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APPLAUD THE LIGHT!

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 Thank you to everyone who attended Applaud the Light! The sold-out show was a light-filled community celebration of Vanka’s Gift to America.

Applaud the Light — Post-Gazette SEEN in the City

The lighting of the 1937 Murals is made by possible by the generosity of Marie Dworsky, Mary April Holcomb, The Pappa/Kusevich Family and the Seldon and Susan Whitaker Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.


Lighting by Clear Story.   Performance Design by Lynne Squilla.


Many thanks too to the talented players who generously donated their time and talents.

The Players…

Singers of the Bach Choir Pittsburgh, Thomas Douglas, artistic director

Bach Choir of Pittsburgh was founded in 1934 to perform works of Johann Sebastian Bach exclusively. Under the leadership of Conductor and Artistic Director Thomas W. Douglas, the choir continues to evolve from a narrowly-focused ensemble to a larger, more inclusive choir that performs major choral works by composers from the Renaissance through the present. Since its inception the Bach Choir has grown from 60 to 100 singers.  Local music critics commend the Choir for “stretching its musical wings,” and handling “tricky works not only with technical skill, but with spirit and seeming inspiration.”

Cellist David Bennettcellospot5

David studied cello with Shirley Trepel at Rice University, and also with Henry Elman of the Royal Philharmonic.  He performs locally with the duo, Cello Cello, the Rosewood Trio and with Daniel May at the Fairmont Hotel and the Mansions on Fifth.

Emmy-award winning correspondent and producer, Tonia Carusocaruso2

An award winning journalist who now serves as Assistant Deputy Director of the Office of Community Relations for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services,  Tonia began her 25 year in Pittsburgh television in local news and later spent 14 years at WQED Multimedia as a reporter, producer and host. She is a multiple nominee and winner of two Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards for Outstanding Community Service Reporting. Her storytelling excellence was recognized with four Pennsylvania Golden Quill Awards. Tonia was the recipient of the Women in Film and Media’s Patti Burns Award for Excellence.

Actor and writer David Crawfordheadshot2

David portrayed Maxo Vanka in 2008 and 2011 in Dr. David Demarest’s play, Gift to America. He most recently played Edgar Allan Poe in Poe’s Last Night here in Pittsburgh; at the Edinburgh, Scotland, Festival Fringe; and at the 200th anniversary of Poe’s schoolboy days in Irvine, Scotland. Among film roles, he was Dr. James Foster in George Romero’s zombie epic Dawn of the Dead. His next role is Herr Schaaf, an irascible German tutor, in Three Days in the Country for Kinetic Theater at the New Hazlett in Pittsburgh, November 18 through December 4.

Historian Dr. Charles McCollestercharlie-2-image

The retired director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Labor Relations and professor in the department of Industrial and Labor Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Charlie was a  machinist at Union Switch & Signal, Swissvale, and chief steward of UE Local 610. The long-time activist and author of Point of Pittsburgh (2008) has published in Monthly Review, The Nation, Labor’s Heritage, Pittsburgh History, The Encyclopedia of Irish in America, with many op-eds in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The University of Pittsburgh Press published his Fighter with a Heart: Writings of Charles Owen Rice, Pittsburgh Labor Priest in 1996. He is an emeritus member of the Battle of Homestead Foundation and authored original poetry celebrating the lighting of the 1941 Murals — Justice, Injustice, Prudence and Mati 1941 — in March 2016.

Lawyer-Poet Jake Oresickjake-o

Jake is an attorney and writer. His poems have appeared in St. Peter’s B-list: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints (Ave Maria Press), the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Adanna Literary Journal, among other publications, while scholarly articles have been published in Western Pennsylvania History, The Heinz Journal, and JURIST. His first book, The Schenley Experiment: A Social History of Pittsburgh’s First Public High School, is forthcoming from Pennsylvania State University Press in April 2017.

Tenor Michael Sambol

Michael resides in Pittsburgh, PA.  He is an active member of St. Nicholas Catholic Croatian Church and volunteers as a cantor. Mr. Sambol‘s musical talent and propensity for languages led him to study Opera Performance privately, under the world renowned Soprano, Katerina Musetti, from 2000 to 2007. Michael is a classical trained Tenor, a member of the Pittsburgh Opera Chorus since 2007, and has performed in several operas under Conductor Antony Walker.

Soprano Anna Singer

WQED fm89.3’s “Drivetime Diva,” Anna is an accomplished and world-class soprano having sung the anna-singerleads in operas such as Tosca, Salome, Aida, Madama Butterfly, Susannah, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, La Boheme, Le Nozze di Figaro, Lohengrin, Die Walkure, Die Fledermaus, The Merry Widow, and The Consul. She has sung with the New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Cleveland Opera, Palm Beach Opera and New Bulgarian Opera, to name a few. Also popular on the concert stage, Anna made her Carnegie Hall main stage debut with the Manhattan Philharmonic. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in recital, as a result of her First Prize-winning performance at the Center for Contemporary Opera Vocal Competition. She has won awards and grants from the Minna Kaufman Ruud Foundation, the Bel Canto Foundation and the Puccini Foundation and was a finalist in the Luciano International Vocal Competition.

Singer-Songwriter Mike Stoutstout-banner

Mike Stout debuted on stage in New York City in 1968, in the midst of a cultural revolution. But in the late seventies, the musician made Pittsburgh his home and quickly became the union’s top grievance man at the Homestead steel mill where he toiled. Now retired, this dedicated community leader has enjoyed a music career spanning over two decades and performed all across the United States and Europe with “the message of human solidarity and peace.” Working with all-star casts of nationally known Pittsburgh musicians and producers Mike has released 13 independent CDs and recorded over 150 songs. He tells stories from his heart about people who are affected by unemployment, social injustice, environmental hazards, or war. Mike is not out to be a rich rock star. As he’s stated on numerous occasions,“the kind of ‘change’ I’m interested in ain’t coins or money, but social movements.”