Luther College Balalaika Ensemble to perform on March 3

February 19, 2019

The Luther College Balalaika Ensemble, featuring special guest Ami Hall, class of 1996, will perform in concert at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 3, in Shirley Baker Commons on the Luther campus.

The concert is open to the public with no charge for admission. Young children are encouraged to attend.

The ensemble, directed by Laurie Iudin-Nelson, professor of Russian studies at Luther, will perform classic Russian and Ukrainian folk songs and Romany songs “Kalinka” “The Ural Mountain Ash Tree,” “Dark Eyes,” “Two Guitars,” “Fellows, Unharness Your Horses,” “Tum Balalaika,” “Moscow Nights” and “Katiusha.”

Current Luther students and alumni make up the ensemble: Zachariah Mayer, ’20, contra bass balalaika, Annelise Myers, ’20, prima balalaika, Emma Everitt, ’20, prima balalaika, Greg Siems, ’12, prima balalaika, Sarah McRoberts, ’14, prima balalaika, Julia (Wymore) Buchkina, ’03, prima domra, Aaron Murphy, ’06, vocal and percussion, Evan Ruchotzke, ’14, vocal, and Iudin-Nelson, accordion and vocal.

Iudin-Nelson founded the Balalaika Ensemble in 1992 and has directed and performed with them ever since; they are now concluding their 27th year. The fully costumed ensemble features Russian folk instruments such as the balalaika and domra, as well as vocalists, accordion and percussion.

Performing as far away as San Francisco, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Kansas City, the ensemble has also performed hundreds of concerts of Russian and Eastern European music throughout Midwest schools, colleges, churches and community centers.

Iudin-Nelson has also organized service projects for the ensemble, raising thousands of dollars for charitable causes in Russia and scholarships for Luther students to study abroad in Russia. She was recently honored for 25 years of service at Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, Minnesota, and an endowed scholarship was established there in her name.

A member of the Luther faculty since 1992, Iudin-Nelson teaches courses in Russian language, culture, history, literature and film.

Iudin-Nelson holds 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 2,005, 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: