Thanks to everyone who attended Applaud the Light on Friday, November 8th. With appreciation to our Community Presenters for their generous support of the evening.

This year’s one-of-a-kind evening featured original works and the music of J.S. Bach/Gounod, Adam Hurst, Willie Nelson, The New Christy Mintrels, The Rolling Stones and more.


Production design by Lynne SquillaLighting by Clear Story.

Many thanks to the talented players who are generously donating their time and talents.


The Players…

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.


Pianist Raymond Blackwell

Raymond is a collaborative pianist and has worn many hats in the musical community of Pittsburgh for over twenty years. He is a well known coach and accompanist, having been on the music staff at Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, as well as having faculty appointments at Carnegie Mellon University, Slippery Rock University, Mercyhurst College, and Grove City College. He also has quite a reputation as a classical singer, having sung roles with Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Microscopic Opera, and the Chatham University Concert series. He can be found most Sundays as the baritone soloist at the Presbyterian Church, Sewickley.


Steffi Domike

Steffi Domike is a labor educator with the United Steelworkers International in the Education and Membership Development Department. Steffi first joined the Steelworkers in 1976, as a member of Local 1557 in Clairton, PA, where she worked for United States Steel in the electrical gang at the Clairton Coke Plant. She currently facilitates member and leadership training classes on assignment across the United States and Canada. Steffi is also a member of the SPMMMV Board of Directors.


Actor and local historian Wali Jamal

Wali has directed and acted for Pittsburgh Playwrights, and his HISTORY’S FLIPSIDE one-man show, Martin R Delany, gained him critical acclaim and was featured in The Point of Pittsburgh commemorating the city’s 250th Anniversary. In July 2017, Wali performed a speech from Delany and scenes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet with Oscar/Tony winning actor Mark Rylance.


Musician Jason Kendall

Citing influences as diverse as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, Chet Baker and Billie Holiday, Jason Kendall is comfortable performing all types of music. In 1998, he founded “Déjà vu,” a popular band that opened for national acts like Cheap Trick, 38 Special, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Steppenwolf and the Clarks. Jason Kendall Productions is in high demand for a variety of events and, in recent years, Jason has released 3 solo albums including “When At Last We Saw The Sunrise,” a Pittsburgh rock Opera.


Voice from Sudan, City of Asylum



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.


Bayan player Elena Pavlova

Lena is a Russian bayan player. Since her graduation with honor from Far Eastern Academy of Fine Arts (Vladivostok), she was teaching and performing music in Beijing. After moving to Pittsburgh two years ago she joined Russian Balalaika Orchestra of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra, where she enjoys performing folk music.


Brian Siewiorek

Brian attended college at Kent State University, studying journalism with a focus on radio and television, and began broadcasting at the school’s station, WKSR. He also began working at WKSU, Kent’s Public Classical radio station. While there, his work won the station an Edward R. Murrow award for “Best Use of Sound.”

In September of 2001, he became Operations Manager at WCBU in Peoria, Illinois and began producing art features for the NPR station. Awards for his work at WCBU included an Associated Press Award for Best Investigative Reporting. Brian became WYEP’s Production Director in 2004, where he continues to brings you features and community spotlights and shares his love of music.


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.”


Rosemary Trump

Rosemary Trump is a retired Vice President of the Service Employees International Union and currently chairs the Battle of Homestead Foundation’s “Labor History and Future of Work Center” Committee. She was instrumental in coordinating the “Shakespeare and the Battle of Homestead” programs and performances that included an original play by renowned Shakespearean, Broadway and Hollywood actor Mark Rylance in 2017, and was a featured reader in the “Point of Pittsburgh” stage productions celebrating Pittsburgh’s 250th Anniversary in 2008 and at the Working Class Studies Conference in 2009. She is proud of her decade of support for SPMMMV and the conservation and lighting of the Maxo Vanka murals.


Producer/Writer: Lynne Squilla

Lynne Squilla presents her seventh production honoring Maxo Vanka’s dramatic murals at St. Nicholas Church in Millvale.

For 30 years, Squilla has been an Emmy- and International film-award-winning freelance Producer-Writer-Director, crafting programs for PBS, Nova, Discovery, National Geographic, SyFy, Fox, A&E, TLC, Kazakh TV, and Channel 4 London. In addition, she has created original content for universities, corporations, non-profits, and for the stage, working with artists such as Shakespearean, Broadway and movie actor Mark Rylance, and Michael Feinstein, keeper of the Great American Song Book. Her roster of clients is local, national and international. Her awards include a National Emmy, multiple regional Emmys and Tellys, Birmingham Film Festival, Vienna International Film award, NY Film and Television International Bronze Award, and more.

Squilla has worked with diverse and fascinating people: Seneca from the Iroquois Confederacy, the late Fred Rogers, high-ranking Russian Air Force pilots, and a violin maker in Tel Aviv who restored Holocaust-ravaged violins. In what is becoming a long career, Squilla has enjoyed turning her talents to stories, events and shows that not only capture her imagination, but also the imaginations of audiences of all kinds. It has not been work; it has been a gift!


Stage Manager: Dennis Robinson Jr.

Dennis Robinson Jr. is a stage director and arts administrator with a focus on giving arts opportunities to the next generation of artists, creators, and arts appreciators. Dennis currently serves as the director of education & accessibility for  City Theatre Company in Pittsburgh’s historic South Side neighborhood. Dennis previously held the position of manager of community programs & accessibility at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where he was integral in the development and expansion of accessible and inclusive programming, and a continued force for community engagement for the organization. Prior to the ballet Dennis served as artistic administrator for Pittsburgh Festival Opera, and he is also a thriving stage director for opera and musical theater.


Lighting: Clear StoryClear Story

Founded in 2007, Clear Story is a team of highly skilled professional artists, designers, and fabricators working to create visual and spatial experiences that communicate new narrative forms. From architecture and fine arts to historical exhibition and performance, Clear Story has led and participated in complex collaborative projects under demanding conditions.

Since the founding of the firm, Clear Story has continued to expand its menu of services to include: permanent and traveling exhibits; temporary installations; theatrical and performance productions; interior and exterior architectural lighting and projection; special event planning and production management; art handling, preparation, and preservation.

In 2013, SPMMMV engaged Clear Story — a design and technology firm based in Pittsburgh — to develop a Lighting Design Master Plan for the Maxo Vanka murals. The museum quality, energy efficient LED mural lighting system has been designed to bring out every detail of Vanka’s work. Current members of the Clear Story mural lighting design team include Rob Long, Pete Milo, Chris Michaels, and Dave Levine.