For the past fifteen years the Dade Heritage Trust (the county's largest historic preservation organization) has sponsored Dade Heritage Days, a celebration spotlighting South Florida's architecture, environment, and history. This year's theme is "A River of History," and for the next six weeks more than 100 events will occur countywide: home and neighborhood tours, lectures, films, architectural sails, and historic re-enactments. The fun begins tonight at 6:30 with a reception at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay, 495 Brickell Ave., and the official unveiling of the Mary Brickell statue at the corner of Brickell Avenue and SW Fifth Street. Tomorrow the exhibition "Historic Coral Gables in Photographs" goes on display at Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way. And on Saturday, Lummus Park, NW Third Street and North River Drive, hosts Miami RiverDay, a free festival honoring our murky waterway. Hop on a water taxi and check out the river, stroll through adjoining areas such as Spring Garden, or just hang out in the park and enjoy live entertainment and an array of food. See "Calendar Events" for other activities. Call 358-9572. (NK)
Count photographer Steven Brooke among the scores of pilgrims who have been drawn to Jerusalem for religious or artistic reasons. Inspired by travel photographers of the Nineteenth Century and the vedusti (seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European painters who depicted structures that were pertinent to religious practice or found at biblical sites), Brooke journeyed to the Holy Land with his cameras in tow. Unlike his predecessors, he faced some difficulties: neglected antiquities, restricted access to religious sites, obstructed vistas, and more. Yet the 125 photographs that appear in "Steven Brooke: Views of Jerusalem and the Holy Land" reveal little of the hardship and lots of breathtaking images of Jerusalem's sacred and secular architecture and Israel's awe-inspiring landscape. The exhibition runs through June 7 at the Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park Ave., Miami Beach. Admission is five dollars. Call 673-7530 for hours. (NK)
A trek to one of the city's few Mexican restaurants is no longer necessary for those who want to hear a little mariachi music. Nydia Rojas is coming to town. Seventeen-year-old Rojas has released two albums (Florecer is the most recent) in the past two years and is quickly becoming known internationally as the mistress of mariachi. Steeped in classic technique, Rojas expands the limits of brass- and string-based regional Mexican music by including modern elements -- electric guitar, keyboards, drums -- in her work. The result: mariachi pop. She performs with the esteemed Mariachi Sol de Mexico tonight at 8:00 at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St. Tickets range from $16 to $36. Call 372-0925. (NK)
New Orleans has many things to offer: above-ground cemeteries, fantastic food, a great jazz culture, and Mr. Quintron. Quintron, a bizarre one-man band who surrounds himself with his "Quintrapions" (these include homemade electric rhythm machines and an old tube organ), rolls into town with his wife Miss Pussycat and her puppet show tonight for a little unconventionality. Further testimony to the musical quirkiness that awaits you this evening at Churchill's Hideaway (5501 NE Second Ave.) are the opening bands. It'll take a distinctive type of music aficionado to appreciate Aqua Fly (former Holy Terror Dan Hosker's new "musical" project), the Laundry Room Squelchers (local noisemeister Rat Bastard's "musical" project), and Mr. Entertainment and his Sol Arkestra (local eccentric Steve Toth joined by four former members of One-Eyed Kings and bassist Marty Joe Miller). Showtime for all this musical mayhem -- not forgetting Miss Pussycat and her puppets -- is 10:00 p.m. The cover charge is six dollars. Call 757-1807. (LB)
Two years ago Erikson Rojas left Cuba with his mother to come to Miami. No ordinary emigre, Rojas, now fifteen, is a piano prodigy, a precious asset in his oppressive homeland. So valued is he that his mother had to apply for a passport with a fake name to make sure her son was able to leave the country. Once Rojas and his mom landed in Miami, local professor William Dawson helped the boy land an audition to study at the prominent Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. One of four young musicians picked from 90 candidates, Rojas starts school this fall. To salute his good fortune, he performs today at 3:00 p.m. in the auditorium at Miami-Dade Community College's Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Avenue. On the bill: works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Lecuona, and some of the young musician's own compositions. Admission is free, but donations, which will go toward Rojas's education, will be accepted. Call 237-3068. (NK)
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Israel turns 50 this year and parties are going on all over the planet. Tonight the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and the Concert Association of Miami get together and throw their own bash, the Israel 50 Gala Concert. Performers include renowned Israeli-born violinist Itzhak Perlman and acclaimed, multiaward-winning composer and conductor John Williams, who will lead the Florida Philharmonic. What you'll hear: Bruch's Violin Concerto no.1 in G minor and Williams's Schindler's List, as well as other selections from his substantial repertoire of film scores. Showtime is 8:00 p.m. at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets range from $40 to $100; $250 gets you invited to a postshow dinner with the artists. Call 532-3491. (NK)
The enduring popularity of the G.I. Joe doll and all his martial accouterments prove that a considerable number of young boys have yet to give up their fantasies of donning camouflage gear and becoming soldiers. In Ralph Lowenstein's case, he got to live out those dreams. Although Lowenstein has spent most of his career in academia (he is dean emeritus of the School of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida), in 1948 he was a teenage commander of an Israeli tank. Hear Lowenstein reminisce about his unusual adolescence at 7:30 this evening at the Sanford L. Ziff Jewish Museum of Florida, 301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Admission is five dollars. Call 672-5044. (NK)
It's not surprising that late-nineteenth/ early-twentieth-century French composer Erik Satie wasn't taken very seriously during his lifetime. Traipsing around the streets of Paris in his trademark gray velvet suit and bowler hat, Satie frequented Montmartre cafes, where he made a living playing popular tunes on the piano. When he wrote his own musical works, he gave them idiosyncratic titles such as Flabby Preludes and Bureaucratic Sonata. Odd as he was, the composer -- a big influence on his buddies Debussy and Ravel -- is now considered a prominent figure in modern music. Get an idea of Satie's peculiarities when pianist Brigitte Bladou and actor Raymond Acquaviva team up for the theatrical recital Variations Satierik. Bladou performs compositions by Satie, Ravel, and Debussy; Acquaviva impersonates Satie, reciting texts (in French, English, and Spanish) that the composer wrote about his life, music, and the work of his friends. Showtime is 8:00 p.m. at Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 De Soto Blvd., Coral Gables. Tickets cost $20. Call 859-8760. (