The American Balalaika Symphony

is a full symphony orchestra comprised of an internationally diverse mix of professional and dedicated amateur musicians from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Founded in 2001, the American Balalaika Symphony performs a range of music from beloved Russian folk melodies to classical favorites to rarely heard symphonic masterpieces. Prominent virtuoso soloists from the Russian Federation perform regularly with the Symphony each concert season.

By embracing the rich traditions of the Russian Music School, while drawing on the best of European and American musical traditions, founder, artistic director and conductor Peter Trofimenko has created a unique American orchestra.

Dr. Trofimenko, who lives and works in the Washington, D.C. metro area, was classically trained in Kiev in balalaika performance, conducting, arrangement and composition. He emigrated to the United States in 1993.

A balalaika orchestra is similar to a traditional symphony orchestra, but uses Russian plucked string instruments, such as the balalaika and domra, rather than Western bowed instruments such as the violin and cello. Sustained “string” tone is produced by the frequent use of rapid tremolo playing, which gives the balalaika orchestra its distinctive shimmering sound. Today there are less than a dozen or so balalaika orchestras in the United States.

Unlike most of the others, The American Balalaika Symphony rounds out its traditional balalaika ensemble with full wind and percussion sections similar to those of a conventional symphony but with unusual additions, such as the bayan (Russian button accordion), gusli (Russian table harp), and cimbalom (similar to a hammered dulcimer).

Tickets for the American Balalaika Symphony are priced to encourage appreciation of these ancient Russian instruments and their unique sound. Special rates are offered for seniors, students, and groups of five or more.

Opportunities are available for new members in all sections of the orchestra. Everyone from beginners to seasoned musicians is welcome, and prospective members need not audition. All that is required is a desire to embrace the experience of playing music with passion and perseverance, and that you continue to grow with the orchestra. We also welcome those who are interested in contributing to the orchestra in non-musical ways. Please visit our “Join Us” page to find out more.

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