Nicolai Pavlovich Budashkin
1910-1988 was a famous Soviet
composer who wrote some of the
most enduring arrangements of
Russian folk music for balalaika and
domra orchestras, and many of his
arrangements are played by the
Sydney Balalaika Orchestra.
During WW2, his music was used to inspire patriotic feeling.
After the war he became one of the musical directors for the
state Ossipov Balalaika Orchestra. He also wrote music for plays
and film scores.
The SBO is fortunate indeed to play some of his arrangements,
noted for their magnificent orchestration like: ‘Russian Fantasy,’
‘Fantasy on Russian Folk Songs,’ ‘Russian Overture’ and ‘Legend
of Lake Baikal.’
Budashkin had huge orchestras with 80 trained musicians at his
disposal. The SBO’s musical director Victor Serghie has not been
“Transforming these Budashkin scores to make them playable
for a smaller orchestra with fewer than 30 musicians, has been a
major challenge,” said Victor. “And somehow we have been able
to achieve it.”
Not far from Sydney in the Southern Highlands, near Fitzroy
Falls, is the enchanting little village of Burrawang. On the 19th
of October the SBO gave its first concert there in the School of
Arts. We often find that some of the orchestra’s most appreciative
audiences are in the countryside, and so it was in Burrawang.
The School of Arts is not a large building and the stage was even
smaller. Fortunately not the whole orchestra was able to attend
otherwise there would not have been room for them on the
It was Sunday 13th of October and once more the Sydney Balalaika
Orchestra (SBO) gave a concert at the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Singleton as part of their ‘Sacred Spaces’ musical programme.
“It was our third concert here, and one of our best,” said musical director Victor Serghie.
On 11 November last year, musical director Victor Serghie
and his wife Millie Serghie found themselves in Moscow
attending an international film festival, ‘Russia Abroad’.
Festival director Sergei Zaitsev had organised the event to
commemorate a number of hundred-year anniversaries,
including the end of WWI, the birth of Alexander
Solzhenitsyn and a hundred years since the execution of the
Russian imperial family, the Romanovs.
Singin' in the Rain! Ulladulla - 17 March 2019
It rained. It poured. It deluged. But the
sound of the rain thundering on the roof
of the Ulladulla Civic Centre never
dampened the audience’s enthusiasm for
the Sydney Balalaika Orchestra’s first
concert for 2019 on 17 March.
It was the second time the SBO had played in Ulladulla, 230 kms south of Sydney.
While the rain certainly kept the audience numbers down,
it was a reminder that distance does not diminish the enjoyment of our audiences.
The SBO’s players often form small
groups where there is a need for fewer
musicians or ‘pop up’ mood music.
On Sunday, 4 November, a group of six
SBO musicians played a few numbers at
the Pioneer Theatre in Castle Hill. SBO
members donated their time to the
event, as the Hills Harmony Choir had
arranged it as a fundraiser for Lifeline.
‘We were feeling a bit thin on the ground
with only a fifth of the usual orchestra on
stage, so we invited the Harmony Choir to
join us for our last number,’
In spring, we performed in the Southern Highlands village of Robertson, famous for its fogs, potatoes and cheese. The last time the SBO performed here was in 2007, eleven years ago. We arrived at the School of Arts Hall, a charming building that was improved in the thirties, but dates back to the late nineteenth century.
Every year the Sydney Balalaika Orchestra plays at the retirement home in Cabramatta named after the famous Russian
Orthodox Saint Sergius of Radonezh, and this year was no
different. The orchestra plays free for the residents who are
amongst our most appreciative of audiences.
‘For many years at St Sergius, I have introduced the orchestra
using the Russian language,’ says musical director Victor
Serghie. ‘But more and more I now find I am using English,’ he
The SBO is always seeking to perform at new venues and maybe you know somewhere that we can visit and introduce a new audience to our beautiful Russian folk music. We also need additional musicians so if you come up with any ideas please contact our Musical Director, Victor Serghie on 0409 058 895 or our Secretary Oliver Rathje on 0417 603 356.