News Archive

Washington Balalaika Orchestra to Perform on Campus

Russian orchestra features Lynchburg native

10/13/2005 9:39:44 AM


A native of Lynchburg will return home Oct. 30 to perform with the Washington Balalaika Orchestra. The free performance will be held in Smith Hall Theatre at 4:30 p.m.

Founded in 1988, the Washington Balalaika Orchestra has more than fifty members and is the largest orchestra of its kind in the United States. Its members specialize in the study and performance of the balalaika, domra, bayan, and other related folk, wind, and percussion instruments. The orchestra has musicians at all levels from beginner to professional, from teens to 90s in age.

A native of Lynchburg, Elizabeth Williamson Gardner, has been a part of the group since 1998. An alumna of E.C. Glass High School and Lynchburg College, Gardner grew up beside Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and took music classes at the college. She also studied at the New England Conservatory.

Her interest in Russia widened after her first trip there in 1973. Many trips and much study later, she now regularly takes part in the orchestra’s performances. Also appearing with the orchestra will be Francie Fite, a 1961 R-MWC alumna.

The concert at R-MWC will feature Svetlana Nikonova as conductor. A graduate of one of Russia's preeminent postgraduate conservatories with a degree in conducting as well as a former professional orchestra musician herself, Nikonova is also an experienced and gifted orchestral arranger, able to adapt musical selections from folk to classical to the specific strengths of the musicians and sections.

The Washington Balalaika Orchestra is part of the Balalaika Society. This orchestra is dedicated to preserving the art of Russian, Ukrainian and Eastern European traditional folk music. Musicians wear traditional dress and play traditional instruments.

For more information, contact 947-8142.

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations