The Luther College Balalaika Ensemble will perform in concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, in the Main Hall of the Center for Faith and Life on the Luther campus.
The concert is open to the public with no charge for admission, although a free-will offering is appreciated to benefit the Bruce and Amy Wrightsman Memorial Scholarship, which supports study abroad for Luther Russian studies students.
The fully costumed ensemble features Russian folk instruments such as the balalaika and the domra, as well as vocalists, accordion and percussion. The ensemble has performed hundreds of concerts of Russian and East European music through out the Midwest in schools, colleges, churches and community centers. They have also performed in San Francisco, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Kansas City, Minneapolis and Chicago. Through its many benefit concerts, the ensemble has raised thousands of dollars for charitable causes in Russia and at home.
The Balalaika Ensemble is directed by Laurie Iudin-Nelson, professor of Russian studies, who founded the group in 1992. Ensemble members include Luther students Emily Markee, prima balalaika; Evan Ruchotzke, vocal and prima balalaika; Andi Beckendorf, contrabass balalaika; Katherine Ashcraft, bass balalaika; Andrea Markert, bass domra; Sarah McRoberts, prima balalaika; Nathan Plass, prima balalaika; Laura Hayes, prima balalaika; Alexander Erikson, prima balalaika; Brian Witte, prima domra; and Laurie Iudin-Nelson, accordion and music director.
Special guest vocalist, Ami Hall, Luther class of 1996, will join the ensemble to perform favorite Russian and Romany songs such as "Dark Eyes," "Two Guitars," "Kalinka" and "Moscow Nights."