Massenkoff Russian Folk Festival
Nikolai Massenkoff, Russian Folk Festival troupe leader. Photo by Tim Ruland.
Dancer from the Massenkoff Russian Folk Festival. Photo by Tim Ruland.
Pinedale Fine Arts Council presentation
October 28, 2006
The Pinedale Fine Arts Council presented Nikolai Massenkoff’s Russian Folk Festival on Friday, October 27, in the Pinedale Auditorium, performing to a packed house.
Massenkoff brings a century of traditional Russian music and folk ballet with songs from Tsarist Russia as well as contemporary Russia.
Born in northern China on the eve of World War II to a Russian mother and a Russian-Mongolian father, Massenkoff was sent to a Russian Orthodox orphanage in Shanghai when he was just three years old. It was in this orphanage that Massenkoff’s musical training began with ancient religious chants.
Music remained an integral part of Massenkoff’s life when the orphanage moved from China to the Philippines and, finally, to San Francisco.
After high school and a stint as the orphanages choir director, Massenkoff continued his pursuit of music earning a bacherlor’s degree in music, drama and speech from San Francisco State University.
His subsequent music studies took him to Italy and Austria where he continued to develop his musical repertoire. In 1975, Massenkoff began putting together his Russian folk troupe, gathering singers, dancers and instrumentalists specializing in the balalaika (a Russian instrument similar to the guitar but with a triangular body and usually three strings.)
Since then, Massenkoff has recorded a number of albums and toured all over the world from Carnegie Hall to Seoul, Korea. He has also shared the stage with Jerry Lewis, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Liberace, Dinah Shore, Bob Hope, Julio Iglesias, Glen Campbell and Brooke Shields. He has performed in 35 states and seven countries.
Prior to the October 27 evening show, the Massenkoff Troupe performed for the Pinedale middle and elementary schools on Thursday, October 26, as well as for seniors and the community at Rendezvous Pointe on Friday, October 27. The community was invited to attend.
Photos by Tim Ruland, Pinedale Fine Arts Council