Kalina Balalaika Ensemble, formed in Manchester UK in mid 2008, is a group of musicians specialising in a largely Russian repertoire played on Russian traditional instruments.
Though the group is a ‘balalaika’ ensemble, we use both the famous balalaika, and its lesser known sister the domra. Whereas the main instrument is played with the fingers in a variety of styles, the domra is almost exclusively played with a plectrum. We currently have 6 players, comprising 2 balalaikas, 3 domras, and a bass. For special occasions we have been known to bring out the collosal contrabass balalaika, a triangle with sides four feet long and a neck taking it past the height of the average person.
The players in this group all have come to the instrument through the long tradition of balalaika playing in Manchester. The Kalinka Balalaika Orchestra, a youth orchestra specialising in Russian music and Russian instruments, was founded in 1984 by our very own Brian Hulme, and continues to draw talented players from local schools to this day. Many of our players have been on one of our five trips to St. Petersburg, most recently in 2014, where we took tuition with top level players and were conducted by professional Russian musicians.