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The 14th season of Florida State University's popular festival of the performing arts boasts a diverse, eclectic lineup and an array of educational opportunities for university-level and K-12 students.

Running from Feb. 9-20, Seven Days of Opening Nights will once again highlight Florida State's contribution to the arts, reflecting the university's excellence in visual art, theater, dance, music, film and creative writing. Festival highlights include the Tallahassee debuts of the acclaimed Soweto Gospel Choir, New Orleans powerhouses Allen Toussaint and Trombone Shorty, jazz chanteuse Jane Monheit, comic legend Joan Rivers, the National Theatre of Scotland, and 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan.

Seven Days will also present performances outside of the festival, including shows by world music master Zakir Hussain (Sept. 28), dance maverick Monica Bill Barnes (Sept. 22-23), the original lineup of Bela Fleck & the Flecktones (March 21), and bestselling author Sarah Vowell (April 1).

As always, the festival will focus on education. This season, a dozen Seven Days performers will offer master classes to FSU students of the arts, so that percussionists can learn from Zakir Hussain, writers from Jennifer Egan, dancers from Suzanne Farrell. It's a remarkable opportunity for the students and a hallmark of Seven Days.

The festival also has expanded its K-12 offerings. Educational performances and opportunities available for K-12 students include a full performance by the Soweto Gospel Choir in Ruby Diamond Concert Hall and in-school performances by the Ahn Trio and Carolina Chocolate Drops.

"I'm definitely excited about stepping up our education program," said Steve MacQueen, director of Seven Days of Opening Nights. "It's one thing to talk about being a cultural leader in the community and another to get out there and do it. We're hoping to create opportunities for both artists and young audiences, and awareness of the arts in general, as well as getting exposure for our program."

The full Seven Days of Opening Nights schedule for this season is as follows:

  • Sept. 22-23 — Monica Bill Barnes & Company: One of the hottest young dancer/choreographers in New York, Barnes mixes comedy, pathos, movement and inventive uses of music to create entire worlds onstage.
  • Sept. 28 — Zakir Hussain: Indian tabla player Hussain is universally acknowledged as one of the world's greatest musicians, and a prime architect of the world music movement. For this show, he will be joined by flautist Raksesh Chaurasia for an evening of Indian classical music.
  • Feb. 4 — Christian McBride & Inside Straight: Considered one of the top bassists in the field of jazz, McBride will perform as bandleader of his group, Inside Straight. The show also caps the first annual FSU Jazz Festival.
  • Feb. 9 — Soweto Gospel Choir: In just a decade of existence, this South African choir has become a global sensation, earning two Grammy Awards and performing sold-out concerts to rave reviews around the world.
  • Feb. 10 — "Thread of Life" and "Splendid Treasures of the Turkomen": This dual exhibit from the FSU Museum of Fine Arts offers an array of textiles and an assortment of handcrafted jewelry by the nomadic desert-dwellers of the Turkomen tribes.
  • Feb. 10 — Jennifer Egan: Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel "A Visit from the Goon Squad," Egan brings her unique voice and style to Florida State.
  • Feb. 11 — Saturday Matinee of the Arts: The Tallahassee Museum's popular Matinee of the Arts presents a rich lineup of visual and performing arts, including live music on the outdoor stage and in the museum's historic buildings.
  • Feb. 11-12 — Ahn Trio: Composed of three Korean sisters educated at Juilliard, the Ahn Trio has created new energy and excitement in chamber music. The trio will perform two shows — one at FSU, the other at Thomasville's Pebble Hill Plantation — as well as meeting with both university and K-12 students.
  • Feb. 11 — PRISM: Featuring top music students from Florida State's world-renowned wind and percussion programs, PRISM covers the spectrum of band activities at FSU — Florida State Chamber Winds, the Campus Band, University Concert Band, Seminole Sound, University Symphonic Band, University Wind Orchestra and, of course, the Marching Chiefs.
  • Feb. 12-14 — National Theatre of Scotland's "Long Gone Lonesome": The internationally acclaimed National Theatre of Scotland makes its Florida debut with "Long Gone Lonesome," the true story of a Scottish fisherman obsessed with American blues and country music.
  • Feb. 13 — Wroclaw Symphony Orchestra with pianist Garrick Ohlsson: The majestic Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra roars into town, joined by Ohlsson, piano soloist for Beethoven's splendid Piano Concerto No. 4.
  • Feb. 14 — Jane Monheit: A gifted vocalist whose sincere and romantic interpretations have made her a favorite in both the jazz and cabaret worlds, Monheit offers a perfect Valentine's Day concert.
  • Feb. 15 — Joan Rivers: The comedy legend brings her hilariously raw, profane view of life to the Ruby Diamond stage. In her 50-year career, Rivers has been up and down plenty of times, but she has always been funny.
  • Feb. 16 — Suzanne Farrell Ballet: The Eppes Professor of Dance at Florida State, Farrell is the most influential American ballerina of the past 50 years. She now heads her own company, which is committed to carrying forth the legacy of George Balanchine through performances of his classic ballets.
  • Feb. 17 — Allen Toussaint/Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue: Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer Toussaint is the most prominent figure in New Orleans music in the past 50 years, having written dozens of hits, produced numerous records, and performed with a who's-who of popular music. Trombone Shorty is the leader of New Orleans' younger generation, a scintillating live performer with unbelievable chops.
  • Feb. 18 — Golden Dragon Acrobats: The world-renowned Golden Dragon Acrobats deliver one spine-tingling feat after another, including the Dancing Plates, the Diablo Yo-Yo and the Tower of Chairs. With jugglers, acrobats, contortionists and all-around daredevils, the show will offer up dizzying entertainment.
  • Feb. 18-19 — ZviDance: At most live shows, cell phones are forbidden, but for ZviDance's 7 Days performance of "Zoom," cell phones are most certainly encouraged. Audience members use their cell phones to comment on the dance in real time, with their comments projected above the stage.
  • Feb. 19 — Carolina Chocolate Drops: The Grammy-Award-winning string band seeks to keep the centuries-old string music tradition alive and developing.
  • Feb. 20 — Geoffrey Gilmore presents A Movie You Haven't Seen Yet V: Indie-film guru Gilmore returns to show Tallahassee audiences a movie that hasn't been released yet. As ever, no one knows what the film will be until Gilmore introduces it. So far, he's delivered one winner after another.
  • Feb. 26 — Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio: The acclaimed Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio presents the premiere of a new work by Pulitzer-Prize-winning composer (and FSU faculty member) Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, co-commissioned by Seven Days of Opening Nights.
  • March 21 — Bela Fleck & the Flecktones (with original lineup): Groundbreaking banjoist/composer/bandleader Fleck reconvenes the original Flecktones for the first time in 18 years. All manner of musical genres will come into play — from classical and jazz to bluegrass, African music, electric blues and Eastern European folk.
  • April 1 — Sarah Vowell: The acclaimed author of five bestselling books and a contributing editor for public radio's "This American Life," Vowell uses bone-dry wit and irreverent humor to explore the connections between the American past and present.

Ticket sales for Seven Days members begin on Friday, Sept. 23, and run through Wednesday, Oct. 12. Tickets for the general public go on sale Oct. 13.

For more information on this year's schedule of events, visit or call (850) 644-7670.

FSU launched the Seven Days of Opening Nights festival in 1999, and it was an immediate success. Although the festival has grown longer than its name suggests, most people now know that "Seven Days" is a metaphor for quality, not a measure of quantity.

9 September 2011

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