Russian or not, the Sydney Balalaika Orchestra is a melodic display for all
The Sydney Balalaika Orchestra (SBO): renowned for its professionalism and “sparkling presentation” in all locales, is an interwoven fusion of multicultural Australian society that extends virtue, encouragement and inspiration beyond our national borders – in more ways than one or two.
Through an inimitable combination of ethnic origins, including Armenian, Belarusian, Chinese, Danish, Indian, Irish, North American, Polish, Serbian, Ukrainian, not forgetting Russian and ‘Australian’; the artists share in a passion and authenticity of mellow Russian folk music that ascends to even lively tunes.
On an international level, the group has completed a total of eight tours: Russia four times, China twice, Tasmania, New Zealand and, of course, travelling state wide throughout Australia to bring songs from their repertoire that reach diverse audiences.
“Music brings joy to anyone, doesn’t matter who you are or what you are,” Victor Serghie, musical director of SBO, said.
Music is the international language
With what was a formidable event in New Zealand’s history archives, the 6.3 Christchurch earthquake of 2011 shattered the lives of several thousand residents, the Sydney Balalaika Orchestra travelled across the Tasman to perform concerts throughout the region in support of the victims affected by the tragedy.
On November 4, 2019, a group of six from the SBO performed a number of songs at the Pioneer Theatre in Castle Hill, where they donated their time to the cause, as the Hills Harmony Choir had arranged a fundraiser event for the non-profit, emotional support organisation: Lifeline.
Victor is of Russian decent, using his proficiency in the language to create a more authentic experience by introducing the instruments and songs in Russian when they perform at other venues, such as the Russian retirement home: Saint Sergius of Radonezh.
Audiences with an abundant appreciation for possibly the more menial aspects of life, such as storytelling, continue to be amazed by the orchestra’s ensembles, utilising traditional Russian melodies as opportunities to revive young energy in the elder generations of Australian communities.
While dwindling in numbers, some of the retirees are Russian war veterans and not only are greatly appreciative of the music, Lazar Stojkov says, but evokes emotion and “… it means a lot to them because it’s what hey grew up with, reminding them of home again.”
As a Bass Domra performer since 2014, Lazar’s favourite part of being a part of SOB is touring, especially to far East-Russia in 2016 and just simply constantly engaging with all the older members of the group, finding they are still enjoyable to travel and play with.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped them from touring East-Russia yet again, cutting weekly rehearsals with 28 participants until further notice, but Victor says once this is all over, he is eager to get back to training the group and performing concerts.
The audiences very extremely grateful, you can really tell and it makes you proud of what you're doing.
“It’s a tangible result of your work, always rewarding,” said Lazar.
The need for smaller “pop-up” music presentations is ever present, catering for a wide range of individuals that have succumbed to adversity or those attempting to overcome ongoing crisis that continues to eat away at the heart and souls of Australians today.