UWM Slovenian Arts Program News

_____________________Newsletter of the UWM Slovenian Arts Council_____________________

Spring Edition                                                                                                                             April 2009

Slovenian Day in West Allis

The Mayor of the city of West Allis, the Honorable Dan Devine, proclaimed September 26, 2008 as Slovenian Arts and Culture Day in West Allis.  Majda Koren, the prize winning Slovenian author of children’s books was in West Allis to present her new book titled, Louisa from Outer Space, which is from the Forget-Me-Not series.  Present with Ms. Koren was one of the editors, Špela Brecelj.  Mike Kozolka, the Director of the West Allis Public library, set up the Conference and Constitutional rooms for Majda and Špela.  Special thanks to our Superintendent of Schools, Kurt Wachholz, who allowed the fourth and fifth grades from Mitchell and Irving schools to come to the library to attend this event.  Two hundred and forty students met with Majda and Špela, got Majda’s autograph, and were introduced to the complete book series, which is contained in the library.  In Spela’s room, they viewed scenes from Slovenia and learned more about the country of Slovenia.  Later, the students were treated to Slovenian cookies, Vinske palicke (wine sticks), and sok (juice).  At the event, Helen Frohna, Rose Chepeck, Toni Needham, and Al Jelinek wore naroda noša, and Al instructed the students on the contents of the showcase that was on exhibit.

That evening, Mayor Devine presented MaryCay Freiberg, President of the Slovenian Arts Council, with the proclamation naming this day “Slovenian Day.”  Dr. Zvone Zigon, Consul General from the Republic of Slovenia who was present for the occasion, addressed the group and had council hours earlier.  Later, the Uspeh chorus gave a mini concert.  At the event, there were displays of many Slovenian artifacts including woodcarvings, paintings of Slovenia by John Vlaj, examples of bobbin lace, and Slovenian literature.  The organizations, Slovenian Women’s Union and KSKJ were present, along with a display for the Federation of SNPJ by Bob Smole.  A video of the UWM Music library, which houses the largest collection of Slovenian music outside of Slovenia, was present, along with the director of the UWM library, Ewa Barczyk.

The guests enjoyed potica and strudel, which were baked by Rose Chepeck, MaryCay Freiberg, Barbara Martinka, Milka Menchak, Toni Needham, Virginia Strukel, and Stan Vidmar.  They also enjoyed music by our talented musician Ed Vidmar.  When Ed plays, the Slovenians join in singing, which made it a true Slovenka Zabava.  Thanks to all who made this a memorable event.


President’s Message


The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Slovenian Arts Program completed another successful year of bringing Slovenian art and culture to the greater Milwaukee area.  This past year, the UW-M Slovenian Arts Council hosted several events.  On Saturday April 12, the Slovenian Arts Council hosted a spectacular musical event featuring Jeff Pecon and his orchestra.  On Sunday July 20, 2008, the 2008 UW-M Slovenian Arts Program Award of Service was presented to the Reverend Doctor Jože Gole.  Finally, on September 26, 2008, the SAC hosted “Slovenian Day” in the city of West Allis.  Please enjoy reading the articles about the Musical Afternoon with Jeff Pecon and the Award of Service to Reverend Doctor Jože Gole in the 2008 Fall SAP Newsletter.  The UWM Slovenian Arts Council appreciates and thanks all the artists and who have entertained our Greater Milwaukee Area community.  The Council also thanks all the guests who attended and supported the various events sponsored by the UW-M Slovenian Arts Program.  Najlepša Hvala!  A sincere THANK YOU goes out to all the Council members for their dedicated spirit and hard work that made each event a reality and most enjoyable.  The Council is now eagerly planning future educational and cultural events for your enjoyment.  Please feel free to contact any Council member if you have any program suggestions or requests.


With spring here and summer anxiously anticipated...


Ever more beauty to discover...

Ever more dreams to pursue...

Ever more blessings to enjoy...


How nature’s gifts - refresh the mind, renew the heart, and reawaken the spirit!


S spoštovanjen (With Best Regards),


MaryCay Freiberg, President

UW-M Slovenian Arts Council



Isabelle Krajl Directs Beggar’s Opera

Isabelle Krajl and her husband Mark Anderson updated the original Beggar’s opera, first  written in the eighteenth century and then rewritten in the nineteenth century as the Three Penny Opera, to the modern day presentation of the Beggar’s Opera.  Isabelle’s decision in setting Beggar’s on a small theater stage of their company, THEATRE GIGANTE, was most enjoyable.  The music and songs were an original composition performed by Dan Dance and he did an excellent job of intertwining the music of the three distinctly different centuries.  The opening night performance played to a packed audience that really enjoyed and appreciated the production.  Congratulations to Isabelle, Mark, and the rest of the THEATRE GIGANTE Company, on a most enjoyable performance!  More information at www.theatregigante.org


