World party: Visitors to Denver's sprawling Auraria campus are greeted by the picture of multiculturalism, as students from all walks of life crisscross its urban quads. Apropos to the wonderfully motley quality of the higher-education complex, a World Friendship Festival, held today from 10 to 2 at the Tivoli Student Center, celebrates diversity by offering the public a global palette of entertainment, edibles and arts, including performances by various dance groups, an Eastern European women's choir, storytellers and a reggae band. A job fair and workshop series lend a serious air to the event, but the general intent of the free fest is to have a good time. The Tivoli is on the campus, at 900 Auraria Pkwy.; call 556-8354, 556-6330 or 556-6329 for information.
Roll over, Beethoven: Fans of contemporary classical composers can finally stop grumbling about the trend toward conservative orchestral programming, at least for a weekend. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra, under the saucy direction of fourth-year veteran conductor Marin Alsop, dives into its new season by presenting a varied trio of modern works tonight at 8 as part of CU-Boulder's Artist Series at Macky Auditorium, and again at 7:30 Friday and Saturday and 2:30 Sunday at the usual CSO venue, Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. Christopher Rouse's The Infernal Machine, a short 1981 composition, opens the program, followed by Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, a difficult work performed with a guest soloist, CU faculty member Angela Cheng. Henryk Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs should prove a haunting finale, enhanced by the voice of Ukrainian soprano Oksana Krovytska. Macky tickets range from $10 to $30 (call 492-8008), while admission at Boettcher Hall is $5 to $38 (830-TIXS).
Your order, please: A pinch of this and a dash of that--put it all together and you've got a Naropa Institute InterArts Studies Faculty Concert, a charming bowl of kitchen-sink stew steaming with music, dance, film, video and vaudeville. Presented tonight and tomorrow at 8, the program features collaborations spanning those realms, with artists such as pianist Art Lande, choreographer Tandy Beal, Balinese musician I Made Lasmawan and Naropa theater maven Lee Worley providing the creative sparks. See the program at Naropa's Performing Arts Center, 2130 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder; for tickets, $4 to $8, call 444-0202.
Artists for art's sake: Big-name artists contributed limited-edition prints for Freedom of Expression, a show held jointly at galleries across the nation in support of political candidates and organizations that endorse federal funding for the arts. Arts entrepreneur Joshua Hassell and Open Press, Denver's own little fine-art print factory, at 40 W. Bayaud Ave. near Broadway, sponsor our local piece of the fundraising pie with a display of all-star works by Chuck Close, Jenny Holzer, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Susan Rothenberg, William Wegman and others, opening today and continuing through October 13. A reception will be held tonight from 5 to 9; donations of $500 or more net patrons the print of their choice. Call 778-1116 or 860-1478 for details. Also on display this week is a different animal of a benefit show at CORE New Art Space--this one equally earnest in intent, if not as star-studded. Seventeen artists, most of them members of CORE and other local arts cooperatives, each began a three-dimensional piece and then passed it around among the group for Collaborative Assemblage, a show featuring the reconstructed, deconstructed results. A silent auction of the unique works, benefiting the Alternative Arts Alliance, began at last Friday night's reception, but final bidding is still to come--it takes place this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. CORE is located at 1412 Wazee; call 571-4831.
New World charm: Some simply call it Jewish jazz, but the music made by the Klezmatics is just the beginning of an eclectic journey traversing not only the language of jazz, but touching on dozens of other musical references as well. Though they are proud purveyors of traditional klezmer strains--commonly based on a Yiddish-inflected combination of fiddle, clarinet, accordion, bass and drums heard at weddings, bar mitzvahs and other celebrations--the Klezmatics also take listeners on a wild ride through modern times, throwing in bits of anything and everything from Dixieland to hip-hop. They'll be playing it all with a carousing sense of abandon tonight at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., where they appear as guests of the Swallow Hill Music Association. Admission is $15 ($13 Swallow Hill members); call 1-800-444-SEAT for tickets. For more information call 777-1003.
Culture shock: This is the last time you'll ever accuse Denver of having no culture: Over the weekend, downtown will be inundated with literary readings, theater performances, ongoing hands-on art-installation projects, displays of gigantic puppet heads, dancers hanging from ropes and a world of live music, all of it free and open to the public. How does this happen? The Rocky Mountain Book Festival, a grand powwow of renowned authors and exhibitors taking place at Currigan Exhibition Hall, 1327 Champa St., and the Denver Performing Arts Festival, a spread of cultural events held in and around the vicinity of the Plex, 14th and Curtis streets, and Larimer Square, simultaneously get under way this morning at 10 for two full days of everything under the city sun. Come on down for an urban picnic: For book festival information, call 273-5933; for information on the arts festival, call 640-2758.