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Balalaika virtuoso Elina Karokhina was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), Russia. She 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 balalaika. Following her graduation, she began working as a musician, both as a teacher and as a performer. Elina served in the Russian Army as a soloist of the Northwest Order of Red Stars Military Ensemble. She has toured all over the world (Germany, Austria, Sweden, Danmark, Cyprus, Spain, France, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Finland, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, Mexico, St. Thomas, Bermuda, Indonesia, Bali) playing her balalaika that was made by famous musical instruments maker Galinis. 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 (New York). 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 "Orchestra Rocks" international event. In September 2016 he appeared at the Carnegie Hall again as a part of "Moscow Gypsy Army" ensemble 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. Recently Elina was invited to perform as a Honored Guest Artist for the Balalaika and Domra Association of America 40th Jubilee Convention that will be taking place in Philadelphia in July 2018. In 1994 Elina was one of the winners of international competition "Kubok Severa" of folk musicians in Cherepovets, Russia. In 1996 she won the First Place of Troyanovsky's Competition of musicians performing on traditional instruments in St. Petersburg (Russia). Elina was invited as a special guest for the Gloden Ring of Russia 1993 Balalaika and Domra Association of America convention. She shared the stage with Alexander Tsygankov, Valeriy Zazhigin and Mikhail Sheikhman for the concerts at the "Rossia" Concert Hall in Moscow and at the Saint Petersburg's State Capella.
About singer/garmoshka player MIKHAIL SMIRNOV
Mikhail Smirnov was born in Moscow, Russia. Mikhail is an artistic director and founder of ensemble Barynya based in New York City, 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. 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 folk song, dance and music company outside of Mother Russia.
Musicians, singers and dancers of ensemble Barynya are available for hire for Performing Art Centers, school assemblies, festivals, colleges, libraries, concert halls, restaurants, private and corporate events as one powerful ensemble or in smaller groups.
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