Dec. 17

Junior Strings concert to include music mix

About 16 musicians from the Tucson Junior Strings will share a mix of music by Dvorak and Mozart, as well as light classics, show tunes and perhaps even some Christmas carols when they return to the Arizona Senior Academy for a concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

As in previous concerts, the violin, viola, cello and bass players will consist of high school students drawn from Tucson Junior Strings members throughout the area. All are part of the elite Chamber I, the top of six levels of Tucson Junior Strings orchestras.

The Tucson Junior Strings have been part of the Tucson music education scene for 46 years. Under the guidance, organization and dedication of Dennis and Anna Bourret (working together since 1970), along with Andrea Jameson, young Tucson string musicians have progressed through the strings’ six stages as they master increasingly difficult levels of music.

Working in concert with school orchestra programs, the strings emphasize, in particular, the gaining of leadership skills by playing without a conductor and continually rotating concert master and section leader assignments.

Basic to the program is the cooperation of everyone for the benefit of harmony — both musical and interpersonal. That emphasis has resulted in Tucson Junior Strings alums in leadership roles in many organizations, both inside and outside the musical world.

Summer tours are planned for each year, with the 2014 tour heading to Boston, where Tucson Junior Strings students will have the benefit of coaching sessions with members of the Boston Symphony and the New England Conservatory of Music. Closer to home, Tucson Junior Strings will be conducting a weeklong Music Camp in the Santa Catalinas.

For more information about the program, go to online.

Janet Kerans

Dec. 18

Tucson writer describes ‘Cuba From the Street’

Tom Miller returns to the Arizona Senior Academy at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to share what he learned while writing “Trading With the Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through Castro’s Cuba.”

Miller has written six books and several articles for major publications about the Southwest and Latin America. He has led numerous Cuban tours for literary professionals for National Geographic Expeditions and a Treasury Department Exchange program, including one planned for this summer.

Miller is also writing a new book about Don Quixote based on recent travels in Spain.

His talk will cover U.S.-Cuba foreign policies (informally), how the embargo affects Cuba and Cubans, what you see on the streets (and what you don’t) and spirituality (Santeria, Judaism and Catholicism).

“I’ve been to Cuba practically every year for more than a quarter century, and I don’t think I’ve met more than a half-dozen officials,” Miller notes. “I do the street.”

His talk, “Cuba From the Street,” will reflect that. His intimacy with Cuba has been sealed by marriage: his wife, Regla Albarran, is Cuban.

Miller was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and attended college in Ohio, where he became editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper. He moved to Tucson somewhat on a lark in the late 1960s where he soon hooked up with the underground press and made some early connections with Esquire Magazine and The New York Times.

His travel books have been reviewed in major papers, with the San Francisco Chronicle calling Miller “one of our best nonfiction writers.”

Brack Brown

Dec. 19

Living off the desert

Most of us rely on a variety of well-stocked stores to provide us with almost everything we need. But imagine living in the Sonoran Desert 500 years ago and surviving on whatever you foraged, grew and made.

Would you know how to process mesquite pods for a thirst-quenching drink? Heal a wound with a poultice of dried creosote flowers? Braid a rope from a horse’s tail?

Next Thursday, Jesús Garcia, an ethnobotanist and education specialist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, will be at the Arizona Senior Academy to talk about the desert as the supermarket and drugstore for the early Sonoran peoples, who made ingenious use of plants, animals and minerals.

The show-tell-and-taste presentation will begin at 2:30 p.m.

Born and raised in Magdalena de Kino in Sonora, Mexico, Garcia taught elementary school before attending Pima Community College and the University of Arizona, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology. He teaches natural history programs to the Tucson Hispanic community and to teachers in the border region.

A leading participant in finding and propagating heirloom stock for the Kino Heritage Fruit Trees Project at Tumacacori National Historical Park, he also played a key role in the first planting of 130 heirloom-fruit varieties at the Mission Garden site in downtown Tucson.

For his Academy Village program, Garcia will compare the cultural traditions and resource uses of the Tohono O’odham, Yaqui and Seri peoples. Although all are natives of the Sonoran Desert, their traditional homelands encompass such biologically diverse habitats as the shores of the Gulf of California and the sky island regions of Mexico and Arizona.

Caroline Bates

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