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Arts calendar

Real Quiet, a shifty band that hops through classical, pop and genre hyphenates, will kick off the USC School of Music's "Southern Exposure Concert Series" at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

"Southern Exposure" features edgy music that can't be easily categorized. Is it minimalist? Is it experimental? Is it classical?

Does classification even apply?

"When people think about classical music, they tend to think of it as if it's a dead tradition. As if it's a museum," said USC professor John Fitz Rogers.

Classical music, Rogers pointed out, continues to grow, just like other art such as film, theater and, if you're not counting reality programming, TV.

Real Quiet, a trio that includes David Cossin (percussion), Felix Fan (cello) and Andrew Russo (piano), will play five works, including the world premiere of "Things Like That" by Jacob ter Veldhuis, a Dutch composer known for writing pieces that requires dissection and discussion.

"This is music that is relevant, entertaining and emotionally gripping," Rogers said. "There's this whole world of music that you're not going to hear on commercial radio."

Other compositions on the program include Annie Gosfield's "Wild Pitch," Phil Klein's "The Last Buffalo," Lou Harrison's "Varied Trio" and Marc Mellits' "Tight Sweater." Mellits will give a public lecture 2:30-4 p.m. Friday in room 210 of the school of music.

The music played might not be familiar, but the response to the series has been: a packed room. If you don't get there early, you're not going to have a seat.

"You look around the room at 'Southern Exposure,' and it's like the demographics of Columbia," Rogers said. "It's wildly diverse, like the music we present."

Of course, you could donate $75 to the series, and you'll be able to reserve a seat 15 minutes before performances, which will be held in the school of music's recital hall, 813 Assembly St. Free; (803) 777-4280

"The State Art Collection: Contemporary Conversations," a traveling exhibition of works by South Carolina artists, will open at 701 Center for Contemporary Art on Thursday. The exhibition will be installed in two parts. The first runs through Nov. 1, and the second will be exhibited Nov. 5-Dec. 6.

Works by more than 90 contemporary South Carolina artists will be seen. Within the pieces, art viewers will be engaged by a dialogue of concerns and feelings of these state artists. It will be art as a history lesson.

701 CCA is at 701 Whaley. Gallery hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Friday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Information: 701cca.org.

The 2009-10 Baker & Baker Art of Music Series will feature five programs that seek to cross the lines of art, music and culture. The first of the concerts, which will be held at the Columbia Museum of Art, is at 3 p.m. today.

There will be a discussion and musical illustration of William Bouguereau's painting "Far From Home." Neil Casey will color with his violin strings, while Peter A. Hoyt, the museum's adjunct curator of music, will discuss the darker qualities of the painting and the music it inspires.

The museum is at Main and Hampton streets. $7 or free for museum members; (803) 799-2810

"The Big Read: Stark Raven Mad," the month-long salute to writer Edgar Allan Poe, officially gets started Friday with poet Meg Kearney at the Columbia Museum of Art.

Kearney is the director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts.

She will read from her work, including "An Unkindness of Ravens," and she will discuss selections from The Big Read's featured book, "Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe."

There are nearly 30 Big Read events, including readings of Poe's work, screenings of horror films, lectures and performances.

Kearney's event, which is free, begins at 6:30 p.m. All those in attendance will get a copy of the featured book. The museum is at Main and Hampton streets. Information on The Big Read: artsinstitute.sc.edu.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church opens its Autumn Concerts series with a performance by The Three Baritones at 4 p.m. today. The Baritones - Hal MacIntosh, Jacob Will and Marc Rattray - will perform songs from various genres, injecting humor into the performance.

The church is at 1715 Bull St. Free; (803) 779-0030

Columbia City Ballet will launch its 2009-10 season with the third-annual "Dancing Under the Stars" fundraising gala at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Arcade Mall on Main Street.

The gala, Carnevale di Venezia, will feature custom Venetian masks, Villa Tronco's Italian cuisine and red carpet photos. Costumes are encouraged, and black tie is optional.

Company dancers will perform vignettes throughout the evening, and Claude Buckley will paint live during the event. There will also be fire performers, modern Italian dance music mixed by DJ Deft Key and a silent auction, with items including pointe shoes painted by local artists.

Tickets cost $75 or $100, which includes a mask. Tickets can be purchased online at brownpapertickets.com. Information: (803) 799-7605 or columbiacityballet.com.

The World Symphonic Jazz Orchestra, USC's newest student orchestra, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the USC School of Music Recital Hall. The music featured will have a range of styles and elements, with sounds interpreted from the Middle East to the Caribbean to North Africa.

The recital hall is at 813 Assembly St. Free; (803) 777-4280

The USC Dance Company will open its season Friday and Saturday at Koger Center. At 7:30 both nights, the company will perform "On The Edge: Classics to Contemporary." The entire second act will feature the romantic ballet "Giselle," staged by artist-in-residence Kyra Strasberg. The performance will also feature an original contemporary work from choreographer Alan Hineline, and USC Dance instructor Tanya Wideman-Davis will dance an original contemporary piece.

The Koger Center is at 1051 Greene St. $11 to $17; (803) 251-2222

ON SALE

"Tap Dogs," billed as "the most successful tap show of all time," will step into Columbia for two performances Oct. 21 and 22 at the Koger Center. Tickets, which cost $35 to $48, go on sale at 9 a.m. Monday at the Carolina Coliseum. Tickets can also be purchased online at broadwayincolumbia.com or by calling (803) 251-2222.

HELD OVER

Workshop Theatre's production of "The Producers" is continuing its, well, production for four more dates. The play, which is about a play that was intended to be sabotaged before becoming a hit, has had a similar result at Workshop. The four added dates: 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Workshop Theatre is at 1136 Bull St. $14 to $20; (803) 799-6551

- Otis R. Taylor Jr.

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