Arts and Culture | Events

Hear balalaikas ringing out at orchestra’s annual concert of music and dance

Folk dancers, musicians, and singers will join the Arizona Balalaika Orchestra for its 40th anniversary concert in Tucson on Saturday, March 7.

The Arizona Balalaika Orchestra’s 40th Anniversary Concert of traditional music and dance of Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and other Slavic countries is Saturday, March 7, at 7 p.m. at Pima Community College Center for the Arts. The 25-member orchestra, founded in 1980 by Mia Bulgarin Gay, presents a wide spectrum of Slavic classical and folk music on authentic instruments, including the triangular balalaika, the mandolin-like domra, the harp-like gusli, as well as wind and percussion instruments.

The orchestra will present as its special guest artists the professional Russian duo of Iryna Orlova, playing the Russian domra, and Anatoly Mamalyga, performing on the Russian bayan accordion. Natives of Kiev, Ukraine, and graduates of the renowned Ukrainian National Tchaikovsky Academy of Music, this husband-wife team have performed throughout Russia, Ukraine, Europe, and North America, including at least four times in Tucson. They now direct the Los Angeles Balalaika Orchestra.

Tucson’s Lajkonik Polish Folk Ensemble, under the direction of Matthew and Joanna Schmit, will join the concert. Vocalists Natalia Neazimbyetov and Guy Velgos will bring popular Russian folk songs to the show.

Alexander Tentser, a Jewish Ukrainian-born concert pianist and graduate of the Gnessin Music Institute of Moscow and the University of Arizona, will conduct this family-friendly concert. Tickets at $18, $13 for students, are available at the PCC box office, 206-6986 or Discounted tickets can be purchased in person for $15/$10, cash or check, at The Folk Shop, 2525 N. Campbell Ave., 881-7147. For more information, call 327-4418, or visit