The founding of Quartet Skaz in 1973 by Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, domrist, vocalist, and Artistic Director Valentina Soboleva-Belinskaya was a new step in Russian folk-music performance. The first instrumental Russian folk chamber ensemble, the Quartet gave domras and balalaikas, then mostly played alone or as accompaniment to dance or vocals, a new setting of great artistic potential. What’s more, the Quartet pioneered a unique and richly expressive sound by supplementing traditional Russian playing techniques with those of the guitar and the banjo.
Since its inception, Quartet Skaz has been a leading exponent of Russian folk music both at home and abroad. But Skaz’s artistry is not limited to one genre. The Quartet’s wide repertoire also includes classical favorites, original compositions, settings of international folk melodies, popular love songs, and even ragtime.
Skaz is a laureate of the First Moscow Competition for Performing Artists, and a recipient of the Lenin Komsomol Prize for “great mastery in performance and promotion of folk-music creativity among the youth.” Skaz has been honored with Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz and Alexander Pushkin Award and received awards in Armenia, Mongolia, Nepal, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, the United States, and Venezuela.
Touring widely across Russia, Skaz has performed on her most prestigious stages, including the Bolshoy Theatre, the Moscow International House of Music, the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and the Grand and Patriarchal Palaces and the Armory of the Moscow Kremlin. The Quartet has performed for several heads of state, and for audiences in South Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Sri Lanka, India, Turkey, Finland, Romania, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, France, Luxemburg, Monaco, Switzerland, South Africa, Namibia, Brazil, and the United States.
In addition to many appearances on radio and television, Skaz has seven LP’s and two CD’s to its credit, among them Balastroika (1994) and Skaz (2009). The Quartet has performed for the soundtracks of the films The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Travels with Father (1996), Catherine the Great (1996), and Vermelho Russo (2016).
Joining Ms. Soboleva-Belinskaya, is Ensemble Director Dmitry Belinskiy, also an Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, and president of the Russian Folk Musicians Club, on the balalaika. On the alto domra and the bass balalaika, the Quartet boasts international competition laureates Andrey Tarasov and Anatoly Prokhorov.