Victor was born to Russian/Romanian parents in the city of Harbin in Manchuria, China. He began studying violin at a young age, entering the Harbin Institute of Music at the age of six.
In 1956, his family migrated to Australia, where he continued taking private violin lessons. To further his violin education, he joined the Sydney Conservatorium in 1963. As an added interest, while still studying violin, he took up the saxophone and became an accomplished performer of both instruments in various clubs and restaurants throughout Sydney.
Victor’s close connection with Russian folk music began in 1967 when he was invited to conduct a string ensemble and choir for a Russian concert. Following this introduction he became more and more interested in this genre of music and folk instruments. He then taught himself the art of playing domra.
At the request of founding member Volodya Savitsky, Victor soon took over the lead of Volodya’s ensemble. From these beginnings, he enlarged and consolidated the group into the present-day orchestra of 28 musicians and two singers (2020).
Over many years the number of musicians in this group has fluctuated, and there was a period when the nucleus of the “orchestra” consisted of just six musicians led by Victor Serghie. Fortunately, all had a mutual passion to play Russian folk music. Encouraged over time by enthusiastic new players and audience responses – particularly from the Australian public – the group grew, and was formally incorporated in 1990 as a not-for-profit association. As it grew, it set increasingly ambitious goals for itself. The expanding orchestra aimed to consistently improve performance standards, as well as its repertoire, and to keep reaching out to larger and more distant audiences. The orchestra is fortunate to have many gifted and dedicated players and singers among its 28 current members. It continues to be led by the Musical Director, Victor Serghie, who is also the principal arranger for the orchestra.
Victor is a gifted and inspirational musician who constantly seeks to raise standards of musicianship. His authentic arrangements of Russian folk music, scored for orchestral instruments, are exciting and challenging to play.
The instruments include members of the quintessentially Russian domra family, of which the prima, alto, tenor and bass are played within the orchestra; the bass and contrabass members of the balalaika family; the bayan (a button accordion) and accordion; the cimbalom (a stringed instrument from the dulcimer family) and flute and clarinet, as well as guitars and percussion (glockenspiel, auto harp and more). See separate section on “Instruments” for a further introduction.
The orchestra has produced five CDs. The most recent, “Russian Tapestries”, was recorded at Sydney’s Studio301, and proved to be a huge favourite with our audiences. See separate section on “CDs”.
With no grant monies available from state or federal agencies in Australia, all tours have been funded from the orchestra’s own financial resources and member contributions.
The biggest challenges facing the orchestra today are finding ways to finance tours to reach a wider public, and to attract new and committed members.
It is encouraging that the press in Russia describes this orchestra as “the best Russian folk orchestra outside Russia”. This accolade, coming from the home of Russian folk music, inspires members to innovate and improve on the high professional standards the orchestra has already achieved.