Russkie Musikanti, left to right:
Cindy Stroup – Prima Domra. Cindy organizes concerts and music. She also plays mandolin in the Takoma Mandoleers, a mandolin-guitar orchestra.
Penny Weissman – Prima and Alto Domra. Penny plays classical guitar. She is the ensemble leader and responsible for arrangements and artistic direction.
Lisa Bell - Tenor Domra. Lisa Bell has played violin and mandolin in various groups. Living in Croatia for six years led to her interest in Slavic music.
Peter DiGiovanni – Accordion. Peter plays piano, arranges music, is an award winning composer, and President of Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society.
Kathy Hulan – Prima Domra. Kathy is CFO of Washington Balalaika Society. She also plays sekunda balalaika and is a member of the Beltway Balalaikas.
Dick Hulan – Kontrabass Balalaika. Dick also plays a number of other folk instruments and is a member of the Beltway Balalaikas.
Jane Purcell — Sekunda Balalaika. Jane also plays piano and has performed in several choral and dance groups.
Janet Bohm – Prima Balalaika. Jan is President of the Washington Balalaika Society. She is a member of the Beltway Balalaikas and the Reston Chorale.
Jim Pope — Alto Balalaika and vocals. Jim also plays prima balalaika, piano, and has performed in choral groups at the Kennedy Center and across Europe.
Katia Bogdanov — Vocals and Percussion. Katia has Master's in Choral Conducting and Voice and has been singing with different groups her whole life.
The Russkie Musikanti is an ensemble of the Washington Balalaika Society, the largest Russian folk orchestra in the United States. The ensemble wears traditional Russian costumes and performs on authentic Russian folk instruments bringing the music of Russia and Eastern Europe to the broader community.
A typical music program includes a sampling of different styles of Russian and Eastern European music, including some music that was especially composed for these folk instruments. There are happy songs and sad songs, songs to dance to and songs to listen to – music that reflects the vastness of Russia and Eastern Europe and the diversity of their people.
The ensemble consists of balalaikas, domras, accordion, a variety of percussion instruments, and features two vocalists. The domra is a round-backed instrument similar to instruments brought to Russia by the Mongols in the 1200’s. The balalaika is a triangular shaped instrument that was originally a peasant instrument derived from the domra. The quintessential Russian folk instrument, the balalaika was perfected in the 1890’s and became the professional level instrument of today.
More information about the Russkie Musikanti and the Washington Balalaika Society can be found at www.balalaika.org and on our Facebook pages.
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