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Culture worthy of your calendar

Josh Garrick

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ArtsFest 2011 offers 220 free events!

For culture-lovers, United Arts kicks off its annual fundraising campaign with ArtsFest, an extraordinary celebration of free cultural events including 220 events in 81 venues throughout Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Free, free, free – Yes, from Feb. 4-13, all ArtsFest events are free, allowing you and your family to sample everything the Central Florida arts community has to offer, including dozens of new events and new organizations. Most events require reservations, so use that cell phone, show up and enjoy. For the full schedule of events, visit ArtsFestFL.com or pick up a schedule at any arts organization or call 407-363-5816. As they say at United Arts, “ArtsFest is all arts, all week, all free!”

The German State Philharmonic

If the “variety” of ArtsFest is overwhelming, the one ‘not-to-be-missed’ cultural event of this week is the performance by the German State Philharmonic on Friday, Feb. 4. Counted among the great ensembles in Europe, the German Philharmonic adds to the event with guest pianist Sebastian Knauer, the brilliance of Conductor Philippe Entremont (who will also play the piano during the performance of Mozart’s Concerto for 2 Pianos No.10), and Soprano Julie Cherrier. The German State Philharmonic is “the musical voice of the Rhineland region of Germany,” and this is the Orchestra’s first U.S. tour. Presented by the Festival of Orchestras, the performance will take place at Northland Church’s 3,100-seat performing arts center, which is already becoming known for its comfort and sound quality. It’s located at 530 Dog Track Road in Longwood. Call 407-539-0245 or visit festivaloforchestras.org

The Glitz Gala

The art lovers of Maitland are a determined group, so it is no surprise that a new group is being formed with a mission to update their (built-in-1965) Civic Center. This may take the form of incorporating a performing arts complex and school, or perhaps build a brand new structure. Called the Maitland Cultural Corridor Project, Renee Stein Charlan is taking on a leadership role with an event called the Glitz Gala. Set for Feb. 12, the money raised will further the planning for the project. Admitting the idea is in its infancy, Charlan will begin by asking the Maitland community what they would want from their new arts center. Should you wish to help — and party in “glitzy style” — the Glitz Gala is at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12 in the Maitland Civic Center. The black-tie optional fundraiser promises an open bar, live and silent auctions, and music by the Maitland Stage Band. Tickets may be purchased from Renee Charlan at 407-376-3915 or June Flowers at 321-303-1404.

Florida in the Civil War

Even in history books, Florida draws the short straw when it comes to our state’s rarely acknowledged contributions to the Civil War. Some of that oversight will be corrected as the Orange County Regional History Center presents “Florida in the Civil War.” The exhibit will show how Florida shipped salt and beef to the Confederacy while surviving the Union blockade of our coastline. Visitors may view artifacts including items from the Union steamship Maple Leaf, sunk by a Confederate mine, an officer’s sword from the 7th New Hampshire Infantry, and a Colt revolver. Guests will discover which Lincoln assassination conspirator is buried in Central Florida, confront the decisions facing a slave and a soldier, and hear music of the era. Children may try on soldier’s uniforms, girls’ period costumes and other clothing. The History Center is housed in the beautifully restored 1927 courthouse in downtown Orlando and also features three floors of permanent exhibitions. Visit thehistorycenter.org or call 407-836-8500.