Roots of Romanticism


The American Balalaika Symphony’s “Roots of Romanticism” Concert Hits Right Notes

The Northern Virginia’s Community College’s Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall recently welcomed the American Balalaika Symphony in a concert titled, “Roots of Romanticism: Musical Masters of the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries.” The performance took place January 9 under the direction of conductor and artistic director Peter Trofimenko.

Comprised of more than 50 musicians from the Washington D.C. area, the American Balalaika Symphony (ABS)  is a resident orchestra of the concert hall. The Balalaika Symphony provides classical music lovers with a variety of music by both Russian and American composers, including beloved classical standards, rare masterpieces, and traditional Russian folk music — often with virtuoso performers from across the globe.

ABS Executive Director and musician Terri Lukach says that ABS offers a singular musical experience: “The American Balalaika Symphony performs music seldom heard anywhere else — from little-known Russian melodies to rare symphonic masterpieces to original arrangements of classical favorites—casting the music in a unique and exciting light.”

Ms. Lukach points to the last concert as an example of ABS’s original programming:

“Our January program, ‘Roots of Romanticism: Musical Masters of the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries,’ focused on European classical music from the transitional period that heralded the beginnings of the Romantic Age.” She described the period as “ … an exciting era, which included composers like Beethoven, Hummel and Schubert, and marked the flowering of French opera and ballet, with composers like Adam, Delibes, and Gounod.”

She added that even the poet Shelley, one of the most famous early romantics, wrote about the time’s growing artistic freedom “Sounds overflow the listener’s brain; so sweet, that joy is almost pain.”


The concert attracted a near-sellout capacity of fans who warmly embraced the music as well as the entertaining—and informative—historical background of each piece offered by the Symphony’s Maestro, Peter Trofimenko. As one audience member noted, “We not only enjoy great music, we learn about great music.”

The ABS has a faithful following of fans in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Lukach says that the orchestra typically contacts regular concertgoers by postcard and email, and that they “advertise” on social media.

Ms. Lukach states that this last event was a great success.  “The audience was extremely pleased with the selection of pieces, our 1,000-seat concert hall was full, and the audience was very enthusiastic — even about pieces I’m sure they’ve never heard before.”

Highlights of the event included a Schubert’s Overture to Albrecht’s comedy Der Teufel als Hydraulicus (The Devil as Hydraulic Engineer), written when Schubert was about 14 years of age; Beethoven’s Für  Elise, arranged by Maestro Peter Trofimenko with a surprising jazz twist at the end; and Urbach’s compendium of excerpts from the music of French composer Adolphe Adam, who wrote more than 14 ballets, including the well-loved Giselle, and composed Cantique d’Noel, better known as “O Holy Night.” Other highlights included solos by some of ABS’s young musicians— Anna Nizhegonodtseva on piano, Victor Young on percussion, and Lucas Makinen on trumpet.

You can learn more about The American Balalaika Symphony by visiting their website at

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