New York Balalaika Duo is based in New York City. The Duo is available for weddings, private and corporate events, libraries, colleges, schools, assisted living facilities in NYC, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and other states. Both musicians - balalaika virtuoso Elina Karokhina and vocalist, garmoshka and guitar player Mikhail Smirnov are members of Russian dance and music ensemble Barynya.
The Duo is led by Elina Karokhina, top balalaika player and a musician of international renown. Few females have achieved such levels of greatness on the balalaika as Ms. Karokhina. Her speed, grace, and fluidity on the instrument must be seen and heard to believe. A native of St. Petersburg Russia, Ms. Karokhina took up the balalaika as a young teen, and quickly established herself as a rare talent upon the instrument. She began her formal training at the Mussorgsky College of St. Petersburg and continued her training at the Rimskii-Korsakov Conservatory, which included a residency in Germany. She returned to her native St. Petersburg, where she earned her Doctorate of Music/Balalaika. Ms. Karokhina served in the Russian military in the Military Ensemble in the Northwest Order of Red Stars. She also was the balalaika player for the Moscow Circus on several international tours. She has performed across Russia and in many countries including the United States. She also belonged to the Russian folk group “Izba Trio”, whose other members also toured with her with the Moscow Circus under the name “Smirnov’s Folk Orchestra". Over the years, she has also worked with numerous orchestras and artists and has a number of recording credits to her name. Ms. Karokhina was a regular on the many tourist ships in St. Petersburg during the summer, performing traditional Russian folk songs for tourists with her fellow musicians and giving them a taste of true Russian culture.
Elina Karokhina immigrated to the United States in October 2009 and currently resides in Union Beach, New Jersey. She is now the principal balalaika player and musical director for the Russian music/dance company 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 TRIUMPH OF HOPE" international event. 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. Mikhail Smirnov is a vocalist, garmoshka and guitar player.
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Performance with Washington Balalaika Orchestra, Washington D.C.
In the end of November 2021 balalaika virtuoso Elina Karokhina was invited to perform two concerts with the Washington Balalaika Orchestra in Virginia and Maryland. The WBS (Washington Balalaika Orchestra) is a community-based orchestra of more than fifty musicians with a mixture of amateur and professional training. Conductor Svetlana Nikonova.
Concert with Charleston Symphony Orchestra, South Carolina
On Thursday, January 23rd, 2020 Elina Karokhina, and Mikhail Smirnov performed joined concert titled "FROM RUSSIANS WITH LOVE" with Charleston Symphony Orchestra led by conductor 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.
On January 14, 2015 Elina Karokhina was selected to performed balalaika part with Mariinsky Theatre from St. Petersburg, Russia in Rodion Shchedrin's opera "The Enchanted Wanderer" at the BAM - Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York. Some photos and video from Shchedrin’s rarely staged musical treasure, based on the story by Nikolai Leskov are available on Barynya website
Photo with the Bride and Groom in New York Times (wedding fashion section)
Elina Karokhina and Mikhail Smirnov played during Russian-born mezzo-soprano Ksenia Berestovskaya and an American drummer Christopher Oquist's wedding reception at the Russian restaurant Mari Vanna in New York City. Article about that wedding written by VINCENT M. MALLOZZI called "A Pessimist and an Optimist, Building a Life in Sync" appeared in the fashion/wedding section in New York Times on March 17, 2017.
The wedding celebration at Mari Vanna, a restaurant in the Flatiron district with a heavy Russian accent. The celebration included jugs of vodka and a continuous loop of folk songs from the old country performed by NY Balalaika Duo Mikhail Smirnov and Elina Karokhina. Of her new husband, Ms. Berestovskaya said, "He taught me how to love." Photo Credit: Jessica Lehrman for The New York Times.
Solo concert at the Grand Theater in Ellsworth, Maine
Elina Karokhina and Mikhail Smirnov performed one hour solo concert on Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 at the Grand Theater for Performing Arts in Ellsworth, Maine. Exact address of the theater: 165 Main Street, Ellsworth, ME 04605. Concert program included instrumental numbers, songs and dances.
October 15, 2022. Grand opening of the Magnolia Inn & Wellness Center in Mt Pocono, PA
Performance during Grand opening at the Magnolia Inn & Wellness Center in Mt Pocono, Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 15th, 2022. Over a hundred guests attended the Ribbon Cutting Celebration. Exact address of the venue: 11 Knob Rd, Mt Pocono, PA 18344-1403, Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, United States. Performers cast: Elina Karokhina ( domra), Mikhail Smirnov (garmoshka, guitar, vocals).
August 28, 2022. Russian Wedding reception at The Shore Club in Spring Lake, New Jersey
On Sunday, August 28th, 2022 from 6 to 11pm Mikhail and Elina performed during wedding reception (cocktail hour and dinner) at The Shore Club in Spring Lake.
The Newlyweds especially wanted the Hopak dance during the dancing part. Exact address of the venue: Shore Club, NJ, 700 NJ-71, Spring Lake, NJ 07762.
August 13, 2022. Wedding at the Asbury Hotel, Asbury Park, New Jersey
On Saturday, August 13th, 2022 around 9pm Mikhail and Elina performed a short segment during wedding reception at the Asbury Hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey (210 Fifth Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712). Program of the show included just a few songs: песню Вероники Долиной "А хочешь я выучусь шить", Валенки, Хава нагила, Чардаш, Московские окна и Деспозито.
August 13, 2022. Two concerts at the Historic Cold Spring Village in Cape May, New Jersey
On Saturday August 13th, 2022 musicians of Barynya Balalaika Duo Mikhail Smirnov and Elina Karokhina performed two shows at the Historic Cold Spring Village (summer-opening living history village dedicated to life in the first years of American independence) in Cape May, New Jersey. Exact address of the venue: Historic Cold Spring Village, 735 Seashore Rd, Cape May, NJ 08204. Address for GPS: 720 Rt 9 South, Cape May, NJ 08204. First show: 11:00-11:45pm and second show: 12:00-12:45pm.
