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Andreyev Folk Russian Orchestra (Orchestra)

The brilliant performance of eight musicians calling themselves, the Balalaika Circle, one of whom was its founder Vasily Andreyev, marked the Orchestra's beginning, on March 20, 1888. Andreyev saw that the balalaika's unique and inimitable sound was intrinsic to Russian folk music and that both deserved greater recognition. By 1913, when it celebrated its 25th anniversary, the Orchestra has grown to 30 members and become well known in Russia and abroad, with tours in Germany, France, Great Britain, America, and Canada. The acclaim of "incomparable" by music critics proved Andreyev's vision right and led him to decide that the time had come for the State to support and promote the Orchestra, in order to preserve this important element of Russian cultural heritage. The domra and gusli (plucked dulcimer), inevitably, joined the balalaika in this great purpose, and the group was re-named the Imperial Russian Court Orchestra. The jubilee concert that launched this noble enterprise was attended by the highest St.Petersburg society, including the Imperial Court, and was held in Mariinsky Theatre. After the concert the famous bass, Shalyapin, proclaiming Andreyev's success, said: "Dear Vasily Vasilievich, you have cherished an orphan-balalaika in your bosom. By your love and care it become a real Russian Beauty and conquered the world with its charm". Sarah Bernhardt and Arthur Nikish's telegrams were among the hundreds congratulating Andreyev on his vision and artistry. France elected him to The Academy of Fine Arts, in recognition of his contribution to the world of music. By 1917 the Orchestra had succeeded so well in its professed purpose that Russian folk music was played in the great concert halls in and out Russia, and balalaika and domra societies had sprung up in many places. In the music world, these instruments now enjoyed the prestige of the violin and cello. The Orchestra survived the horrors of World War II, the siege of Leningrad and the "iron curtain", without loosing the distinctive colour and traditions established by its founder, who died in 1918. Since then, it has been headed by well known conductors such as F. Niman, E.Grikurov, S.Eltsin, K.Eliasberg. L. Stokovski and A. Naidenov, V.Dubrovsky and V. Fedoseyev guest conducted as well. In 1986, when Dmitry Hochlov became artistic director and principal conductor, the Orchestra included 50 musicians. In 1988, under the baton of Hochlov, the Orchestra celebrated its 100th anniversary with a concert in the Leningrad Philharmonic Hall. Orchestra tours Japan, the USA, Finland and Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and Greece, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Romania and France. The best confirmation of this is the success of the CD of “Andreyev” released by “EMI-Classics”. Repertoire of Andreyev orchestra includes arrangements of Russian and foreign classical music (M. Glinka, P. Tchaikovski, M. Mussorgski, N. Rimsky-Korsakov, A. Lyadov, S. Rahmaninov, A. Glazunov, A. Grechaninov, I. Stravinski, J. Rossini, F. Shubert, E. Grieg, M. Ravel, I. Strauss, J. Sibelius, J. Enescu, A. Dvorak, M. Theodorakis and others), arrangements of old Russian folk songs and original compositions of V. Andreyev. Arrangements of the folk music of different nations (Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Latin American, Swedish etc.), modern music (D. Schostakovich, S. Prokofiev, A. Khachaturyan, G. Sviridov, V. Gavrilin, A. Petrov, I. Rogalev, G. Belov, V. Bibergan etc.) and vocal music (opera arias, romances; Russian, Neapolitanic and other songs).

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