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St. Vincent's gallery, concert series director savors arts immersion

Shirley McMarlin
| Thursday, April 28, 2016, 3:09 p.m.
Ann Holmes, director of the St. Vincent Gallery and St. Vincent College Concert Series poses for a portrait inside the Gallery at the St. Vincent College Carey Student Center in Latrobe.
Rebecca Emanuele | for the Tribune-Review
Ann Holmes, director of the St. Vincent Gallery and St. Vincent College Concert Series poses for a portrait inside the Gallery at the St. Vincent College Carey Student Center in Latrobe.

Ann Holmes of Cook Township could be described as a modern-day Renaissance woman. She majored in English and Asian studies at Hood College in Maryland and earned a master of arts degree in theology from St. Vincent Seminary in 2006. She is immersed in music and the visual arts in her work at St. Vincent College, where she is the director of the concert series and administrative director of the art gallery. She expresses her creativity in her personal interests and hobbies. She and husband, Henry, instilled a love of beauty in their now-adult daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth, by taking what she calls “fall art trips,” yearly excursions to art exhibits in cities such as Baltimore, Columbus, Cleveland and Washington, D.C.

Question: How long have you been at St. Vincent?

Answer: Years ago, I worked with Father (Joseph) Bronder, the founder of the concert series. When he became ill, I scheduled the recitals, choral groups and lessons. Then I needed a break and went to work in a family business, and Brother Nathan Cochran took over. When he died suddenly, I got a call from Dr. (John) Smetanka, the academic dean, asking, “Is there any chance we can talk to you about coming back?” I came back in the fall of 2014. Brother Nathan already had the concert series set and the gallery schedule taken care of, so I've just finished up my first academic year of doing it all on my own.

Q: How do you choose talent for the concert series?

A: I like to have a blend of artists who will be engaging for the students especially. I look for vocalists, violinists, pianists.

There are a few classical music competitions for young performers in New York; one is the Concert Artists Guild and one is Young Concert Artists. They're both terrific. The musicians go through an audition process, so by the finals, it's the best of the best getting their careers started.

With the new organ in the basilica, we always look for an organist. Father Cyprian Constantine, who is head of the music department, is an organist himself, so he is extremely helpful with finding them.

Q: How do you choose the art gallery shows?

A: A lot of artists bring their work to my attention. We also have the Juried Catholic Arts Competition every two years, and that is coming around again in the fall. There are a lot of artists whose work I get to know through the competition.

We also have a terrific collection we've accumulated over the years. When Boniface Wimmer came to Latrobe to found St. Vincent, he brought a lot of artwork with him from King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who was his patron. Between 1846, when St. Vincent was founded, and 1880, he made five trips back and forth to Europe, and he would bring back art supplies, books and paintings. We have a terrific tradition of support for the arts going back to Boniface Wimmer.

Q: Have you always worked in the arts?

A: I actually started in nonprofit management. My first job out of college was doing educational programming and marketing for the American College of Cardiology. I worked for the Westmoreland Trust for a few years and then for the downtown project in Latrobe.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

A: I dabble in painting, and I do needlework. I like to garden a little bit and to cook.

Q: What's on your personal music playlist?

A: The Killers, Prince, the Beach Boys, “Gimme Shelter,” David Bowie, Mumford (and Sons), the Kinks, Florence and the Machine, and then I have Pavarotti's “Nessun Dorma.” I like everything from classical and rock to new wave and jazz. I listen to WYEP. I like being challenged and to be fresh with what's going on in music.

Q: What are your favorite art styles?

A: I like medieval and contemporary and some Impressionism. Matisse is my favorite of the Impressionists. I like David Hockney and Gustav Klimt, and John Singer Sargent's portraits are gorgeous.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750 or

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