Luther College Balalaika Ensemble to perform March 4

The Luther College Balalaika Ensemble will give a 2 p.m. concert Sunday, March 4, in the Center for the Arts atrium on the Luther campus.

The family-friendly concert, open to the public with no charge for admission, features Ami Hall as special guest vocalist. A 1996 Luther graduate, Hall is a performing artist and educator from Littleton, Colorado.

The performance includes classic Russian and Ukrainian folk songs, Romany songs "Kalinka," "The Ural Mountain Ash Tree," "Dark Eyes," "Two Guitars," "Fellows, Unharness Your Horses," the Jewish favorite "Tum Balalaika" and Soviet tunes "Moscow Nights" and "Katiusha."

Members of the ensemble include: prima balalaikas Emma Everitt, first-year student, Sarah McRoberts, class of 2014, Annelise Myers, first-year student, Shai Shay, sophomore, and Greg Siems, class of 2012; contra bass balalaika Zachariah Mayer, first-year; bass balalaika Andrea Markert, class of 2016; prima domra Julia (Wymore) Buchkina, class of 2003; and Luther professor Laurie Iudin-Nelson, accordion.

Founded in 1992 by Iudin-Nelson, the ensemble features full-costumed performers using Russian folk instruments like the balalaika and domra, in addition to vocalists, accordion and percussion. The ensemble has performed hundreds of concerts featuring Russian and East European music in schools, colleges, churches and community centers throughout the Midwest and as far away as San Francisco, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Kansas City.

Luther is the only college in the U.S. to host its own balalaika ensemble. Participation is open to all members of the Luther community.

In addition to performances, Iudin-Nelson has organized service projects for the ensemble, with money raised being used for charitable causes in Russia and scholarships for Luther students to study abroad in Russia.

A member of the Luther faculty since 1992, Iudin-Nelson is the director of the Russian studies program, teaching courses in Russian language, culture, history, literature and film. She recently was honored for 25 years of service at Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, Minnesota, with an endowed scholarship established in her name.

Iudin-Nelson earned a bachelor's degree from St. Olaf College, a master's degree in Russian studies from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literatures from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.         

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: