Millvale’s Croatian Connection

The Winds’ upcoming concert at the Panza Gallery features a distinctive and colorful work by the Croatian composer, Mladen Pozajic. We discovered this work in the 1990s when we were doing a Music for Neighborhoods concert in Millvale’s St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church. The church’s interior is covered by 25 murals (approximately 4500 square feet!) by the immigrant artist Maxo Vanka (1889-1963), which depict Croatian life in the old country and the New World. In those murals, Vanka both pays tribute to his faith and expresses his passionate beliefs about social justice, injustice, and the horrors of war.

A violinist who was a refugee from the horrors of the 1990s Bosnian war assisted us in researching Croatian music for our concert in the church. One of the most striking of those pieces was the Tri Stavka [Three Movements], written by the twenty-year-old Mladen Pozajic in 1925. Unpublished at the time, we had to create our own parts from a manuscript score. Since then, it has been published by Editions Viento. Written for double-reed quartet (two oboes, English horn, and bassoon), the Winds will be presenting this music adapted for wind quartet of oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon.

R. James Whipple