Young American tamburitzans of Croatian descent will showcase their skills and talent in Zagreb in June
A year ago, the Junior Cultural Federation of the Croatian Fraternal Union (CFU) decided to hold the 52nd annual Junior Tamburitza Festival at Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall in Zagreb. As countless members of the Croatian diaspora living in the US share a dream to visit their ancestors’ homeland, the CFU’s decision to take traditional Croatian music back to its place of origin was surely welcomed by many.
It was Des Plaines in Illinois that hosted the first Junior Festival organised by CFU 52 years ago. The children’s home in Des Plaines, originally founded to provide Croatian orphans and refugees with a home in the US after World War I, kept its doors open after WWII as well, continuing to welcome children of all ages in need of protection and shelter. With time, several cultural activities have been introduced at the orphanage: a choir was formed first, followed by a tamburitza orchestra that took the kids on tours across the US. These days, it’s a nationwide movement. John Gornik and Joseph Kirasich, two of the members that participated in those activities since they were first launched, are nowadays skilled tamburitza players and music teachers, passing their knowledge and skills on to younger generations.
The Junior Tamburitza Festival was launched in 1966 by a couple of CFU members, including Bernard M. Luketich who later became the union’s president. The 50s and 60s were marked by a spike in popularity of Croatian folklore and traditional customs all over the US, resulting in the idea the Croatian diaspora’s heritage should be celebrated at one particular place – on the stage. Once a year, young members of the CFU were provided the opportunity to showcase their skills and talent; while there is no competitive factor to the festival, the event is taken very seriously and the participants practice and rehearse their acts for a long time. Folklore costumes are sewn especially for the festival after detailed, comprehensive research, involving both the kids and their parents in the preparations.
The Junior Festival takes place in a different city each year, making for another reason why the event has become so popular and widely known. It’s loved by both children and adults, as it often results in new friendships and ideas for future cultural manifestations.
This year, the Junior Tamburitza Festival of the CFU Junior Cultural Federation will be hosted by the Croatian capital for the 7th time since it was first formed. Organised by the Croatian Heritage Foundation, a welcoming concert will take place in Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall on June 29. More than 1500 guests of Croatian descent are expected to arrive from the US to Zagreb Airport in the last week in June.
The opening ceremony of the 52nd Junior Tamburitza Festival will kick off on June 30 at 1pm, gathering all festival participants on stage for a performance of national anthems and three selected pieces for tamburitza. The festival participants will be led by guest conductor Marija Krpan Kuren. After this glorious opening, 17 cultural-artistic societies from the US will perform for 12 minutes each, joined by one Croatian counterpart – KUD Sveti Juraj of Zagorje near Ogulin.
On Sunday, July 1, festival participants will attend a mass in Zagreb Cathedral at 11.30, followed by a lunch and entertainment in the afternoon.
On July 2, the guests will depart on round trips of Croatia, planned far in advance. This will be an ideal opportunity to get the youngest visitors of Croatian origin acquainted with natural and cultural wonders of their homeland. Some of them will also get a chance to meet their Croatian relatives for the first time – a truly unforgettable trip that will surely be filled with joy and emotions.
Source: Moja Hrvatska