FLORIDA ORCHESTRA: RACHMANINOFF'S SECOND
Stuart Malina didn't think the fanfare he was trying to compose would ever happen. The Florida Orchestra conductor wanted to create a three-minute piece in line with Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man. Other celebratory compositions have opened concerts this year in the Florida Fanfare Project.
Then a few weeks before the season opened, Malina revisited his idea and Fanfare for an Uncommon Orchestra just popped out.
"No deep meaning or purpose, although if you play it backwards on an LP it has a hidden message," said Malina, who has been dabbling with composition for decades. His fanfare opens this weekend's concert, Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2. Also on the menu is Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 with soloist Alex Kerr, a former concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.
Concerts start at 8 p.m. Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa; and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org.
TIME FOR TANGO: FROM BUENOS AIRES
In the history of tango, no one ranks higher than Argentine singer and composer Carlos Gardel, who created hundreds of short romantic songs perfect for the budding dance craze. Gardel died in a plane crash in 1935, but his legend lives on. Now a dance biopic about the "King of Tango" comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, as Tango Buenos Aires takes the audience through Latin America's most famous tango tunes. It should be a sizzling affair. 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Straz Center's Ferguson Hall, 1010 MacInnes Place, Tampa. $45-$55. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.
HIGH ENERGY: RED GRANT
Red Grant wins audiences over with a relentless barrage of no-holds-barred observational comedy from the moment he takes the stage. Witness his opening take correlating a baby's cuteness with the length or shortness of the adoring "Aww" from bystanders. (If it's long, they're cute; if short, they are "gargoyles.") The veteran of HBO's Def Comedy Jam, known for films with Katt Williams and a pair of Showtime specials, passes through the Straz Center at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Jaeb Theater. $15-$25; $50 for limited VIP seats with meet-and-greet. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.
IT'S MAIN STREET NOW: AVENUE Q
Avenue Q is back at Stageworks. The disarming, Sesame Street-style musical, with actors handling puppets continues to pack 'em in 13 years after taking top honors at the Tony Awards for best musical. The script by Jeff Whitey and songs by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx incorporates the range of characters in a rundown multicultural neighborhood with irreverence for political correctness, as demonstrated in songs like Everyone's a Little Bit Racist and The Internet Is for Porn.
Stageworks spokeswoman Ana Diaz-Diez said local audiences couldn't get enough of Avenue Q last year. "Even with additional performances, people wanted to go see it," Diaz-Diez said. "It's been selling really well, and we wanted to give them something for the holidays." Opens Friday and runs through Dec. 23 at Stageworks Theatre, 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. $30-$35. (813) 374-2416. For show times, to go stageworkstheatre.org.
SWEARING BY IT: The Book Of Mormon
The truth about The Book of Mormon its creators don't want you to know until you see it: Despite the profanity and sacrilege, it's actually pretty wholesome show. Its quirkily upbeat message, which has resounded as one of Broadway's most popular musicals in recent decades, is that you can be redeemed, no matter how badly you screwed up or how much even your church condemns you. Runs Tuesday-Dec. 6 at Tampa's Straz Center Tampa. $63.75 and up. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.
FEEL THE BEAT: PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE
Since the wildly diversified compositions of John Cage in the mid-20th century, percussion has emerged as its own solo art form. Composers such as Bob Becker, who mixed military and Hindu idioms; George Hamilton Green, a ragtime pioneer who reinvented the xylophone; and Nathan Daughtrey, a contemporary artist who performed and given master classes across the United States and three continents, factor prominently into a concert by the St. Petersburg College Percussion Ensemble. It's a blend of musical cultures, with new and established pieces. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at St. Petersburg College's Music Center, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 341-7984. spcollege.edu/artscalendar