Conductor & Artistic Director
Peter Trofimenko is the founder, artistic director, and conductor of the American Balalaika Symphony (ABS), one of only seven orchestras of its kind in the United States.
Located within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, ABS has become an intrinsic part of the cultural life of the nation’s capital, delighting audiences of all ages with distinctive performances that bring new perspectives to symphonic music.
Indeed, since its inception in 2001, the American Balalaika Symphony has fulfilled Trofimenko’s vision of a truly unique American orchestra that blends the rich traditions of the Russian Music School with the best of European and American music. Each concert season, ABS presents a stunning range of music — from beloved Russian melodies to classical favorites to rarely heard symphonic masterpieces — all masterfully arranged for the balalaika orchestra by Dr. Trofimenko.
“We are committed to developing music with new and appealing contemporary dimensions,” says Trofimenko. “Not ‘modernistic,’ but rather a lush and warm sound.”
In 2007, the American Balalaika Symphony took the Grand Prize in the International Music Golden Trophy Competition, held in New York City, and the Grand Prix prize at the 5th annual international competition, “Musical Vladivostok 2007,” held in Vladivostok, Russia under the auspices of Russia’s Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency. In May 2008, Trofimenko was personally honored by the prestigious Russian Academy of Music, which has now established a working relationship with the American Balalaika Symphony.
In addition to founding and directing the American Balalaika Symphony, Trofimenko spends a portion of each year teaching and conducting in Ukraine, Russia, and other countries around the world. Dr. Trofimenko was classically trained in Kiev in balalaika performance, conducting, arrangement and composition, studying with such great musicians as Yuri Aleksik of the Tchaikovsky Kiev State Conservatory of Music, Dmitry Kazachkov of the Kiev Cultural Academy and the Orchestra of the International Center for the Arts in Kiev, and Victoria Vassilieva of the Glier Music College.
Peter Trofimenko came to the United States with his family in 1993.
Andrei Gorbachev is considered one of the foremost virtuosos on the balalaika today.
Born in Voronezh, Russia, Gorbachev began studying the balalaika at age five. In 1988, after completing his early musical training, where he worked with I.V. Inshakov, Gorbachev enrolled in the prestigious Gnessin Russian Academy of Music in Moscow, where he completed graduate and post-graduate studies the guidance of Professor P.I. Necheporenko.
The winner of several prestigious music competitions, Gorbachev has toured extensively, introducing the balalaika to audiences all over the world. Among his many high-profile performances is a concert before Queen Elizabeth II in 1992.
In addition to maintaining a highly successful concert career, Andrei Gorbachev chairs the balalaika department of the Gnessin Academy of music and is also a professor of balalaika performance at the Rachmaninov Tambov State Academy of Music. Founded in 1882 by the Imperial Russian Music Society, it is one of Russiaâ�™s oldest musical conservatories.
Since ABSâ�™s founding in 2001, Andrei Gorbachev has performed several times with The American Balalaika Symphony, to the immense pleasure of audiences from all over the greater Washington, D.C. metro area.
Sergei Lukin is acclaimed worldwide as one of the leading domra soloists performing today. He is the principal soloist and concertmaster of the legendary Osipov Balalaika Orchestra of Moscow and has received his nation’s highest artistic title — “National Artist of Russia.”
Born born in Voronezh, Russia, Lukin began playing the domra at the age of seven. After first studying under Valentina Narolina and Vasili Zubchenko, he completed his musical education at Moscow’s prestigious Gnessin Institute under the tutelage of Vyacheslav Kruglov. He joined the Osipov Balalaika Orchestra in 1980.
Mr. Lukin has performed in New York’s Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and other famous venues in France, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Italy, and Japan, where he has often been the featured soloist in world premieres of works by leading contemporary composers.
Sergei Lukin is also a professor of domra performance at Moscow’s Schnittke Academy of Music. As a composer, he has made substantial contributions to the repertoire for his instrument, and his seminars and master classes are eagerly attended by domra enthusiasts around the world.
Vyacheslav Kruglov, is a virtuoso performer on both the domra and the mandolin. In addition to performing and conducting in Russia and around the world, Kruglov is a professor in the Department of Folk Instruments at the prestigious Gnessin Russian Music Academy in Moscow, and has taught numerous master classes throughout Russia.
A winner of the First All-Russian Competition for Students of Musical Higher Educational Institutions of the Russian Federation (Novosibirsk, 1968), the First All-Russian Competition for Performers on Folk Instruments (Moscow, 1972), the All-Union Competition (Voronezh), and an international competition in Peru in 1984, Kruglov has also been awarded the Order of Friendship, the Order for the Service of Russia, and holds the title, People’s Artist of Russia.
In Russia, Kruglov has revived appreciation of the mandolin, which was once a very popular instrument in Russian everyday life, but subsequently became nearly forgotten. In 1990, Kruglov created the Moscow-based quartet “Mandolina” which acquired great fame in Russia and abroad. As a soloist on the mandolin, he acquaints his listeners with original compositions for the instrument by Vivaldi, Hummel, Beethoven, Giuliani, Calaci and others.
