As part of the festival celebration "Days of Russian Culture," Luther College's Balalaika Ensemble performs at 7 p.m. Friday, June 7 in The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA) in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
This performance is open to the public. Tickets are $5 for students with ID, $10 for TMORA members and $15 for general admission. Tickets may be purchased online at https://tinyurl.com/lutherbalalaikamn. For more information about the "Days of Russian Culture" celebration, visit TMORA's page about the festival: https://tinyurl.com/tmoradaysofrussianculture.
The ensemble is directed by Laurie Iudin-Nelson, Luther full professor of Russian studies. Their program includes the classic Russian, Ukrainian and Romany songs "Kalinka," "The Ural Mountain Ash Tree," "Dark Eyes," "Two Guitars" and "Fellows, Unharness Your Horses." Additionally, they will perform the Jewish tune "Tum Balalaika" and Soviet tunes "Moscow Nights" and "Katiusha."
The only museum of its kind in North America, The Museum of Russian Art is a member-supported non-profit organization dedicated to granting opportunities to explore different perspectives on the civilization of Russia. For more information about TMORA, visit their website: https://tmora.org.
Members of the fully costumed ensemble include Luther students and alumni: Zachariah Mayer '20, kontra-bass balalaika; Annelise Myer '20, prima balalaika; Emma Everitt '20, prima balalaika; Greg Siems '12, prima balalaika; Sarah McRoberts '14, prima balalaika; Julia (Wymore) Buchkina '03, prima domra; and Aaron Murphy '06, vocal and percussion. Additional members include Matt Miller, kontra-bass balalaika, and Iudin-Nelson, accordion and vocal.
Iudin-Nelson founded the Luther Balalaika Ensemble in 1992. The ensemble has performed hundreds of concerts of Russian and Eastern European music throughout the country, including San Francisco, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and Kansas City.
As director of Russian studies, Iudin-Nelson teaches courses in Russian language, culture, history, literature and film. She has also organized service projects for the ensemble, raising thousands of dollars for charitable causes in Russia and scholarships for Luther students to study in Russia.
Iudin-Nelson holds a bachelor's degree from St. Olaf College in Russian, Russian Studies and history. She received her master's degree in Russian studies from the University of Minnesota and her doctoral degree in Slavic languages and literatures from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,005, 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: http://www.luther.edu.