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 said.
‘Sadly the core of our original Russian-born audience members are getting fewer and fewer with the passage of time, so it is inevitable that English is creeping in. Anyway, the musicians like it. You can barely count the number of native Russian speakers in the orchestra on the fingers of one hand!’
The repertoire of the SBO is now enormous, so with an audience like this it is an excellent opportunity to revive some of our older items. ‘On the program today, were Volga River and Towards the Stars,’ said singer Sophia Markovtzev.
‘Many audience members would remember these songs from our CDs years ago,’ she said. ‘Volga River is one of the earlier songs recorded for the SBO, while Towards the Stars goes back to the days of the USA and USSR space race. I suppose you could say it was the Russian equivalent of Elton John’s Rocket Man. But Towards the Stars was written a lot earlier,’ she said.
The staff of St Sergius put on a lunch for the orchestra giving musicians a chance to wander round the newly created gardens surrounding the retirement home.