By Claire Murray | The Duquesne Duke
The Tamburitzans, Duquesne’s multicultural song and dance company, recently performed for Croatian president Ivo Josipović.
The event on Sept. 26 was held in the group’s administration building off of Forbes Avenue. The performance lasted about 20 minutes, but Josipović stayed for over an hour to introduce himself to each member of the group, according to junior performer Boban Petrovic.
Earlier in the year, group director Paul Stafura received an email from a senior alumnus in contact with the Croatian embassy in the United States. The embassy was looking for an ethnic-based event for the president to attend during his visit to Pittsburgh. The alumnus mentioned to the embassy that the Tamburitzans meet for rehearsal every Friday night.
After Stafura spoke with the embassy, the Chief of Protocol for Josipović and an advanced crew from the embassy came to watch the group rehearse.
“They liked the building, they liked what they saw and they said that they definitely wanted to do it,” Stafura said.
Stafura said Josipović visited Pittsburgh to be with the Croation Fraternal Union of America in Monroeville and “to stop and see the Tamburitzans.”
“It was a once in a life time opportunity,” sophomore performer Madeleine O’Neil said.
The group started their performance with traditional music from the region of Baranja, Croatia, followed by songs and dances featuring intricate steps and peasant voices.
Then the musicians accompanied a woman’s vocal song called “Podravski Čardaš.” Dances from “Banat” ended the performance, highlighting fast footwork, tricks, a girl’s song and a couples’ dance.
According to Stafura, the performance brought Josipović to tears.
Petrovic said the performance was very special for the group because “we have never performed for someone so important.”
“The experience was very exciting for me,” Petrovic said. “We are performing mostly every weekend. I have a lot of experience dancing in front of people, but it’s a little different when we perform for a president.”
Petrovic moved to the United States from Macedonia in 2011 to attend Duquesne. He is one of five international students involved with the Tamburitzans. Two other students came from Macedonia, one from Serbia and one from Bulgaria. Some of the other students have Eastern European heritages, but the ensemble is open to anyone through an audition process.
Currently, the ensemble consists of 29 members. This year marks the Tamburitzans’ 77th season and features dances and songs strictly from Eastern Europe and surrounding neighbors. The show changes every year.
The Tamburitzan season starts in the middle of July with a 25 day camp held at Washington and Jefferson University, where the performers learn the entire show. In addition to their local events, the group travels to perform in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida each year.
The Tamburitzans’ next on-campus performance will be held on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Union Ballroom for free.