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Balalaika BOOKINGS
Nigel Austen
Balalaika is a five-piece group specialising in both Russian and Jewish music.

The group play on traditional acoustic instruments. The power of the music of Balalaika lies, to some extent, in its direct appeal to the emotions. Fiery, energetic tunes played in overdrive juxtaposed with smouldering gypsy romances.
Website www.balalaikalondon.co.uk
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Phone 0208 659 3539 Ask for: Nigel
0781 392 3154

Infectious toe-tapping music which brings audiences to the dance floor, interspersed with the vigour and wild panache of Klezmer at its best. Among our regular pieces are Russian, Ukrainian, and Eastern European folk tunes, tangos, Gypsy dances, Gopaks, Klezmer foot-tappers, waltzes and horas.

In the wave of emigration following the Second World War, a number of talented Russian musicians settled in Britain. One such was Siberian-born George Orlov, who as an accomplished Russian dancer, singer and balalaika player, channelled his passion for the music of his homeland into the creation of a troupe of British-based dancers and musicians named ‘Troika’, as well as a successful and well-toured group of school children from Bracknell, who produced a number of LPs.

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The current Balalaika represent the most dynamic combination of musicians that has performed under this name, embracing new arrangements and new directions whilst still retaining the serdtze (heart) of its origins.

Justin Bateman - Balalaika, Mandolin

As one of the few exponents of the Balalaika living outside the Slavic-speaking world, Justin was a founder member of the band, has played in various settings from the Isle of Skye to the Harz Mountains in Germany, and has appeared in the West End and on television as a balalaika player.
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Nigel Austen - Bayan

An accomplished pianist, Nigel subsequently moved to the Accordion before concentrating on the Russian Bayan, which he studied under the virtuoso recitalist, Nicholai Rischkoff. With a long background of playing in duos, bands and theatrical productions, Nigel is also a highly competent arranger.
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Adam Gaiman - Guitar

From a Jewish background, Adam has a growing interest in the music of old Russia and the Jewish music of eastern Europe. Performing earlier in a number of rock bands, he has moved away from the electric scene to focus on the intricacies of acoustic music. Adam has skills in the technologies of amplification and recording.
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Lucie Kirkby - Trumpet, Percussion

Lucie plays a prominent part in Balalaika particularly in the Jewish numbers through her espousal of the Klezmer trumpet. Within the Russian repertoire, as well as trumpet she contributes rhythmic colour through the use of snare, tambourine, and other hand-held percussion. Lucie has a family history strongly associated with Russian folk music, and works professionally within the music industry.
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Michael Prendergast - Bass Balalaika, Double Bass

Michael began playing folk music during the folk revival in the late sixties; he then moved onto jazz and through these two routes came to develop his interest in Eastern European Music and Klezmer. In addition to regular professional work, Michael has a keen interest in teaching and runs a variety of musical workshops.
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All photographs on this page by kind permission © John Clare Photography: http://www.johnclarephoto.co.uk