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Familiar sounds and indescribable sights

Three world-class acts will bring art forms ranging from traditional New Orleans jazz to a 3-D digital opera to the Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The venerable Preservation Hall Jazz Band brings its vintage New Orleans jazz sound to the center for a concert at 8 p.m. Jan. 16. The seven-piece Preservation Hall jazz band plays traditional New Orleans jazz, which predates the more commercial Dixieland sound.

The band's song list includes Just A Closer Walk With Thee, My Bucket's Got A Hole In It, I Get The Blues When It Rains, Shake It and Break It and Pallet on the Floor.

Preservation Hall, on St. Peters Street in New Orleans, is the epicenter of the American jazz movement. The music is known for its improvisational style, borrowing elements from blues, classical and ragtime.

Preservation Hall features jazz bands that have toured the United States and abroad for more than 30 years. They generally consist of five to seven pieces, with the trumpet usually the musical leader. The musicians do not know what they will play from concert to concert, beyond the opening and closing numbers. As the evening progresses, the musicians decide what comes next based on their instinct for sizing up the audience.

For classical music lovers, award-winning violinist Viktoria Mullova performs at 8 p.m. Jan. 26 at the center. Mullova performs works by Bach, Stravinsky and Beethoven.

Fans and critics alike have become spellbound by the myriad sounds she can bring out of her 1732 Stradivarius violin. She is a commanding soloist who mesmerizes audiences with her powerful concerts.

A Russian defector in the early 1980s, she pursued her craft to become an international star and was nominated for a Grammy in 1995.

She has appeared with most of the world's greatest orchestras and conductors and at the major international festivals. Mullova's enthusiasm for exploring the full potential of her instrument is demonstrated by a diverse repertoire that includes authentic interpretations of Baroque composers.

Her latest recording, the Bartok and Stravinsky concertos with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was released early in 1998.

The shows at the center shift from the world of music to the world of 3-D art with the presentation of Monsters of Grace at 8 p.m. Jan. 27.

The show is an experimental production of film, music and 3-D stereoscopic animation. Monsters of Grace was conceived by filmmaker Robert Wilson and composer Philip Glass. It debuted in Los Angeles in April 1998.

The film features virtual actors described as "Synthespians." They were created by adding 3-D scans of live actors' heads to frame-animated bodies. The work is described as a digital opera in three dimensions. The creators describe the show as a meditation. It moves at the slow pace of 24 frames per minute, as opposed to the normal film speed of 24 frames per second. Among the film's virtual effects are a child's hand caressing a sleeping polar bear and a little boy riding a bicycle past glowing houses.

What does it all mean?

That, according to the creators, is open to the viewer's interpretation.

The center will provide 3-D glasses to patrons.

The Center for the Performing Arts is at 34th Street and Hull Road on the University of Florida campus. For information and ticket prices, call the box office at (800) 905-2787.