Thursday, May 1, 2014

Flying Balalaika Brothers - Old Piece

Since Spring 2012 I've worked as a manager for Musical Connections. Here's a piece I wrote on their behalf a while back.

          The Flying Balalaika Brothers are comprised of Soviet-trained musicians who emigrated to the United States in the early 1990's and have since settled in Texas. When a voice from a Texas crowd yelled out, "This sounds like zombie music!", Sergey and Zhenya realized they had an opportunity to incorporate humor into their sound because it seemed so foreign to Texas audiences.

          Sergey Vashchenko has a Masters degree in Orchestral Conducting, Teaching, and Balalaika Performance from the Mussorgsky Ural State Conservatory in Sverdlovsk, Russia and was a contender for Grammy Awards in the World Music Category in 2003 and 2008. His partner, Zhenya Kolykhanov, graduated from the Tchaikovsky Music College in Vologda, Russia in 1984.

          Sergey and Zhenya have brought this formal training and talent with them to Austin, Texas where they have created a non profit organization called Musical Connections and a band called The Flying Balalaika Brothers. The entities enjoy a symbiotic relationship - the non profit provides financial support for educational workshops Sergey and Zhenya conduct at area schools while the band personifies the nonprofit.

          A new CD called Op Op Romale, loosely translated as "Hey Hey Gypsy people", represents two years of studio work . The album incorporates humor into a mix of Russian, Romani-Gypsy, and American music. Although the lyrics are sung predominantly in English, four of the sixteen tracks are written entirely in Russian.

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