The Washington Balalaika Society was founded in 1988 by a group of Washington-area musicians interested in studying and performing the music of Russia, Ukraine and eastern Europe on traditional Russian folk instruments -- the balalaika, domra, bayan and related folk wind and percussion instruments. The Society's initial membership of eight has grown to more than sixty, and the WBS Orchestra is now the largest of its kind in America with musicians at all levels from beginner to professional, from teens to 80s in age.
in the WBS is open to anyone, musician or not, who shares an interest in this distinctive music and rich culture. Membership in the Society's folk orchestra is open to musicians or aspiring musicians who are able to read music and have some background in playing an instrument, though not necessarily a Russian folk instrument. The WBS is a community-based, 501.c.3 cultural and educational organization supported in large part by deductible donations from friends and benefactors through our Balalaika Guild ®
are held throughout the year on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 to 9:30 pm, and on many Saturday mornings from 10:00 am until Noon.
Additional information on the WBS and its programs may be obtained by writing to us.
The WBS Orchestra
The WBS Orchestra is organized in instrumental sections similar to a symphony orchestra, under the direction of a conductor. The instruments of the orchestra include domras in five voices ( first and second prima domra, alto, tenor and bass), five sizes of balalaikas (prima, sekunda, alto, bass, contrabass), guslis (table psalteries), accordions/bayans, wind instruments (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and folk winds) and both conventional and folk percussion instruments.
The Orchestra presents more than a dozen concerts each year including its annual Spring and Fall Concert Series, and appears at festivals, parks, museums, churches and other public and private venues during the year. The WBS Orchestra has performed at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall with the Paul Hill Chorale and The Choral Arts Society; Carnegie Hall in New York; the Round Lake Auditorium in New York's Adirondacks; Lisner Auditorium, the Embassy of the Russian Federation, Constitution Hall and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington; NOVA-Annandale; NOVA-Alexandria; James Madison University; The Theater at Washington, VA; Randolph-Macon Woman's College; Kean University in New Jersey; Walters Gallery in Baltimore and the Ceres Mansion and Weinberg Theatre in Frederick, MD as well as many other sites both large and small in the greater Washington area.
Orchestra rehearsals are held each Wednesday evening at the Rock Spring Congregational Church, Little Falls Road near Rock Spring Drive in Arlington, Virginia, starting promptly at 7:30 pm. With prior notice, rehearsals are open to visitors.
Active teaching programs
include instruction from basic to advanced levels in balalaika, domra and bayan as well as in guitar, although guitars are not included in the orchestra. 'Loaner' instruments are often available for use until the student can obtain his or her own personal instrument.
The Balalaika Guild ®
Some of our patrons join simply because they are interested in the music we play, or because they want to help in areas where we need outside support. All are welcome. We're always in need of willing workers in the areas of publicity and promotion, concert logistics, outreach, liaison with other arts organizations, fund raising and grant requests, maintenance of our music library, audio recording, stage management, costumes and many other tasks.
This is a society of friends of the Washington Balalaika Society who wish to provide needed support to the WBS and its programs. We are deeply grateful to them for their generosity. Click here for more information about The Balalaika Guild.
For those unfamiliar with Russian folk instruments, or others who want to improve their technique and learn more about proper playing, instruction is offered at levels from beginner through advanced. A limited number of "loaner" instruments allow the interested player to begin lessons before acquiring an instrument. In addition to balalaika and domra, we teach bayan, guitar and piano. Interested? Ask us
The WBS Music Academy
, started in 2008, offers musical instruction to children ages 5 through 14. More information
Send a Message
to the WBS Music Director