16, Strauss/Warschauer Duo, klezmer; Nov. 17, Carol Alexander, piano, and Patricia Dominowski, flute; Nov. 22, Ragamala, dance; Nov. 23, scenes from Barber of Seville, Florida Lyric Opera.

DECEMBER: Dec. 7, Lauren Pelon, folk; Dec. 8, Shepard Chorale; Dec. 12, Chatham Baroque; Dec. 14, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Florida Lyric Opera; Dec. 18, The Nutcracker, Dance Alive!

JANUARY: Jan. 2, Duquesne Tamburitzans; Jan. 5, Greek dance; Jan. 11, Caribbean Sound; Jan. 14, Golden Dragon Chinese Acrobats; Jan. 16, Gilbert & Sullivan favorites, Opera a la Carte; Jan. 18, Osiris Trio; Jan. 24, Alborada, folk; Jan. 25, David Burgess, guitar, Cultural Center.

FEBRUARY: Feb. 2, Penderecki String Quartet; Feb. 8, Swing Dance America; Feb. 9, Velveteen Rabbit, puppetry; Feb. 14, Janice Martin, violin; Feb. 15, Ec-Klez-Tic; Feb. 16, Shepard Chorale; Feb. 27, Amherst Saxophone Quartet; Feb. 28, Lunasa, folk.

MARCH: March 5, Duquesne Tamburitzans; March 8, Halali, folk; March 16, Bayside Children's Chorus; March 19, Paul Galbraith, guitar; March 22, Momentum Dance Company.

APRIL: April 3-14, The Heiress; April 11, Chamber Orchestra Kremlin; April 16, USF Opera.

MAY: May 15-18, Gilbert & Sullivan's Ruddigore, Century Opera.

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