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New Future for the Tamburitzans

The Duquesne University Tamburitzans folk music and dance ensemble, known as “The Tammies,” will become an independent, nonprofit organization over the next two to three years, and for the first time will audition students from other universities, as well as Duquesne. The move will help increase the ensemble’s applicant pool, allow for a more robust performance schedule—thus more operating revenue—and position the group to more broadly pursue charitable support from individuals, the foundation community and government agencies.

“The Tamburitzans ensemble has been a part of Duquesne since 1937, so this was a decision that was taken very seriously and not without some emotion,” said Paul Stafura, managing director. “Working together, we can create more opportunities for talented young people so that future Tamburitzans can have the same great experience that our alumni remember. Taking the troupe in this new direction will also allow for an enhanced artistic stage performance that will keep audiences coming back for more.”

In 2013, a group of alumni approached the University to discuss the future of the Tammies, as the group has experienced a 40 percent drop in applicants over the years. After months of discussions, there was mutual agreement that transitioning the troupe to independent status was the most desirable way forward. Once independent status is attained, an executive director and a volunteer board of directors will lead the organization.

“This is an exciting opportunity to lead the Tammies into the future,” said Tamburitzans alumnus Robert Vukic, (’79), who will be heading a volunteer committee called the Tamburitzans Executive Council. “I have been involved with the troupe since I was a student performer in the ensemble, and I’m pleased to be a part of moving it forward. I am confident that this effort will energize both our alumni and the many friends who have supported the program over the years.”

To help ensure its success, Duquesne University will provide significant support to the troupe. More than $4 million of the University’s endowment will continue to provide scholarships for Duquesne students participating in The Tamburitzans. Duquesne is also giving the group more than $2 million in buildings, land, costumes, instruments, vehicles and equipment. In addition, the University will provide operating fund support throughout the transition as the new nonprofit expands the ensemble, increases its performance schedule and implements a fundraising operation.

“The generous financial support from Duquesne will help the new organization begin with a strong foundation so that the mission and tradition of The Tamburitzans is sustained. At the same time, valuable scholarship aid will continue to support our student performers,” said Stafura.

The Tamburitzans recently opened their Pittsburgh performance season with a show before 3,000 people at Hartwood Acres. The group’s 2014-15 schedule includes approximately 40 shows in venues from Minnesota to Florida.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.