The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


August 22, 2012

Cultural celebration | Garavuse, all-female Croatian band, in concert Sept. 3

Ever since Croatians left their farms in Eastern Europe to arrive in Johnstown after the 1889 Flood, their rich heritage has endured.

As part of a cultural tour and celebration of Balkan tradition, the Croatian Fraternal Union of America is presenting a special concert Sept. 3 in Johnstown.

Garavuse, an all-female tamburitza band, of Croatia will perform at 7:30 p.m. at the Croatian Hall, 612 Broad St. in Cambria City as part of an American tour.

Guest performers will include vocalist Zeljko Loncaric “Zec” and prim virtuoso Antun Nikolic “Tuca.”

Carol Ferencak of Westmont, event coordinator, said the musicians will  play authentic tamburitza instruments as well as wear traditional Croatian garb.

Ferencak, whose grandparents were born in the former Yugoslavia and emigrated to the United States in the early 1900s, grew up immersed in the Croatian language, music and culture.

“We expect to attract several hundred people to come to the concert, which will be enjoyable to young and old alike,” Ferencak said.

“This is a concert that an older generation just adored because it was a part of their heritage.”

But she was quick to point out that a person doesn’t have to be rooted in Eastern European traditions to enjoy the concert.

“Although I don’t play classical music while driving around in my car, when I attend a Johnstown Symphony concert, I find it magical and enjoyable,” she said.

“This performance is geared toward anyone who enjoys cultural music.”

The performers will play traditional instruments in the tamburitza family, which includes the prim, which plays lead; the brac, which plays lead and harmonies; the tamburitza cello, which plays counter melodies; the bugarija, which plays chords and rhythm; and the tamburitza bass, which plays bass lines.

“You can’t get any more authentic when it comes to this music because it comes straight from Croatia,” Ferencak said.

Tambura band Garavuse cultivates traditional and popular music from all Croatian regions, classical works and instrumentals.

Ferencak said the all-female band carries on the history and tradition of the Croatian heritage.

Zec is a singer/composer whose songs and performances have been called inspiring by critics.

While becoming a successful composer and performer through television, radio and concerts, he always kept in touch with the public.

His style of singing is culturally different to the area of Slavonia, Croatia.

Tuca is a legend on the tamburitza (prim) throughout Croatia.

Many tamburitza musicians of Slavonia were guided by his intricate interpretations.

He helped to keep the folk traditions of Slavonia, Croatia, pure while developing the music through his playing, composing, arranging and teaching.

Admission is $5. Tickets will be  available at the door.


What: Croatian Fraternal Union of America Cultural Tour concert.

Where: Croatian Hall, 612 Broad St. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 3.

Tickets: At the door.

Cost: $5.

Information: 536-3765.

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