Balalaika virtuoso Elina Karokhina is number 1 balalaika player in the United States. She was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), Russia and began her formal training at the Mussorgsky Music College of St. Petersburg and continued her training at N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory, earning a degree as an Orchestra Soloist. She continued her training at the Conservatory, which included a brief residency in Germany. After, she returned to her native St. Petersburg and completed her education, earning a Doctor of Musical Art degree in the Balalaika. Following her graduation, she began working as a musician, both as a teacher and as a performer, teaching balalaika. Elina Karokhina served in the Russian Army in the Military Ensemble in the Northwest Order of Red Stars. As a balalaika soloist Elina has toured all over the world. When she moved to the United States in 2009 she was hired as a musicial director and soloist with the biggest professional Russian music, song and dance ensemble Barynya. In January 2015 Elina Karokhina was selected to perform the balalaika part with Mariinsky Theatre directed by famous Russian conductor Valery Gergiev in Rodion Shchedrin's opera The Enchanted Wanderer at the Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York. In May 2016 she was hired to play six concerts at the Carnegie Hall in New York City as a part of "The Orchestra Rocks" production. In September 2016 he appeared at the Carnegie Hall again as a part of Moscow Gypsy Army representing rich musical culture of Eastern Europian Roma people. In January 2017 Elina was hired to play Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh" Suite at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. with the National Symphony Orchestra. All four performances were under direction of world-famous conductor Sir Mark Elder. In 2018 Elina was invited to perform as a Honored Guest Artist at the Balalaika and Domra Association of America 40th Jubilee Convention in Philadelphia. In October 2019 Elina was invited to perform during Emirates-Russian Week at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
About Mikhail Smirnov (garmoshka, guitar, vocals)
Mikhail Smirnov was born in Moscow, Russia. Mikhail is an artistic director and founder of ensemble Barynya, New York Cossack Dancers, Bottle Dancers USA, author of many articles about traditional Russian dance, music and instruments in English and Russian. Mikhail received his Master's degree from the Moscow State University of Culture and Arts. As a child, he was a member of the famous "Moscow Boys Chorus" - one of the most prestigious all-male choirs in Russia. Before coming to the United States in 1991, Mikhail was a soloist in a several Russian folk dance and music groups including the Moscow State Center for Russian song, "Russkaya Pesnya", under the direction of Nadezhda Babkina. In January 2009 Mikhail Smirnov and dancers of ensemble Barynya were featured on national TV, NBC's "SUPERSTARS OF DANCE" - breathtaking international dance competition led by executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Simon Fuller (American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance). This prestigious dance competition hosted by Michael Flatley ("Lord of the Dance") and Susie Castillo, a former Miss USA. Mikhail Smirnov was one of eight judges to decide which country will win. The show premiered on NBC network. Ensemble Barynya is a world renowned group that enjoys exalting stature as the premier Russian folk ensemble outside of Russia. Under direction of Mr. Smirnov ensemble Barynya has become the most requested Russian dance, song and music show outside of Mother Russia.
July 16, 2022. Niagara Falls, ONTARIO L2G 3K7, Canada, Russian Adoption Reunion 2022
On Saturday, July 16th, 2022 musicians and dancers of ensemble Barynya - Mikhail Smirnov, Elina Karokhina, Alisa Egorova, Valentina Kvasova, Alexandr Rudoy - performed 30 minutes show for adoptees ages 8-21, and their families during Russian Adoption Reunion 2022 event that took place at the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel, 5875 Falls Ave, Niagara Falls, ONTARIO L2G 3K7, Canada. There were adoptees from Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan and China. Totasl guests count: 250. The program included "Korobushka", "Kalinka", "Valenkee" ("Woolen Boots"), "Mardzhandzha", "Hopak", "Dark Eyes", "The Moon Is Shining Brightly" and "Bottle Dance" based on the "Fiddler On The Roof".
01-01-2022. Празднование Нового 2022-ого года в ресторане Hot Potato House в Бруклине
В субботу вечером первого января 2022-ого года музыканты нью-йоркского ансамбля Barynya Элина Карохина и Михаил Смирнов поздравили с Новым 2022-ым годом сотрудников ресторана "Hot Potato House" в Бруклине. После того как из ресторана ушли последние посетители, сотрудники популярного бруклинского заведения Дом Горячей Картошки накрыли стол и сами наконец отметили наступление нового года. Михаил и Элина в этот вечер играли для посетителей, а в конце вечера решили поздравить дружную компанию поваров и официантов, нарядившись в костюмы Деда Мороза и Снегурочки. Для всех собравшивхся музыканты заранее приготовили подарки, которые "Дед Мороз" раздал в обмен на стишки, загадки и песенки сотрудников. Все взрослые с удовольствием приняли участие в импровизированном визите новогодних сказочных персонажей: отгадывали загадки, выбирали ответы в юмористической новогодней викторине, танцевали хоровод, пели новогоднюю песенку, читали Дедушке Морозу стихи и пели песни. Появление Деда Мороза и Снегурочки оказалось неожиданным, но приятным сюрпризом.
01-23-2020. Barynya Duo Performance with Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Gaillard Center, Charleston, South Carolina
On Thursday, January 23rd, 2020 two musicians of Russian dance and music ensemble Barynya balalaika virtuoso Elina Karokhina, and musician, singer, guitar, garmoshka player Mikhail Smirnov performed joined concert titled "FROM RUSSIANS WITH LOVE" with Charleston Symphony Orchestra led by Yuriy Bekker. Program of performance: Dmitri Shostakovich Festive Overture, Op. 96, Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky “ Polonaise ” from Eugene Onegin, Sergei Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, Modest Mussorgsky, (arr. Nikolai Rimsky - Korsakov) Night on Bald Mountain, Stravinsky's Firebird Infernal Dance Berceuse Finale, Aram Khachaturian's “Sabre Dance“ from Gayane, Nikolai Rimsky - Korsakov “Flight of the Bumble Bee” from Tale of Tsar Saltan, Russian Folk Song "Oche Chiornie" (Dark Eyes), arr. Carmen Dragon, Lionel Bart, arr. John Bachalis “ From Russia With Love “ from James Bond: From Russia With Love, Maurice Jarre, arr. Bill Holcombe “Laura’s Theme” from Dr. Zhivago, Russian Folk Song "Kalinka", Russian Folk Song "Kamarinskaiya", Russian Folk Song "Valenki", Russian Folk Song "Korobushka", Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky “Finale” from Symphony No . 4 in F minor, Op. 36. All instrumental numbers were performed by Elina and MIkhail on guitar, and the traditional Russian instruments balalaika and garmoshka. After the performance conductor Yuriy Bekker, tenor Edward Brennan, Mikhail and Elina stepped into the lobby of the beautuful Charleston Gaillard Center to sign concert posters and take photos with people who attended the performance. Exact address of the venue: 95 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29401.
December 2020. Virtual performance for schools in San Antonio, Texas
On Tuesday, December 1st, 2020 Elina Karokhina (balalaika) and Mikhail Smirnov (garmoshka, guitar, vocals) provided brief virtual performance for Musical Bridges Around the World Facebook Live for Giving Tuesday! Mission to support and bring multicultural performing and visual arts in San Antonio, Texas and beyond. Musicians performed two Russian winter songs and answered a few questions.