Maxo Vanka

St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church
December 16
7 p.m.

One of Pittsburgh’s remarkable art treasures will be seen in a whole new light this holiday season.

Merging music, art and light, The Society to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka invites the public to enjoy an uplifting evening, help preserve the future of one of the region’s top cultural sites, and bask in an atmosphere of tranquility amidst the stress of the holidays.

Fans of classical music, local history and public art alike won’t want to miss this very special holiday celebration at the historic St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the church is home to Maxo Vanka’s breathtaking Gift to America murals, created in 1937 and 1941 by the Croatian immigrant as part of a groundbreaking artistic commission.

Photo: Rob Long, Clear Story.

The night kicks off at 7 p.m. with a docent-led tour of Vanka’s breathtaking murals, which explore powerful subjects ranging from war and social justice, to labor issues and the immigrant experience in America.

At 8 p.m., attendees will be treated to a rollicking holiday concert performed by Chatham Baroque. The musical program will showcase a charming pastoral Christmas Cantata by renowned Italian opera composer Alessandro Scarlatti, Claudio Monteverdi’s soaring Laudate Dominum, a trio sonata by Antonio Vivaldi, and Baroque Christmas carols from across Europe. Ensemble members Andrew Fouts (baroque violin), Patricia Halverson (viola da gamba) and Scott Pauley (theorbo, baroque guitar) will be joined by special guest instrumentalists as well as the prolific French-Canadian soprano, Pascale Beaudin.

Courtesy Chatham Baroque.

A reception with wine, coffee and refreshments will follow the musical performance.

Proceeds from Friday’s event will help support the landmark’s ongoing conservation efforts and lighting project. In 2016, the site saw a record-setting attendance with 4,000 visitors to the murals.

Purchase tickets.

Looking for more holiday magic? Go behind-the-scenes to explore Maxo Vanka’s masterpieces during special, family-friendly “Holiday Mural Light Tours” offered on December 20, 22, 27 and 29 at St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church. The hour-long docent-led tours begin at 6 and 8 p.m. Tour-goers are invited to arrive early or linger afterward to enjoy holiday-inspired refreshments in the church’s basement. Suggested donation for the tours is $10 per person at the door.

Looking for more events? Check out our 10 Pittsburgh events not to miss in December and 10 great family adventures in Pittsburgh this December feature stories.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...