Slovenian Artist Makes Her Mark in Milwaukee


Milwaukee is fortunate to have two prominent Slovenian visual artists, Meta Zobec Novak and her spouse, Dr. Jože Novak residing with their two lovely daughters; Ana and Katarina, in Whitefish Bay, WI.  Meta is a graduate of the Academy of Pedagogics in Art and History, from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.  She has just completed a new body of work titled, My Surroundings, which includes 11 unique pastel drawings on paper reminiscent of Impressionism and Cubism.  Meta’s work demonstrates a strong emphasis on the play of light and shadow on her subjects.  Much of My Surroundings deals with still life and features such motifs as Slovenian pottery and wooden wear, the Venetian Lagoon, and objects from everyday life such as fruits, bowls, chairs, etc.  Meta Zobec Novak is an accomplished artist and the Slovenian Community looks forward to seeing her work exhibited at a future University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Slovenian Arts Program event!  For more information or to view and purchase a work, you can contact the artist at (414) 962-3096.


THEATRE GIGANTE to Present New Performance Inspired by Srečko Kosovel


Isabelle Kralj and Mark Anderson are creating a new performance titled, “Man in a Magic Square.”  The performance will be presented by their company, THEATRE GIGANTE, on May 8 & 9, 2009 at the Off-Broadway Theater, located at 342 N. Water Street.  “Man in a Magic Square is inspired by the beautiful poetry of Srečko Kosovel who was a prolific Slovenian poet, born in 1904 in Sezana, and died in 1926 at the young age of 22.  Featured in the performance, along with Kralj and Anderson, will be Urša Vidmar (dancer from the Slovenian National Theater Ballet) and internationally known accordionist, Guy Klucevsek.  Performances dates and times are May 8 at 8:00pm, and May 9 at 4:00 and 8:00pm.  The matinee performance on May 9 at 4:00pm offers a special discount to the Slovenian Community, where tickets will be $15 (normally they are $25).  There will be a special reception in the theater lobby following the performance, where people can chat with the performers.  Dr. Zvone Žigon, Slovenian Consul General has been invited to attend.  All proceeds will go to cover the costs of the performance.  For tickets, please call Virginia Strukel at 543-6566.  There will be a bus organized for those interested in attending as a group.  For more information, please visit the THEATRE GIGANTE website at www.theatregigante.org


Slovenian Arts Program Performance Grant


Are you aware that the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Slovenian Arts Program established a Slovenian Arts Performance Grant in 1998?  The Grant is to promote and support Slovenian Artistic events and enhance a relationship between the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Slovenian community.  Grants are limited to local Slovenian Arts organizations and individual performers.  Grants may also be received by organizations within the above-mentioned area, which may be hosting an appropriate group, performer, or event from outside of this area.  A maximum of two Grants will be available each year, for an amount of $500.00 per Grant.  The Grants are awarded in June or July for the “fall,” period and in January or February for the “spring.”  The terms of the Grant specify that an organization or performer shall be limited to receiving this award not more than once in a three-year period.  Any organization or performer receiving a Grant for a performance, must acknowledge in its program or advertisement for the event, that sponsorship was in part by the Grant from the UWM Slovenian Arts Program.  Applications for the Grant can be obtained by telephoning (414) 778-1464 or by writing to MaryCay Freiberg, 1223 South 118th Street, West Allis, WI.  53214.


 UWM Slovenian Arts Program Scholarship


In 1998, the Slovenian Arts Program began the annual Student Scholarship Award of $1,000.  This Scholarship is made possible by a gift made to the UWM Foundation by Mary and Frank Ermence, the support of the Slovenian Arts Program through your annual FRIENDS membership, and by your attendance at the Slovenian Arts Program events.  The Slovenian Arts Council, along with Diane Grace, the new Peck School of the Arts Development Director, established the eligibility requirements for the Slovenian Arts Program Student Scholarship Award.  To be eligible for the Slovenian Arts Program Scholarship, a student must meet the following criteria:


  1. Be of Slovenian descent
  2. Be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student in the UWM Peck School of the           Arts.
  3. Be at least a sophomore in rank with a 2.50 or better cumulative grade point average and a minimum 3.25 grade point average in the Peck School of the Arts major coursework.
  4. Be a full-time student during the semesters for which the scholarship has been awarded.
  5. Must not have been the recipient of the UWM Slovenian Arts Program Scholarship in the previous five-year period.


The Slovenian Arts Program Award Committee shall have the discretion to waive any of the above criteria.  The Slovenian Arts Council urges you to alert your eligible relatives and friends to apply for the Scholarship by contacting MaryCay Freiberg at (414) 778-1464.


 Francé Prešeren, Slovenia’s Greatest Poet


As a way of creating a lasting symbol of its presidency of the European Union during the first six months of 2008, Slovenia unveiled a marble monument on which is inscribed the first line of the Slovenian national anthem “Živé naj vsi narodi” (Let all the nations live).  The script is written in the languages of the 23 countries comprising (at the time) the European Union.  The line is from the seventh stanza of Francé Prešeren’s poem Zdravljica (A Drinking Toast).


