The season for packing a picnic and spreading a blanket out on the cool grass is well underway, and the Burgh boasts numerous tranquil green spaces, such as sunny Schenley Plaza, rugged Riverview Park, the North Shore water steps and the riverbanks of Washington’s Landing.
For countless urban dwellers, securing a coveted spot on the Great Lawn at the Frick Art & Historical Center has become a tradition during the highly popular First Fridays series, which transforms the site’s serene grounds into a lively plein air concert venue. The series features a varied selection of musical and vocal performances, while inviting the public to spend summer evenings under the stars, enjoying music, socializing and delicious fare in one of the city’s most stunning outdoor settings.
For its 2014 installment, the Frick has curated a lineup of top local talents representing a diverse range of musical styles and genres. This summer, the Point Breeze-based institution’s First Niagara Presents First Fridays at the Frick also serves as a celebration of the event’s 20th anniversary season.
For its second summer edition, the Frick welcomes a Croatian folk music legend to its esteemed stage, in a special concert that reflects and honors a heritage shared by many Western Pennsylvanians. Among the greatest tamburitza (Croatian string music) performers alive today—and widely considered to be the top prim player in the world—Western Pennsylvania native Jerry Grcevich is truly a living embodiment of the rich musical tradition.
Born in Turtle Creek, Grcevich studied tamburitza with his father and uncle, both musical directors and performers. At age 21, he made a pivotal pilgrimage to Yugoslavia to study with legendary tamburitza prim player, Janika Balaz. In 1980, Grcevich began composing and recording original musical pieces. A master of all five instruments of the tamburitza ensemble—the prim, brač, tamburitza cello, bugarija and tamburitza bass—Grcevich is known for using “sound-on-sound” recording techniques, constructing an ensemble featuring only his own playing. As a result of his musical skills, he is able to capture the characteristic melody, harmony, counterpoint and rhythm of the layered tamburitza orchestra.
In addition to leading his own ensemble, Grcevich has recorded and toured with numerous well-known tamburitza musicians. At a performance in Slovenska-Pozega, Croatia, in 1994, he even realized that many of the tamburitza groups were playing songs that he had composed, a testament to his influence in the music’s homeland. In 2001, Grcevich became the youngest musician to be inducted into the Tamburitza Hall of Fame, and in 2005, he was honored with a National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship.
Grcevich appears at the Frick fresh off the heels of a two-month stint in Croatia, during which he performed and recorded at large festivals, weddings, nightclubs and taverns. Joining Grcevich in his orchestra will be Charlie Faltenovich (brač), Chris Lambrix (bugarija), Robert Lambrix (brač) and Raczar Lopatic (bass).
The series continues with the Sean Jones Quartet, led by the world-renowned trumpeter and Duquesne University associate professor of jazz studies, on September 5th.
Concerts begin at 7 p.m. Suggested donation: $5 per adult. Guests are invited to arrive early and create a gourmet picnic featuring selections from The Café at the Frick, which begins serving at 5:30 p.m. The Frick Art Museum and Museum Shop will remain open during the concert. Free parking is available in the Frick’s off-street lot, and along adjacent neighborhood streets.