Born in 1945, Kruglov completed studies at the Kirov Music College in 1964 as a student on the domra under A. A. Linkov. In 1970, he graduated from the Leningrad State Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, and in 1973 he completed the Leningrad Conservatory’s post-graduate program as a student of I. I. Schittenkov and a conducting student of Yu. P. Serebryakov.
Currently, Kruglov is artistic director of the “New Names of Moscow” and the “Moscow Mandolin” Ensembles; director of the Musical Sector of the Moscow Foundation for the Preservation of Culture of the Moscow Mayor’s Office, and Vice President of the “Atlantis” Foundation. He is one of the founders of the Russian School of Academic Performance on the domra and the mandolin.
Kruglov is also one of the main creators of the contemporary methodical school of performance on the domra, writing and publishing two large textbooks, “The Art of Playing on the Domra” (2001) and “The School for Performance on the Domra” (2003). He is also the author of the textbook “The Performance of Melismatics on the Domra,” a program for teaching domra as a specialized solo instrument and in ensemble in higher educational institutions.
Students of Vyacheslav Kruglov include many famous performers and winners of prestigious competitions, various People’s Artists of the Russian Federation, and as teachers and activists of the arts, including S. Lukin, M. Gorobtsov, Director of the Department of Culture of Nizhni Novgorod, S. Gorin, Director of the Regional Methodic Cabinet in Kirov, T. Manylov, and many others.
Vyacheslav Kruglov frequently performs with the American Balalaika Symphony and often brings his students from the Gnessin Academy to perform with ABS.
Moscow-born Natalia Bogdanova is one of the most celebrated young pianists gracing the contemporary Russian concert scene. She is a soloist with the Moscow Concert Organization and has toured extensively throughout Russia and Western Europe, performing in both solo recitals and with established orchestras.
Ms. Bogdanova comes from a highly musical family and was accepted at an early age for attendance at the special preparatory school for musically-gifted children established by Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory.
After graduation, she entered the Tchaikovsky Conservatory itself and pursued her studies there through the doctoral level as a pupil of the revered Russian pianist, Tatiana Nikolayeva. Ms. Bogdanova is particularly renowned for her interpretations of the 19th-century romantic composers such as Schumann and Chopin.
In her active career, she has already appeared as a featured soloist with Russian orchestras in Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Kazan, Petrozavodsk, and Branaul; with the Ismir Symphony in Turkey; and with the Epinal Radio Orchestra in France.
Hailed by the Fanfare magazine for her “imaginative and colorful interpretive approach,” Katerina Zaitseva has performed in the United States, Germany, Luxemburg, France, South Korea, Japan, and Russia including appearances in the Moscow State Conservatory Hall (Moscow, Russia), John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington D.C.), Steinway Hall (Dallas, Texas), and at many European festivals. Ms. Zaitseva was also privileged to play for the King of Spain, Juan Carlos, at the opening of the Meadows Museum of Arts in Dallas. Ms. Zaitseva has been featured as soloist with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, Dallas Chamber Orchestra, Meadows Symphony Orchestra, Corvallis Symphony, Lewisville Lake Symphony, Northeast Arkansas Symphony, and Rapides Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Zaitseva’s recording of Glazunov’s Concerto No. 2 with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, released by Classical Records in 2007, has garnered international critical acclaim. American Record Guide critic wrote: “Katerina Zaitseva’s playing no doubt captures the vitality and excitement one would have heard from Glazunov’s daughter Elena, who was often the soloist in early performances of this work … This recording is a welcome addition to anyone’s listening library.” Katerina’s latest CD, Trios by Beethoven, Kuhlau and Donizetti with flutist Dennette McDermott and bassoonist Douglas Bakenhus, will be released in Moscow on Classical Records in the summer 2009.
In addition to solo recitals, Katerina Zaitseva performs extensively in piano duo with Nikita Fitenko. Hailed by critics for their “superlative sound, superlative interpretation, and superlative pianism…”, the duo has performed worldwide. Their most recent appearances include the Piano Duo Series (Tokyo, Japan), Nancyphonies Music Festival (Nancy, France), Berkeley University (California, USA), as well as at Seocho District Hall and Yonsei University (South Korea). Their critically acclaimed CD, featuring works for piano four hands by Schumann and Brahms, was released in 2005.
Prior to settling in the Washington D.C. area, Katerina Zaitseva was a full time piano faculty member and Artist in Residence at Louisiana College. She also presented master classes at Han Yang University (Seoul, Korea) and Showa University (Tokyo, Japan). In addition to teaching, she is the Executive Director of the Washington International Piano Festival and Associate Executive Director of the Louisiana International Piano Competition.
Ms. Zaitseva is a winner of several competitions and awards including the MTNA Competition, SMU Concerto Competition, Von Mickwitz Prize in Piano, as well as Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award among others. She holds a Master of Music degree from the Southern Methodist University, a Bachelor of Music degree magna cum laude from the University of North Texas, and a Diploma from the Music School affiliated with the Moscow State Conservatory in Russia. Her principal teachers include Joaquín Achúcarro, Pamela Mia Paul, and Marina Prozorova.
