Balalajka Artist 

Natalya Ivanova


Natalya Ivanova was born in 1984 in Murmansk in nothern Russia. Started playing balalaika at age of 6 and went to music school under the leadership of Natalia Tkachenko. After 8 years of study at music school she makes admission tests to Murmansk´s College of Arts with excellent results and been accepted there. During four years of study with a famous russian balalaika artist and teacher Viktor Bednjak she successfully developed her skills as a performer. After that she was accepted in Academy of Music named after A. Glazunov what is in Petrozavodsk (Karelia), where under leadership of the wonderful musician, teacher and artist Andrej Belorukov she studied 5 years and in 2008 graduated as a concert performer, endemble performer, orchestral performer and teacher on string instruments. During all these years Natalya has participated at several concerts, folk music festivals, folk musik competitions. Among other things, the International Russian Folk Music Festival in 2000 and 2002 in Petrozavodsk, Russia, where she received II and III locations. Interest in the balalaika and russian folk music came when she started playing the balalaika and developed during the years. This small instrument is nearly everything to her and has changed her life completely.

During all these years, Natalya played with different instruments and in different contexts: in duett with piano, guitar, accordion, flute and so on. Performed as a soloist with the folk instrument orchestra. She was in quite a long time (2000-2005) member in a russian folk instrument band "Grotesque" which included five members, who played russian folk music.


After moving to Sweden in 2005, she has played som concerts in Kiruna, including a variety of concerts with the pianist Birgitta Thoreman; been involved in the musical "Chess" in collaboration with the Art`s department at Hjalmar Lundbohms College; played in Vittangi church together with "Everyone can sing" choir; participated in Cultural Gala at Kiruna City Hall; played with freelance pianist Anastasia Barabanova from St.-Petersburg.

At the right moment Natalya has a programm together with a pianist Nigar Charkazova and also duo "Strings of soul" and trio "Melody of soul", which include wonderful musicians Ekaterina Vasilyeva and Kristina Platonova.


In 2011, Natalya has been accepted for the Master´s program in musical perfomance at Music High Scholl in Piteå with balalaika as a main instrument (the first in Sweden!). She studied under the direction of Alexander Paperny who lives in Hamburg.


Repertoire for the balalaika is so extensivethat for some, it is actually inconceivable that you can play classical, Latin, jazz, folk and modern music on balalaika, what is pretty simple 3-strings instrument. So thanks to the many russian composers who wrote music for balalaika and made a lot of arrangements to many famous pieces, you can play all kinds of music (Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Ramo, Scarlatti, Paganini, Stravinsky, Schostakovich, etc.), but russian folk music is of course leader and is almost a must for anyone who plays balalaika.


Balalaika is a russian stringed instrument with a triangular resonant body and three strings, two of them are tuned to the same pitch. The most common tuning is e-e-a where a metal stringis tuned in a, while two nylon strings of the same size are tuned in e. The most common is balalaika prima where you play with the right index finger while the larger balalaika´s frequently played with plectrum. Balalaika has a long neck with ribbon and cme in several different sizes. Most common are prima, second-, alto, bass and contrabass balalaika. Balalaika was first mentioned in literature 1715. Balalaika at this time was owned by lackeys, coachmen and lower officials, in the meaning that it was too simple instrument and that was a little too easy for aristocrats to deal with. However, at 1880-s great and talented musician and composer with a name Vasily Andreyev took balalaika under his wing. He restored and modernized instruments and built several sizes in equality with violin family as a model. After it he set the instruments in the orchestra and the modern classic russian folk orchestra was born. In Sweden balalaika is most famous by "Södra Bergens Balalajkor" and "Kazbek" from Stockholm. In the late 70´s there were a dozen balalaika orchestras in defferent locations in Sweden. Right now there are around four Balalaika orchestras in Sweden.