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
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.
Mikhail Smirnov was born in Moscow, Russia. Mikhail is an artistic director and founder of ensemble Barynya, 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.