Internationally acclaimed pianist and Yamaha Artist Nikita Fitenko has performed solo recitals and with orchestras in the former Soviet Union, and throughout Europe, Asia, and South and North America. He has appeared as a soloist with such orchestras as St. Petersburg Capella Symphony,Russian Chamber Philharmonic, Russian Philharmonic Orchestra of Moscow, St. Petersburg State Conservatory Orchestra, State Hermitage Orchestra, Slovak National Philharmonic, Lewisville Symphony, Rapides Symphony, Northeast Texas Symphony, and Northwestern Symphony Orchestra. In addition to concerts in the United States, future engagements this year will take him to Sweden, Germany, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia.
While performing a wide and diverse repertoire, Nikita Fitenko is an acknowledged master of Russian piano music. He has recorded three CDs of works by leading contemporary Russian composers for Altarus Records. His initial recording of solo piano works by Georgy Sviridov (1997), and his two-CD set of music by Sergei Slonimsky (2000), have garnered rave reviews from the international music press.
Fanfare Music Review wrote, “Fitenko plays magnificently!” Slonimsky himself described Fitenko’s interpretation of his piano music as “outstanding, vivid, imaginative, virtuosic, fascinating, and pianistically brilliant.” Dr. Fitenko’s latest recording, Scriabin’s Piano Concerto with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra of Moscow, was released on the Classical Records label in December 2007.
A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Nikita Fitenko graduated from the St. Petersburg State Conservatory with a citation for excellence awarded to only five other graduates in the last 50 years. After receiving the Anton Rubinstein Memorial Award he came to the United States to study, pursuing his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of North Texas. Fitenko’s principal teachers included Roman Lebedev, Igor Lebedev, and Joseph Banowetz.
Nikita Fitenko is the winner of several competitions including the Belarusian International Piano Competition (Minsk, Belarus), the Beethoven Piano Competition (Memphis, TN), and the Houston Symphony National Young Artist Competition (Houston, TX) among others.
Dr. Fitenko has been invited to serve on many international piano competition juries including the 2003 World International Piano Competition in Cincinnati, OH; the 2008 Rachmaninov International Piano Competition in Moscow, Russia; the 2008 Nordic International Piano Competition in Malmo, Sweden; and the 2009 American Pianists Association’s Classical Fellowship Awards in Indianapolis, IN.
Currently, Dr. Fitenko is Associate Professor of Piano at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Prior to that position, he was Associate Professor and Coordinator of Keyboard Area at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.
Elena Ulyanova-Caldine, who began her study of piano at the age of five in Saki, Ukraine, is a graduate of the prestigious Gnessin College of Music in Moscow, where she was awarded a full four year scholarship after winning the Gnessin piano competition.
She is also a winner of the Gnessin’s coveted Mamontov Fund Scholarship, under which she studied for another four years with Alexander Alexandrov, famous for his for his interpretations of Mozart and Beethoven, as well as his skill as a teacher.
Upon graduation from Gnessin, Elena was offered a scholarship to the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where she promptly won a prize in the second Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition.
After receiving a Master of Music degree from the Moscow Conservatory, Elena pursued her postgraduate study with Victor Merzhanov, while performing at various venues. She also took master classes with Emanual Krasovsky, Victor Derevianko, Jerome Rose, and Leslie Howard.
Elena immigrated to the United States from Ukraine in May 2004, settling in the Washington, D.C. area. In 2005, in co-operation with the Rachmaninoff Society, she studied with Howard Shelley—famous for recording all of Rachmaninoff’s works—in preparation for her recording of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The Rhapsody and Piano Concerto No. 2 are featured on her new CD with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra and released by Bel Air Music in July, 2006.
Elena has performed numerous orchestra, chamber, and solo concerts throughout Russia, Ukraine, Austria, Korea, the Netherlands, China, Poland, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, and Romania. Her performances with orchestras include the Vienna Musikverein Orchestra conducted by Martin Turnovsky, the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra with Alexander Vedernikov, the Crimea State Symphony Orchestra in Yalta, State Russian Orchestra “Boyan” with Anatoly Poletayev, and theOmsk Philharmonic with Evgenyi Shestakov.
In 2001, Elena masterfully performed the Rachmaninoff second concerto with the Rachmaninoff White Lilacs Festival orchestra on only four hours notice! In the United States, she has performed in Washington D.C., Florida, and the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Tatiana Khaninova was born in the Poltava district of the Ukraine and selected at an early age to attend the Central Music School, which was maintained by Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory as a preparatory school for musically-gifted children. Later, she studied piano at the Gnessin Academy, where her teachers included Liliana Khovan and renowned Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich.
After receiving her doctorate at the Gnessin school, Ms. Khaninova embarked on an international concert career that has included both solo recitals and performances with orchestra in Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, Japan, and the United States.
Since 1993, she and Andrei Gorbachev have teamed regularly as a balalaika-piano duo that has won both wide recognition and many musical awards.
Elena Rector, Concertmaster
Carmela Del Vecchio
Allyn Van Patten