September 2015 Newsletter

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Every year the Sydney Balalaika Orchestra gives a concert in the Russian Club, Strathfield. And every year the hall is usually filled to near capacity. But the 2015 concert was different and organisers scrambled to put out extra chairs to cope with an overflowing audience.
While this concert is given in the Russian Club, more than half the audience was made up of people with no Russian ancestry whatsoever. This is as it should be since only a quarter of the SBO musicians have any ancestral or actual links with Russia.

Equally pleasing is the SBO’s growing acceptance by the Russian diplomatic corps in Australia. This year, the Russian Federation’s Consul-General in Sydney, Mr. S. B. Shipilov, attended the concert & he was not disappointed. “Artists establish the closest contacts between countries far more successfully than do politicians or diplomats” he said. His wife Tatiana Afanasevna was equally impressed. “I am particularly pleased that the ensemble consists not only of Russian musicians. It is a multinational orchestra & that gives out huge positive energy” she said.
The dean of the Russian Orthodox Church parishes of NSW Father Nikita Chemodakov, also attended the concert & was very impressed. But it was his wife who praised the SBO’s musical director Victor Serghie, whom she remembers from a very young age. “He used to perform at dances for young people. But in those days he used to play the saxophone. I was delighted with his talent then, but I am lost in admiration for the colossal task he has taken on now. To create a team, make arrangements for all those instruments & create such a great orchestra. It is a joy to the Russian soul”

And what does it feel like if you are a performer? The SBO’s principal prima domra player Tanya Jephtha who graduated from the Russia’s Voronezh Academy of music, said “some members of the audience say after the performance that they just want to sing and dance. Well in this upbeat environment, we in the orchestra also want to sing and dance. I have been with the orchestra now for six years and often after concerts I still feel the adrenaline rush”  

Sophia-2015-1.jpgSophia Makovtzev and orchestra

Lucy Voronov (cimbalom) who is no stranger to performance also admits to an adrenalin rush on stage. ‘Each time I perform, I feel nervous & worried’. And it's not just me. It’s the same with all our musicians. So after a successful concert you have a wonderful feeling of satisfaction; emotion mixed with a feeling of joy.”

Vladimir Shvedov, vocalist, sharing a laugh with the audienceVladimir-RC-2015.jpg

So, who decides on the music program that the SBO will choose from it’s large repertoire ? “

As our annual concert has become a tradition” says Lucy, “there are a number of well known Russian pieces which we must play. They are expected & so they are obligatory. But we also need to constantly do something new. I will reveal a secret. I want to bring to our repertoire a few works from Belorussian folklore. That’s my homeland where I came from and where I studied music”, she said.

The person who is usually most exhausted after each performance is the SBO’s musical director Victor Serghie. “We treat every concert as a major event, whether there are 100, 200, or a thousand, in the audience. And we must play with an equal sense of dedication.” And he should know. He’s the one waving his arms around. And it is he who injects the energy into every SBO performance.

Said Victor Serghie: “The team is growing. Some potential recruits come to see what it is like to play
with us. Many then stay with the orchestra for years. Richard She, Sonja Stojkov and Nikolai Shcherbakov all started very young and now they are towering above me in height. But we are always on the look out for new players".

Danilo Garovic with Lina ChegadaevDanilo-Lina-2015.jpg

A case in point is one of our newest recruits, Danilo Garovic who was referred by his music teacher, Lina Chegodaev. Lina used to be one of the orchestra’s leading bayan soloists. Indeed one of her best known solos gave its name to the SBO’s CD ‘Rassipuha’. We live in hope that eventually Lina will return to the SBO but for the moment we are very happy with her “student prodigy”. Quite a number of the SBO’s players are music teachers, so it is not surprising that they are a very good source of new blood in the orchestra. The SBO welcomes our latest recruits, Lazar Stojkov, bass domra, Danilo Garovic, accordion, George Sheslow, accordion and Sagar Nagaraj, domra.

Rehearsals take place every week, on Tuesday night at Homebush Boys High School. We are always on the lookout for new talent. Please call Victor Serghie on 96170531 or use the contact form on this site.

Campbelltown Town Hall - Sunday 1st November - 2:30 pm
297 Queen St, Campbelltown - Bookings link here. Enquiries Bruce Barker 0418 402 712