The American Balalaika Symphony (ABS) is a full symphony orchestra comprised of an internationally diverse mix of 50-plus musicians from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Currently, ABS is a resident orchestra of Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center in Alexandria, VA.
Each concert season, ABS performs a stunning range of music from beloved Russian folk melodies to classical favorites to rarely heard symphonic masterpieces, often with prominent virtuoso soloists from around the world.
A traditional but unique symphony orchestra
Unlike a traditional symphony orchestra, ABS fans enjoy the distinctive shimmering sound of a balalaika orchestra, which uses Russian plucked string instruments such as the balalaika and domra rather than bowed instruments such as the violin and cello, and the artistry of rapid tremolo playing that makes these instruments so unique.
Today there are fewer than seven balalaika orchestras in the United States. Unlike most of the others, ABS rounds out its balalaika ensemble with full wind and percussion sections and unusual additions, such as the bayan (Russian button accordion), gusli (Russian table harp), and cimbalom (similar to a hammered dulcimer).
By combining the rich traditions of the Russian Music School with the best of European and American music, founder, artistic director, and conductor Peter Trofimenko has created a truly unique American orchestra that, with each concert, produces a rare and wonderful experience for lovers of great classical music.
Awards and recognitions
In 2009, ABS took the top spot in the Strathmore art center's 25th Anniversary Competition, besting 34 other performing arts competitors from Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
ABS is also the winner of the 2007 International Music Golden Trophy Competition, where a panel of six distinguished judges from the United States, Japan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine selected the American Balalaika Symphony over 87 other international participants.
ABS also won the 5th annual competition of "Musical Vladivostok 2007, which was held under the auspices of the Russian Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency.
And in May 2008 ABS conductor and artistic director Peter Trofimenko was appointed to the Russian Academy of Folk Music — the only living conductor of a folk orchestra to be so honored.
A loyal and growing audience
Although a young orchestra, the American Balalaika Symphony is developing a dedicated following throughout the Washington metropolitan area for its distinctive performances and uncommon repertoire of music, including rare and seldom heard pieces, all individually arranged for balalaika orchestra by Maestro Trofimenko.
A true community organization, ABS strives to stimulate interest in classical music and to pass on the musical arts by teaching music lovers how to play the balalaika and domra and perform in concert. ABS concerts are also accessible and affordable, and presented in a warm and hospitable environment that provides a fascinating glimpse into Russian music and culture.