MUSICAL DIRECTOR

Victor Serghie

Victor was born in in the city of Harbin, Manchuria, to Russian/Romanian parents. He began studying violin at the age of six attending the Harbin Institute of Music. 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 he decided to take up the saxophone and became an accomplished performer of both instruments in various clubs and restaurants throughout Sydney.

In 1967 Victor Serghie first discovered Russian folk music after being invited to conduct a string ensemble and choir for a Russian concert. Over the years he became more and more interested in this type of music and instruments and is self-taught in the art of playing domra. He soon formed a small folk ensemble and from these beginnings, enlarged and consolidated the group into the present day orchestra of 30 musicians (2017).

PRESIDENT

BRUCE BARKER

Bruce was born in Sydney, Australia where his ancestors arrived from Sweden in 1840.
He commenced his formal musical training at age aged 20 when he studied classical piano for two years although in prior years he played piano and guitar with many groups and sang at venues around Sydney.
His appreciation of music deepened when he joined a madrigal group and revelled in singing the 6 and 8 part harmonies of French, Italian and English madrigals. Around the same period he also became a reluctant choir master which taught him this position, whilst challenging was more about managing people than making music.
It was fortunate therefore that around 1980 he was invited to join a small Russian folk group who played at the Russian club, Strathfield. The leader was Victor Serghie, the orchestras current Musical Director, who pointed to a lonely contrabass balalaika and said, “Have a go at that “.
And so started a 36 year association that has lasted until the present day. He admits he still hasn’t mastered the contrabass balalaika which he calls a “brute” to play but which he would never give up. He has watched the orchestra grow and mature over time and is both proud and gratefull for the opportunity to be part of many performance tours of Russia, China and New Zealand.
As president of the orchestra he believes recruiting of new members and seeking new performance venues both local and overseas are core priorities . Equally important is to support and enliven the aims of the orchestra by developing and maintaining a mature and professional business infrastructure. He strongly believes that to achieve excelence, an ethos of professionalism needs to permeate all levels of the orchestra in its musical, commercial dealings and social activities. .

Image of Bruce here

ORCHESTRA

Back in 1980 the nucleus of this 'orchestra' was four musicians led by Victor Serghie ,all with a mutual passion to play Russian folk music. Encouraged over time by enthusiastic new players and audience response, particularly from Australians, the group was formally Incorporated in 1990 as a not for profit Association and has since been growing in membership and setting increasingly ambitious goals in performance standards, repertoire and reaching out to larger and more distance audiences. They are fortunate in having among their current 28 members many gifted and dedicated players and singers. The orchestra continues to be led by by their Musical Director, Victor Serghie who is also the principal arranger.
Victor is a gifted and inspirational musician, originally a violinist and saxophonist who constantly seeks to raise the standard of musicianship. His authentic arrangements of the Russian folk genre, scored for original instruments, are exciting and challenging to play. 

The instruments which are typical of a Russian folk orchestra are the Domra family (prima, tenor, alto and bass), Balalaika (bass and contra bass), Bayan (a button accordion), accordion, cimbalom which is a stringed instrument from the dulcimer family, flute, clarinet and piccolo as well as guitars and percussion (glockenspiel, auto harp, etc).


Since 2005 the orchestra has by invitation of the Russian government, twice toured Far East Russia, Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as New Zealand and China twice. The most recent tour was to Siberia and far East Rusia in 2016. With no grant monies available from State or Federal agencies in Australia, all of the tours have been funded from the orchestras own financial resources and member contributions.


The orchestra has also produced five CDs the most recent recorded at Sydney's Studio301 which is huge favourite with our audiences.
They see 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 Russian press describes the orchestra as ‘the best Russian Folk orchestra outside Russia’. This accolade coming from the home of Russian folk music encourages the members to innovate and improve on the high professional standard the orchestra has already achieved.