Our Transition

The winds of change have moved through The Tamburitzans…


The Tamburitzans officially began at Duquesne University as a group of 14 young men who played the tamburica, a stringed instrument predominant in the music of Balkan cultures. Intrigued and encouraged by the popular appeal of this musical style, Dr. A. Lester Pierce brought his talented “Slavonic Tamburitza Orchestra” to the culturally rich city of Pittsburgh, PA in 1937 with hopes of garnering support for the ensemble from Duquesne University. The proposition was a success — and the rest is eight decades of glorious history.

On September 5, 2014, Duquesne University announced that The Tamburitzans would become an independent, nonprofit organization over the next 2 to 3 years, and for the first time would audition and accept students from other Pittsburgh-based universities, as well as Duquesne.

The move was envisioned to help increase the ensemble’s applicant pool, allow for a more robust performance schedule — and thus more operating revenue — and position the group to more broadly pursue charitable support from individuals, the foundations community, corporations and government agencies.

To help ensure the ensemble’s success, Duquesne University announced that it would provide significant support, and subsequently bestowed more than $2 million in buildings, land, costumes, instruments, vehicles and equipment to the troupe. In addition, the University committed to provide operating fund support throughout the transition as the new nonprofit expands the ensemble, increases its performance schedule and implements a fundraising operation.

Tamburitzans leadership also has seen recent changes. All Duquesne University alumni, Executive Director Robert Vukic (’78), Artistic Director George “Butch” Kresovich (’80) and Tour Manager George Salopek (’76) joined The Tamburitzans team in key leadership roles. Their charge is to lead the current organization and ensemble forward to achieve new financial and artistic goals.