Who says the Dallas Symphony Orchestra doesn't know how to throw a birthday party? OK, so maybe the words "moderated discussion" don't conjure images of a crunk b-day throwdown, but the DSO's weekend-long celebration of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center's 15th anniversary does have something for those with a modicum of culture. The par-tay begins Thursday and Friday with DSO and Dallas Symphony Chorus performances of Beethoven's masterpiece, his ninth symphony. How important is this symphony? Well, a standard compact disc was originally formatted to hold about 74 minutes of music. Why? Because that's about how long Beethoven's ninth runs. So there. Saturday, the DSO sets aside an event for the black-tie crowd with the AT&T gala featuring a performance by Itzhak Perlman--who is to the violin what Yo-Yo Ma is to the cello, Bela Fleck is to the banjo and J.Lo is to the bootie. As well, Perlman, to this day, makes a man-perm seem stylish. Sunday gives us the aforementioned moderated discussion with Meyerson architect I.M. Pei as well as Morton H. Meyerson himself. There's also a free family-friendly festival from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. featuring a kid's parade, music and entertainers. Tickets and info are available at 214-692-0203 or www.DallasSymphonySummer.com. --Eric Celeste
The Pen is Mightier
No date on the calendar carries more--more hate, more pain, more memories, more confusion, more metaphors, more political stances, more wars--than September 11. It is, by no coincidence, that the Writer's Garret has scheduled a reading at Paperback Plus for "Writers Against the War" on that date. At 7:30 p.m., North Texas authors and poets, among them Bob McCranie, a founding member of the Dallas Poets Community, will read from their work and the work of others to make, as the Writer's Garret calls it, a "peaceful declaration." In October, the Garret gives the other side a chance with "Writers in Support of the War," but, on Saturday, the only ones reading will be those who believe--as the Garret says--"in word, not war (at least, not this war.)" Still, it won't be too fiery. There will be readings only, no forums to discuss the war in Iraq or the Bush administration. The event is free and takes place at 6115 La Vista Drive. Call 214-828-1715. --Paul Kix
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If you think having fully developed sets, costumes or fancy lighting is for pansies, then come see Theatre Three, 2800 Routh St., kick off its new season of the Appetizer Attraction Series. It begins with a staged reading of Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey's A Woman of Independent Means, a play about a privileged Dallas woman with a free spirit but tragic existence. Performances will run September 12 through September 21, and, as the series' name hints, free appetizers will be provided before each show. Call 214-871-3300 or visit www.theatre3dallas.com. --Mary Monigold
Byrne, Baby, Byrne
Cerebral music from a former Head to your head
Whether you're a fan of his idiosyncratic pop masterpieces with the Talking Heads or of his more recent world music wanderings, David Byrne promises to deliver a healthy sampling of both with his My Backwards Life Tour. He looks a little bit like Steve Martin these days with a shock of white hair. Age may have mellowed the one-time musical control freak's ego, but his songs are still masterful collages of off-kilter rhythms and head-scratching melodies topped off with his high-pitched warbles and yowls. He still puts the art in art rock. David Byrne performs Monday at 8 p.m. at Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. Tickets are $32 to $100. Call 817-212-4280 or visit www.basshall.com. --Jay Webb