Tamburaški Orkestar Kardinal Stepinac

Preserving rich Croatian culture
Vancouver, BC, Canada

About TOKS

Tamburica Orchestra Kardinal Stepinac (TOKS) was founded with the objective of gathering Croatian girls and boys and teaching them how to play the beautiful Croatian instrument "tamburica". By performing various folklore choreographies, accompanied by tamburica, the rich Croatian culture and traditions are preserved and passed on to younger generations.

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Our History

In the fall of 1983, out of love towards the rich Croatian cultural heritage, an idea came to be. Father Ante Jurić, assistant pastor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Croatian Catholic church, along with the support of Emil Plečko and Ivica Abramović founded the Tamburica Orchestra under the auspices of the church.

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In the fall of 1983, out of love towards the rich cultural heritage of the Croatian people, an idea came to be.  Father Ante Juric, assistant pastor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Croatian Catholic church, along with the support of Emil Plecko and Ivica Abramovic founded the Tamburica Orchestra under the auspices of the church. Too much decision making was not required when it came to choosing a worthily name which the orchestra would uphold proudly with respect and dignity... Kardinal Stepinac.

Kardinal Stepinac, was the Archbishop of Zagreb during WWII.  Stepinac always stood for political freedom and fundamental rights, and he always advocated the rights of the Croatian people.  Stepinac wanted Croatia to be a country of God.  At the end of the war, Stepinac was found guilty of Nazi collaboration at a mock trial (which was proven many years later as entirely framed), and was convicted and sentenced sixteen years hard labour. At his trial when his life was on the line, Stepinac asked his communist prosecutors: "...every nation has the right to independence, then why should it be denied to the Croatians?" He spent five years in the prison of Lepoglava, and in 1951, Tito's government released him and confined him to his native village of Krašic.  Even though he was forbidden by the government to resume his duties, Stepinac was named Kardinal by Pope Pius XII on January 12, 1953.  Due to pain caused by the many illnesses he contracted while imprisoned, Kardinal Stepinac died in Krasic on February 10, 1960.  The only thing Stepinac was guilty of was his love for God and his homeland.  Pope John Paul II beatified Stepinac in 1998 in Marija Bistrica.

The objective of founding Tamburaški Orkestar Kardinal Stepinac was to gather Croatian girls and boys, to teach them how to play the beautiful Croatian instrument "tamburica".  Along with playing the tamburica, the orchestra also sung and danced various folklore choreographies, accompanied by tamburica playing.  Through the activities of the orchestra, the rich culture and traditions were preserved and passed on to younger generations. Not only does the group accept new students yearly, it was also able to develop a generation of young teachers who with love and enthusiasm continue the work of the orchestra.

Tamburaški Orkestar Kardinal Stepinac

In the past 20 years, there has not been a single monday night without the sound of tamburica eminating from the church hall.  While the youth are playing, singing and dancing, the mothers, under the guidance of Greta Kos (the dance instructor) are fixing and making additions to national costumes (nošnje). It would be impossible to tell you how many songs were played and sung and how many national dances danced.  Participating at festivals, playing during holy mass in church, especially on the anniversary celebration of Stepinac's death, were an especially proud moment for the orchestra.  The beauty and richness of the national costume and tamburica playing caught the attention of Vancouver Television, who asked the orchestra to share Croatian Christmas traditions, which was broadcasted  live to the city (1997).

The orchestra has performed in Vancouver and many parts of western Canada, with the tour of Croatia in 1995 standing out particularly in our members' memories.  Highlights from the trip include: Performing at the 29th International Folklore Festival in Zagreb (Smotra Folklora), a concert at the Millitary hospital for soldiers injured in the war for independence, playing for a mass in Marija Bistrica, and performing  concerts in Varaždin and Krašić (the birth place of Kardinal Stepinac).  Following Zagreb, we travelled to the coast of Croatia where we visited with the mayor of Rijeka and were interviewed by Croatian Radio.  We finished our tour with a performance for refugees from Lika situated in Ičići near Opatija. 

Tamburaški Orkestar Kardinal Stepinac continues with tremendous drive, helped by the moral support of our pastor father Paviša Norac.  Our founder father Ante will live to enjoy many more proud moments!

Thank you father Ante!


Croatian Canadian Folklore Federation West

Croatian Canadian Folklore Federation WestWe are members of the Croatian Canadian Folklore Federation West which promotes, enhances and preserves Croatian folklore ensuring cultural awareness within Canadian context.

Calendar Of Events

Every Monday: Tamburica, Klapa & Kolo, 7pm, Croatian Church Hall
Every Tuesday: Tamburica Škola, 7-8pm, Croatian Centre
Next Fest: Calgary, May 20-22, 2016