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'Seven Days of Opening Nights' Starts This Month

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Many years ago, Florida State University’s annual “Seven Days of Opening Nights” didn’t run much longer than a literal week.  But now the event provides more than half-a-year of great performances, starting this month.

Every year, since it began back in 1999, the Seven Days of Opening Nights festival has had one overriding challenge…how to make each year better than what came before.

"I mean there are times when you'd like to bring a Wynton Marsalis or someone of that ilk back every few years.  But really  the community is demanding new things that have never come to Tallahassee.  That's what they want to see." 

That’s Chris Heacox, the guy who’s been in charge of Seven Days since 2009.  The festival used to gear up shortly after the first of the year, but Heacox says the schedule has gotten steadily earlier.  This go around, the series kickoff is on the twenty-fourth of this month.

"We're bringing in Adam Johnson who is an FSU creative writing alum.  He teaches at Stanford University and won the Pulitzer  Prize for Fiction in 2013 for his book 'The Orphan Master's Son'."

Does that mean Seven Days of Opening Nights, as so many people have charged, focuses only on high-falutin’, stuff for the cultural elites?  Heacox says, “not on your life.”

"Right after that, the next day, we have country music superstar Clint Black performing his acoustic show at Ruby Diamond  Auditorium."

There’s not only writing and music, thought.  There’s also dance.

"In October we have Tere O'Connor.  Tere is a Doris Duke Performing Artist winner this year.  He's a choreographer and had  done a tremendous amount of work for his company at MANCC (The Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography) and the  dance department and has created a lot of work."

As we mentioned at the start, Seven Days of Opening Nights has a tradition of attracting at least one international artistic superstar a year and Heacox says that tradition continues.

"Really the big kickoff is in January when we have Itzhak Perlman coming back.  He hasn't been here in 31 years and   he'll perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto with our university symphony orchestra under the baton of Alex Jimenez.  We're  really excited to bring him back."

Also on the “back by popular demand list;

"One of the interesting ones is bringing the Urban Bush Women here.  I think they were here many, many years ago, but  they're celebrating a big anniversary this year and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar who's the artistic director and is on the faculty  of Florida State, she and I started discussing what her next project was when I first got here and I was like, 'We have to  do this'."

And the great performances keep on coming through the end of April.

"We have blues guitarist Johnny Lang, we have multi-Grammy winner Eighth Blackbird.  Of course everyone's talking about  having comedian Lewis Black here and just on and on and on.  We're just very fortunate to be able to have these great  artists and performers coming to Tallahassee."

Tickets for all Seven Days of Opening Nights performances go on sale Tuesday, September seventeenth.