Since his youth, Francé Prešeren was influenced by folk poetry.  His poetic work consists of beautiful ballads, romances, and sonnets.  He published his poems in 1847 in a booklet titled, Poezije doktorja Francéta Prešérna.  The poem Zdravljica however, was not included in the publication.  It did not pass the strict censorship in the Habsburg, Austria because it was deemed too politically liberal.  Zdravljica was published only after censorship had been abolished in 1848.


Francé Prešeren was born on December 3, 1800, in the village of Vrba, in the northwestern part of Slovenia -- Gorenjska.  His parents were farmers.  Education was deemed important in the family since there were several priests among the close relatives.  At the age of eight, Francé left home and went to live with his uncle who was a priest in Kopanje near Grosuplje.  There he attended school and later continued his education in Ribnica and Ljubljana.  Later, he left Ljubljana to study philosophy and law in Vienna where he obtained his Doctorate of Law in 1828.  Upon graduation, he returned to Ljubljana to seek employment as an attorney.  First, he worked for the law firm Leopold Baumgarten and at the Court of Ljubljana.  Later, he joined the law office of Blaž Crobath.  Throughout this time, Francé tried in vain to obtain official permission to open a law office of his own.  In 1846, when he was ill and deeply depressed, he was finally granted permission to open a law office in Kranj, near Vrba, his birthplace.  Francé Prešeren died on February 8, 1849 and was buried in Kranj.  For decades, Slovenia has been celebrating February 8 as Prešernov dan (the Prešeren’s Day).  Since Slovenia’s independence, Prešernov dan became Dan kulture (the Day of Culture) and a national holiday.


 Slovenian Sing-a-Long is Coming!


There is a Treasury of Slovenian Folk songs.  They contain beautiful melodies and pleasant sounding harmonies.  The songs talk about life as man found it, tales of love, faith, dirges, and even drinking songs.  The Slovenian Arts Council, in keeping with their mission to preserve and experience the Slovenian Heritage will sponsor a Sing-a-Long.  SAC member, Dolores Ivanchich, will facilitate this singing session.  This is an opportunity to learn and/or reacquaint yourself with some familiar songs, along with their translations and use of the language.  You do NOT have to read music, we just want to come together to sing!  So, do come, learn, and ENJOY!  The first session will be held on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 7:00 PM in the Constitution room at the West Allis Public Library.  If you would like more information, contact Dolores Ivanchich at (414) 529-2918.  You are all CORDIALLY invited to attend the Slovenian Sing-a-Long!



Slovenian Arts Council to Award Dr. Zvone Žigon


Mark your calendar.  The Slovenian Arts Council will honor Dr. Zvone Žigon, the out-going Consul General from the Republic of Slovenia, with a plaque for his outstanding work during these past four years.  The award ceremony will take place at the Triglav Park Mission Picnic on Sunday, July 19, 2009.  At the ceremony, Dr. Žigon will present a lecture on the Slovenian Missions.  This is Dr. Žigon’s farewell to Milwaukee.  Your presence will be his greatest honor!



Slovenes in the News


Stan Vidmar   Stan joined the Wisconsin Senior Olympics Board of Directors in May 2000, and has competed in Bowling and Swimming for more than twelve years.  In September 2008, Stan took First Place in the 50-Yard Backstroke, 50-Yard Breaststroke and 50-Yard Sidestroke.  In 2008, Stan took First Place Bowling in Doubles with his Brother Edward and Second Place in the Single Senior Olympics bowling event at the Bowlero Lanes.


Sister Janet Gregorcich, SSND   Sister Janet continues to direct Global Partners/Running Waters, an organization that provides clean water to the poorest of the poor in Central America.


Donald Lobacz   On March 14, 2009, St. John the Evangelist #65, KSKJ Life, (American Slovenian Catholic Union) presented an evening of music and comedy by the Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets.  This talented group offers a program of music from the 50’s with a little comedy thrown in.  Donald Lobacz, son of Don and Agnes Lobacz, is a member of this quartet and does most of the musical arrangements.  All proceeds from this fun-filled evening went to the American Cancer Society with the KSKJ Home Office matching a substantial amount.


The following authors have contributed to this newsletter:


MaryCay Freiberg, Isabelle Kralj, Virginia Strukel, Milly Mursec, Dolores Ivanchich, and Mary Bregant



Slovenian Arts Council Executive Officers and Council members



Executive Officers                                                                             Council Members


President:                               MaryCay Freiberg                            Patricia Gorence

Vice President:                      Judy Price                                          Tony Gorenc

Treasurer:                              Denise Bartlett                                   Dolores Ivanchich

Recording Secretary:            Christina Carroll                               Barbara Martinka

Corresponding Secretary:    Mary Bregant                                    Virginia Strukel

                                                                                                            Milly Mursec   



Back to Homepage