The San Francisco Balalaika Ensemble keeps the traditions alive for Traditional Russian Folk, Gypsy & Classical Music. Founded in May of 2000, the group has performed at Davies Symphony Hall,
wineries, private functions, and even at the Russian Embassy in Washington DC with the BDAA (Balalaika & Domra Association of America). The core instruments include an assortment of balalaikas & domras, from prima to contrabass plus bayan (traditional Russian chromatic button accordion).
Clark Welsh, founder and musical director of the group is a native of Marin County, California has been amazing audiences for years with his seemingly inexhaustible supply of exotic instruments. He plays balalaika, domra, bouzouki, tambura, sax, guitar, cobza, tamburitsa, tambura, oud, bass, and numerous flutes and reeds from Eastern Europe and the near east. Clark has played with Nikolai Massenkoff, Danubius, Hatsegana, Aywah, Troika balalaikas, Neva, Khadra; the San Francisco Pops, Palm Beach Florida, Edmonton Alberta, and Oakland Symphony orchestras, as well as and other groups too numerous to mention. Clark has performed in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Korea, Russia, Hungary, and Slovakia.
Mikel Estrin, is a founding member of the San Francisco Balalaika Ensemble, and their Webmaster. He covers bass domra and bass balalaika and part time arranger: was born on a small island called
Manhattan, studied music composition and ethnomusicology in NY and Paris, and performs on a wide variety of classical and folk instruments. He studied piano, flute, clarinet, saxophone and oboe. Mikel has toured the US and Europe extensively, and performed on stage, screen, radio and concert venues with such well known artists as Melina Mercouri, Georges Guetari, Steve Lacy, Graham Allright,
the Merriweather Consort, OPA Band, the Hellenicks, Theatracide & Elvis Platiné among others.
Nada Lewis, founding member, is originally from Stockton, CA, & is a founding member of the Silver String Macedonian Band—the first revivalist Balalaika ensemble in California. Nada sings Russian Roma songs, plays alto and cello-bass balalaika and tambourine in the group. Nada was a member of Troika Balalaikas, and a member of the original Klezmorim, Balkan Pacific, founding member of Hatsegana, and currently is accordionist with PANACEA, an East European Folk Ensemble.
At one time, she was Music Director of Khadra International Folk Ballet of San Francisco, and now freelances as an accordionist playing many styles of music.
"Grisha" Krumik is bayan virtuoso from Khmelnitski, Ukraine. Mr Krumik
studied bayan and piano there, played with the ensemble Pesny I Platz
in Ukraine, and came to SF about 8-9 years ago when he started playing
with Clark and they have been playing together ever since.