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Posted: Friday, April 07, 2000

It's hard to imagine the amount of music about to descend on the capital city.

There will be 140 concert acts, a dozen dances, two dozen music and dance workshops and hundreds of hours of jamming in the next week. The 26th annual Alaska Folk Festival starts Monday and runs through Sunday, April 16. I'm one of the organizers for the festival, but that's not why I'm recommending it.

There is no charge to participate in any of the Folk Festival events, and no age restrictions. It's a good-natured talent show and everyone's invited to come.

Some performers lack experience and others are seasoned professionals, but the entertainment value is high. It can be as much fun to see your co-workers and neighbors playing their hearts out, singing original songs or dancing with their kids as it is to watch a polished virtuoso perform excerpts from her new CD.

Keep in mind the term folk is used very broadly. Bluegrass, jazz, political satire, Gypsy and Irish music, gospel, salsa, swing, country, Cajun and klezmer are styles heard every year, and dozens of songwriters and bands unveil original compositions. Rock and classical musicians also perform.

Concerts run from 7 to 10:30 p.m. every night, with a new act on stage every 15 minutes. Dances are next Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the National Guard Armory, with each band playing a one-hour set. Workshops are Saturday and Sunday in Centennial Hall.

Check the Empire Sunday or grab a program Monday night for a complete list. It's a good idea to hang on to a program and mark your personal highlights. If you don't make it down, the entire festival is also broadcast on KTOO-FM.

If you're interested in the behind-the-scenes view, or if you want to learn about concert production, sound and stage work, come to the Alaska Folk Festival stage crew workshop, 4:30 Sunday at Centennial Hall. You can learn how to set up microphones, work with a sound system and sound crews and even work on stage during the festival.

Another musical showcase takes place this Saturday. It's on a smaller scale and comprehensive within a single genre, but it promises to be an entertaining overview. A Night at the Opera: A Night of Love, Lies and Laughter, is the season finale for the Juneau Symphony and Juneau Lyric Opera. The show starts at 8 p.m. Saturday at the JDHS auditorium.

The symphony will join a chorus of Juneau Lyric Opera singers on stage, and soloists Joyce Parry Moore, Kathleen and Dan Wayne and Bill Garry will be featured. The groups are presenting more than a dozen excerpts from various operas, billing the event as a night of opera's greatest hits. Advance tickets are $12, $10 for students and seniors, and tickets are $2 more at the door.

The University of Alaska Southeast is hosting a free public writing seminar this weekend, called ``A Community of Speakers, Writers and Thinkers: Focus on Family in Literature and the Writing Process.'' You can see how writing is developed for performance in a ``Page to the Stage'' workshop at 7 tonight. Saturday there's a panel presentation with poets, authors and a playwright from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, in the Egan Library at UAS. The line-up of guests includes David Hunsaker, Anni Stokes, Susie Fowler, Andy Hope, Helena Fagan and Jim Hale, and the Theatre in the Rough.

The P.E.O. Attic Art Show is worth checking out as an art exhibit. There will be more than 100 pieces on display - new works, originals and prints, and a variety of media. The show and sale is Sunday afternoon at DIPAC Hatchery, beginning at 12:30.

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