The Washington Balalaika Society Orchestra, the largest of its kind in North America, is comprised of more than 60 musicians dedicated to studying, preserving, and performing on authentic and traditional folk instruments works from the rich musical heritage of Slavic countries including Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe.
The orchestra is made up of balalaikas, often referred to as “the three-stringed Russian guitar,” and domras, which are mandolin-sized lutes, along with bayans, a type of button accordion, and various woodwind and percussion instruments. Programs include selections by classical Russian composers, regional folk songs and dances, and new music that explores the possibilities of this unique family of instruments.
Featured members of the WBS Orchestra include conductor and artistic director Svetlana Nikonova, who graduated from one of Russia's preeminent conservatories, and Andrei Saveliev, a virtuoso balalaika soloist. The orchestra has performed at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Smithsonian Institution, Embassy of the Russian Federation, Constitution Hall and numerous other venues.