Russian group Otta Orchestra played a mind-bending mix of rock, classical and world music on their masterpiece “Royal Safari”, attracting 40 million views on YouTube across various uploads. The instrumental group is backed by a full symphony orchestra but mixes it with a rock band and traditional folk instruments in the performance, creating a totally unique mix.
Highlights of the performance include a groovy five-string bass solo at 3:32 and the eerie world music section at 2:14. The group also pays attention to aesthetics, with some great outfits and looks, such as frontwoman Olga Khomich rocking out on electric guitar while wearing a full formal gown.
On their official website, Otta Orchestra is described as “a unique, unparalleled, women’s concert show in the genre of contemporary instrumental music.” The group was founded by composer, arranger and conductor Li Otta, who can be seen playing piano in a white tailcoat during the performance.
The core members of the seven-piece band, who can be seen in the center of the stage, are all female. They are supported by an enormous orchestra in the performance, which boasts a full complement of stringed and brass instruments. “Royal Safari” isn’t the only viral song the group has enjoyed. You can see them perform “Greek” in the video below, which mixes dance music with traditional folk and classical music.
Across the two performances, you can really see the huge versatility of the band members. The guitarist Khomich switches over to sitar in the second clip and plays the traditional Indian instrument with aplomb. The other members also swap instruments, with violinist Oksana Ponomareva switching over to vocals in the second performance, while bandleader Li Otta jumps off the piano to conduct.
The group is supported by the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Samara State Philharmonic Society in both videos, which is one of the leading orchestras in the country. Otta Orchestra has kept up a busy recording schedule in recent years, releasing a series of studio albums and singles that span a dizzying range of genres.
Otta Orchestra’s most recent album is Meeting Place, which is a ten-song release that dropped last year. The band released both “Royal Safari” and “Greece” as non-album singles, with the former being the band’s biggest hit on both YouTube and Spotify.
The group has performed at prestigious events in Russia and Asia, displaying their prowess on a range of instruments including piano, violin, keyboards, drums, percussion, guitar, accordion, Belarusian cymbals, Indian sitar and Chinese hulusi. Such virtuosity is no surprise as the group consists of graduates from music universities.
Otta Orchestra is picking up some dedicated fans with their unique sound, with viewers on the “Safari” performance commenting praise such as “This music is the most beautiful and the best!” and “these guys are amazing!” Fans also singled out bassist Ekaterina Menz for her impressive groove and style during her funky bass solo in the song.