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Tamburitzans coming to Tarpon Springs
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The Duquesne University Tamburitzans bring folk dance and music to the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, Saturday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m.
TARPON SPRINGS - The Duquesne University Tamburitzans bring folk dance and music to the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, Saturday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday matinee is sold out.

The Tamburitzans is the longest-running American folk ensemble dedicated to the artistic performance of folk music, song and dance. Colorful and spellbinding, it is the best of culture and tradition.

An annual tradition for the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, this high energy and supremely talented group present a new program of traditional folk dances, costumes and music from Eastern Europe.

Tickets are $28 and $24 for members and students with ID. Call 727-942-5605 or buy online at TarponArts.org.

Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center is at 324 Pine St., Tarpon Springs.

The Tamburitzans History

When Dr. A. Lester Pierce met tamburitza musicians Matt L. Gouze, Frank Gouze, and Anthony Antoncic at St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Minnesota in the early 1930s, his intrigue with the folk instrument sparked an idea, which has endured as one of the world's finest, longest-running live stage shows of its kind.

Pierce was able to secure a position for himself at the college and at the same time, negotiated work scholarships, and formed the "St. Thomas Tamburitza Trio."

In 1934, Pierce transferred to St. Edward's University in Austin Texas and expanded the group to seven members to form the "St. Edward's University Players," later to be called "American Tamburitza String Orchestra." He continued to be the managing director, while Matt Gouze assumed the position of musical director.

In 1937, after a two and a half-year residency, the young troupe headed east with their musical variety show, stopping in Pittsburgh, Pa. Impressed with the cultural diversity of the city, Pierce accepted a faculty appointment, made a permanent home for the ensemble, and secured a work-scholarship agreement with Duquesne University. Shortly thereafter, this newly formed group, now called "Slavonic Tamburitza Orchestra," would be known as the "Duquesne University Tamburitzans."

The word "Tamburitzans" was actually coined by a Duquesne University reporter sometime during the late 1940s.

From these simple beginnings, the Tamburitzans ensemble, named after the stringed folk instrument, the tambura or tamburitza, expanded its repertoire throughout the past seven decades to include a wide variety of folk dance and music representing Eastern Europe and many neighboring cultures.

Seventy-five years, several international tours, hundreds of performers and tens of thousands of audience members later, the Tamburitzans' show is an annual tradition for some and a delightful new surprise for others.

Besides producing the longest-running live stage show in the country, the Tamburitzans organization is also a cultural and historical legacy at Duquesne University and in Pittsburgh. A part of Duquesne University's Division of Student Life, the Tamburitzans Department is housed in the Tamburitzans Administration Building. It is home to offices, rehearsal space, wardrobe department, a library, special collections and displays.

Hundreds of books, costumes and instruments, as well as a significant music and film collection are housed in this building just a few blocks from Duquesne University's main campus.

How do Tamburitzans become Tamburitzans?

Most Tamburitzans saw their first concert as children, belonged to a children's performing group, took private lessons, had parents who took a keen interest in their artistic progress, and most important, worked hard at perfecting their talents prior to auditioning for a position in the ensemble.

After a general audition, either in person at the Tamburitzans Administration Building, or via video (many applicants live across the country or overseas, and cannot travel to Pittsburgh), those applicants who meet the academic and talent criteria necessary to fill vacancies in the ensemble are chosen to compete in an all-day session similar to the rigors of a day of Tamburitzans production camp.

Just as in the sports world, the judging panel, comprised of Tamburitzans staff and local experts in the fields of musical, vocal and dance performance, scrutinizes all hopefuls, and makes the next round of selections. Interviews with the finalists are held, and final selections are made, transforming those chosen into Tamburitzans - members of one of the world's most unique groups of performing artists.
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