On behalf of the St. Nicholas Monroeville Choir, its officers and members, we are thrilled to be the hosts of the 2022 SSF Festival! The St. Nicholas Choir is currently under the co-directorship of Ms. Janice Smargie and Mr. Nikola Vranesevic, assisting directors are Janet (Popovich) Tumbas and Snezena Lazich, with Janet Tumbas assisting for many faithful years. We are grateful to our Father Stefan Djoric, our church board, and our parishioners for their support in hosting this year’s SSF Festival.
On June 3, 1929, the 63-member St. Nicholas Choir of Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, was organized with +Nellie Mamula as its director. There were no officers until 1932 when formal meetings began. Instrumental to the choir’s organization was the Chica Ilija Orchestra, the first Pittsburgh area Tamburitzan orchestra to broadcast on the radio. Lifelong and honorary member +Sam Blagovich was part of that orchestra along with +George Vuick, who served as choir librarian throughout his entire membership.
Under the direction of +Very Rev. Dr. Milan Popovich, the choir reached its peak membership in 1933 with 105 singers. There were so many members that it has been said that at the first SSF Festival in the mid 1930’s, the platform holding singers collapsed during its performance. Fr. Popovich remained the director until 1936. +Professor Boris Dobrovolsky assumed directorship in 1937 and remained until the start of WWII. Following the war, in 1946, +Professor Ivan Georgieff assumed the responsibility of director for the 50-member choir. The following year, in 1947, the choir was officially indicted into the Serbian Singing Federation. In 1948, “Prof” Georgieff (“Prof” as he was lovingly called), organized the Male Chorus. In the early 1950s, Prof, along with +George Paich reorganized the men into the tour de force that eventually recorded the still popular “Sacred Music” album.” At Prof’s request, +Dusan Saula began directing the choir in the 1950’s. At that time, +Mitzi (Novakovich) Vukic assisted with the directing.
+Prof Georgieff remained with the choir until the 1960’s when +Very Rev. Fr. Milan Markovina, pastor of the church, took over the choir directorship. Fr. Milan arranged many of the liturgical songs and adapted English text to Serbian melodies that are still sung. Fr. Milan has also been credited for reorganizing the Male Chorus and making their 1963 album/CD Sacred Music. During these years, the choir was privileged to have the musical accompaniment of the Plavi Mjesec Orchestra, which frequently performed both at home and on trips to Serbian parishes across the United States and Canada. Fr. Milan left our parish in 1969, and Dusan Saula took over as director.
In 1971, the Monroeville church complex was consecrated. Although Dushie continued to direct in church, the choir had +Al Hazeem and Dr. Ron Bevan as concert directors for 1971 and 1974 respectively. Under the directorship of Dr. Bevan, the choir made an album of secular songs entitled Yugoslavian Journey. Dushie Saula remained the choir director until his retirement in 2000. The choir honored Dushie with a testimonial that recognized his many years of service. Mitzi (Novakovich) Vukic and Janet (Popovich) Tumbas served as assistant directors while Martha Kukich Steen assisted Dushie at rehearsals.
Martha Kukich Steen directed the choir after Dushie’s retirement in 2000. Both Martha and her Father +Danny Kukich have arranged many instrumental pieces to accompany the choir.
Professor Milutin Lazich assumed responsibility as Director in 2004. The SSF presented Milutin the 2005 Adam Popovich Award for outstanding contributions for the perseveration of Serbian music. So too, in 2003 when our choir hosted the SSF Festival, the St. Nicholas parish was privileged that two native sons, +Very Rev. Milan Markovina and +Dusan Saula were also given the same award. In 2010, Milutin retired from directing the concert choir. After he left, Lorraine Milovac agreed to become musical director. Since 2018, the St. Nicholas Choir has been lead by Janice Smargie, and assisting Janice are Janet (Popovich) Tumbas, Snezena Lazich, and Nikola Vranesevic, with Janet Tumbas assisting for many faithful years.
Although the choir’s primary function is to sing responses during Divine Liturgy it finds many other ways to serve the church and the SSF. Our choir has hosted two conventions and now four festivals. The conventions were held in 1979 and 1997, with festivals being held in 1980, 1989, 2003, and 2020. The choir also hosted the SSF Choral Workshop in August 2006, which made a CD recording of The Divine Liturgy that Sunday. College students and elderly shut-ins received a copy of the CD because many of them are unable to attend regular church services.
The St. Nicholas Church Choir is proud of its 93 year involvement in the St. Nicholas Wilmerding/Monroeville parish and its 75 year history with the SSF. We are equally proud to have choir members who have served as presidents with the SSF, namely Pero Prpa and Mary Paich. It is with pride and the love of our Serbian Orthodox faith and culture that the St. Nicholas Church Choir devote countless hours to this most important endeavor.
Click on the tabs below to see the tentative event schedule for that day.
All social events will be held at St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church.
First Bus: 5:45 PM
Social: 6:00 PM – 11:30 PM
Food and Dessert: 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Music: 7:00 PM – 11:30 PM
Silent Auction (bidding begins): 8 PM
Last Bus: 11:30 PM
Buses: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Rehearsal: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Concert: 2:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Vespers Bus: 5:00 PM
Vespers: 6:00 PM
Doors Open: 6:00 PM
Food: 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Music: 7:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Dessert: 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Silent Auction (bidding closes): 8 PM
Last Bus: 12:00 AM
First Bus from Hotel: 9:00 AM
Church: 9:30 AM
Lunch: 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Rehearsal Rooms: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Concert: 2:30 PM – End
Picnic: 4:00 PM Earliest – Close
Band: 4:00 PM Earliest
Food: 6:00 PM – Close
Silent Auction (winners announced): 10PM
Pobeda (7:00 PM – 11:30 PM, Outside)
Srpski Sinovi (7:00 PM – 12:00 AM, Outside)
Pobeda (7:00 PM – 12:00 AM, Inside)
Radost (4:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Outside)
ALL HOTELS HAVE ROOM BLOCK NAME: SSF FESTIVAL
122 Daugherty Dr, Monroeville, PA 15146
Room Rate: $139 / night
3000 Mosside Blvd, Monroeville, PA 15146
Room Rate: $139 / night
3962 William Penn Highway, Monroeville, PA 15146
Room Rate: $139 / night