Director, Mr. Andrew Benda

     Mr. Andrew Benda was the first director of the DTO. He continued as such until his death in 1966. His activity in the field of tamburitza music started at a young age. He was active with his own orchestra “Jedinstvo” as a bugaria player. He was also an active member of the Detroit Tamburitza Symphony, a group which included the most accomplished musicians at the time. His main interest, however, involved the teaching of the tamburitza to children.

     The DTO was originally started to provide adults with the opportunity to continue, and sometimes, begin their musical education, especially as it pertained to the tamburitza. Mr. Benda’s interest in the field of tamburitza was two-fold: first, he wished that the tambura and its music, would raise above the social level to the stage in concert form; second, since he spent much of his teaching years with children, he wished a place for his young students to continue their interest in playing and performing music with the tamburitza instrument.

     He saw DTO as an excellent opportunity to fulfill both of these desires. So it began, so it continued and so it is today. The DTO has accomplished the primary purposes which were of such importance in both his mind and his heart.

     The group, under his direction performed its first concert in 1958 at the Croatian Club on E. McNichols Road. Its opening number was “Iz Narodnog Vrtica”, a favorite of the old Detroit Tamburitza Symphony. Good music was hard to come by in those days so in 1958 he took a trip to Yugoslavia to seek new music for the group. His trip lead to friendships with the most noted composers of tambura music and established ties between them and the DTO which still exist.