Peter Omelchenko, until recently a member of Moscow’s renowned Osipov balalaika orchestra, is a domra virtuoso, arranger, and composer who is currently orchestra conductor and soloist of the Washington Balalaika Society (WBS).
Peter spent his childhood in the south of Russia, where he was surrounded by the rich folk-music traditions of the Cossack people. Now a representative of today’s leading school of Russian folk-instrument performance, Peter studied at Moscow’s Gnessin Academy in the special class of Alexander Tsygankov, who recognized the particularly heartfelt character and distinctive timbre of Peter’s domra technique. While still a student, Peter won significant awards at many prestigious competitions, such as the “Cup of the North” in Cherepovets. Before joining the Osipov orchestra, he was a member of the Nekrasov Radio and Television Folk Instrument Orchestra, also in Moscow, and performed regularly with several other orchestras and smaller ensembles. Peter has appeared in some of Russia’s most famous venues, including the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, and – as a guest artist with the Red Army Ensemble – the Bolshoi Theater.
In the United States, Peter has performed on the Millennium Stage of Washington’s Kennedy Center, presented several solo recitals at the Lyceum Theater in Alexandria, Virginia, and regularly participated in successive national conventions of the Balalaika and Domra Association of America (BDAA) as a guest artist and teacher of domra master classes. Nowadays, Peter performs very actively as part of Concert à la Carte and the esteemed duo Musalliance with guitarist Anna Kusner. Peter’s broad repertoire includes Eastern European and international folk music, classical music transcriptions, popular favorites, and his own compositions.
In addition to his performance career, Peter has earned an enviable reputation as an arranger. Many orchestras and smaller groups in different countries have played his arrangements of a wide variety of music. Recently, for example, he arranged and orchestrated a Russian folk-instrument interpolation for world-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli’s new recording of “Lara’s Theme” from Doctor Zhivago, in which the Osipov orchestra participated.
A consummate entertainer, Peter has also been active in musical theater, performing on stage in a number of roles: singing, dancing, and improvising on multiple instruments, while also contributing original music and choreography. He maintains a popular YouTube channel which presents interesting and unusual videos of folk-instrument performances.
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Conductor Peter Omelchenko