Faculty News

Piano Teacher Shares Love for Balalaika Orchestra

While our Academy community primarily knows Radina Dosseva as a piano teaching artist, she is also a folk music player and performs regularly with the Washington Balalaika Society Orchestra.

A balalaika orchestra is a Russian music ensemble which performs folk music and classical repertoires with traditional Russian instruments such as balalaikas, domras, bayans, and other folk percussion and winds instruments.

Dosseva first learned about the balalaika orchestra when the American Balalaika Symphony performed at her high school. She was quickly attracted by the music and a particular string instrument—prima domra, a rounded, three-string Russian folk instrument, which she started learning to play after being recruited by a member of the American Balalaika Symphony.

“I grow up surrounded by enchanting folk melodies in Bulgaria,” said Dosseva. “It is hard not to feel nostalgic because all the music we play is very close to my heart. I even grew up listening to some of the pieces we perform, so I’m often reminded of some of the happiest moments of my childhood when I perform with this orchestra.”



Dosseva had many happy years with her balalaika orchestra until it disbanded in 2018, a sad loss both of the opportunity to perform such special music and the comradery with her fellow musicians. She began the search for a new orchestra and found the Washington Balalaika Society, the largest volunteer-based orchestra of Russian folk instruments in North America. She joined instantly.

As she reflects on her involvement in the balalaika orchestras, Dosseva says it has helped her grow as a musician and enriched her life both culturally. She says joining in a folk orchestra brings her joy and a different musical experience outside of her classical piano studies and teaching and has contributed to her understanding of many cultures. She would recommend any music student learning a secondary instrument and getting additional musical experiences.

“I fell in love with getting to interact with people of various ages, backgrounds, and experiences,” said Dosseva. “Learning a new instrument teaches me new concepts, techniques, and genres of music. Playing prima domra helps me to develop a different perspective and to be a better collaborative musician.”



Dosseva invites our Academy family to experience a Russian folk concert “From Baikal to Brazil,” performed by the Washington Balalaika Society Orchestra. The concert will mix well-known folk pieces with other classical repertories such as “Hora Staccato,” “Brazileira,” and “Baikal Tale.” The concert will be held on:

  • Saturday, November 23, at 8 p.m. at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre in Rockville, Maryland.
  • Sunday, November 24, at 3 p.m. at the Kenmore Performing Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia.

Tickets cost $25 for general admission; $20 for seniors; $15 for students; and free for children ages 12 and under. For tickets and directions, please visit the Washington Balalaika Society for details.