Tom Breiding


I discovereVanka Soldierd one of Pittsburgh's greatest treasures on Sunday, March 20th when I performed Steeltowns, Coalfields, and the Unbroken Circle at St. Nicholas Church in Millvale. Built by Croation steelworkers in the early 20th century, the church burned in 1921 and was rebuilt the following year. In 1937 the parish priest commissioned Croation artist, Maxo Vanka to paint the interior walls of the church. The resulting murals are a "must see" for those of us in Pittsburgh and beyond.Vanka Praying Woman

Among those who I must thank for this extraordinary performance opportunity are Harriet Gibbs and her staff from the hosting organization "North Hills Community Outreach," Father Dan Whalen, the current pastor there now, and two very special women, Diane Novosel who is the chairperson of the Vanka Murals Preservation Society, and Mary Petrich, a remarkable woman who was nine years old and watched as Vanka painted the murals in 1937. After my program, Mary gave a tour and explanation of these fascinating, unusual, and brilliant murals.

I encourage each of you to click the link above and plan a visit to this extraordinary treasure right here in Pittsburgh.


2011-03-28 08:59:05 - Maria Maria
I'm so glad I attended the program - for Tom and the church AND the murals. It was a perfect match with Tom's stories, his music and Mary's knowledge of the murals/church. I learned so much from them. Kudos to Harriet for putting all of the treasures together - great vision!