August 6, 2022. Ukrainian wedding ceremony at the Drumore Estate in Pequea, Pennsylvania (Martic Township in Lancaster County)
On Saturday, August 6th, 2022 around 4pm Mikhail and Elina performed during Ivan and Andrea Ukrainian wedding ceremony at the Drumore Estate in Pequea, Pennsylvania - Lancaster's popular wedding venue located in Martic Township of the Lancaster County. Exact address: 331 Red Hill Road, Pequea, PA 17565. Requested music included Kolomeyka, Lemko Wedding Song, Yellow by Coldplay, Rainbow by Kasey Musgraves, and other selections.
July 24, 2022. Valentina's 70th Surprise Birthday party at Donatella Restaurant in Harrington Park, NJ
On Sunday, July 24th, 2022 from 1 to 5pm Mikhail and Elina performed at the Valentina's Surprise 70th Birthday party at Donatella Restaurant, 12 Tappan Road, Harrington Park, New Jersey. Музыканты исполнили все любимые песни именинницы: "Миллион алых роз", "Лаванда", "Очи Черные", "Коробейники", "Смуглянка" и многие другие.
July 20, 2022. Virtual performance for Schechter Holocaust Services in Waltham, Massachusetts
Wednesday, July 20th, 2022, 1:30pm. Live performance via Zoom for Schechter Holocaust Services in Waltham, Massachusetts. The program was sponsored by Jewish Family & Children’s Service, 1430 Main Street, Waltham, MA 02451. Title of the event: Virtual "Cafe Hakalah".
July 16, 2022. Birthday party in Carbon County, Pennsylvania
Mikhail and Elina played for about an hour during birthday party in Carbon County, Pennsylvania on Saturday, July 16th, 2022. Performance took place at a brand new private house. About 25 adults and ten kids attended the event. Артисты поздравили именинницу, попели, поиграли, повеселили гостей, пофотографировались с виновницей торжества и её родителями.
July 16, 2022. Russian Adoption Reunion 2022 at the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
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".
July 14, 2022. Thursday Night Out Summer Concert Series in Downtown Oak Park, Illinois
Musicians Nina Tritenichenko, Mikhail Smirnov and Elina Karokhina performed from 5pm to 9pm in downtown Oak Park, Illinois during Thursday Night Out - downtown Oak Park’s popular dine-around summer series that run every Thursday between June 2nd to August 25th from 5 to 9pm. Downtown Oak Park restaurants offer a variety of drinks, appetizers, entrees and desserts on the Thursday Night Out menu and allow diners to eat inside or carry out. Tables are also set up outside for patrons to enjoy dining al fresco.
July 1, 2022. Concert at the Just Home Adult Medical Care in East Brunswick, NJ
On Friday, July 1st, 2022 July 1, 2022 Mikhail Smirnov and Elina Karokhina performed one hour concert at the Just Home Adult Medical Care in East Brunswick, New Jersey for Russian speaking senior citizens. Program included Russian, Jewish, Gypsy, Ukrainian, American music and songs as well as some classical pieces.
On Saturday, March 27th, 2021 from 8 to 11pm Mikhail Smirnov (guitar, garmoshka, vocals) and Elina Karokhina (balalaika virtuoso) played Russian, Gypsy, classical and contemporary music at the Anyway CafeBrooklyn Exact address of the venue: Anyway Cafe 1602 Gravesend Neck Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11229.
12-01-2020. Virtual performance for Musical Bridges Around the World "Facebook Live for Giving Tuesday" event 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.
August 2013, Amytville Library, Long Island, New York
The Cabaret show concert took place on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at the Amityville Public Library, corner of Oak and John Streets in Amitvylle, NY 11701-2911. Elina Karokhina (balalaika), and Mikhail Smirnov (guiar) performed world music while show dancers were changing their outfits.
08-07-2012, Morristown Green, Morristown, New Jersey
Elina Karokhina, Mikhail Smirnov, and dancer Valentina Kvasova performed during international festival at the Morristown Green in Morristown, New Jersey on Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 from noon to 1:15pm.
November 28, 2011. Nyack's Blini, Holy Virgin Protection Russian Orthodox Church
It is always fun to play during Bliny Russian Maslenitsa Pancakes Event in Nayck, New York. This colorful Russian Orthodox Event takes place every year at the Holy Virgin Protection Russian Orthodox Church located at 51 Prospect St, Nyack, NY 10960. On November 28, 2011 Musicians of Barynya Balalaika Duo played mix of Russian, Cossack and Gypsy music and songs as well as some classical pieces.
Temple Israel, JCC of the Greater Five Towns, Long Island, New York
On Saturday, October 29th, 2011, from 8:30pm to 9:45 members of Barynya Balalaika Duo Mikhail Smirnov & Elina Karokhina provided music during Jewish event at the Temple Israel on Long Island. Exact address: JCC of the Greater Five Towns, 140 Central Avenue, Lawrence, New York 11559. Program included Jewish Klezmer music as well as Russian, classical and contemporary pieces.
April 29th, 2010. Balalaika Piano Duo, wedding ceremony in Boston, MA
Balalaika/Piano Duo led by Elina Karokhina provided music for wedding ceremony on April 29th, 2010 in Boston, MA. The music included The Swan (Le Cygne) from Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens, "Here Comes The Bride" Wedding March, J.S.Bach - Arioso from Cantata BWV 156 (Adagio), Ave Maria - Schubert, "CANON IN D" by PACHELBEL, WEDDING MARCH by MENDELSSOHN, "CLAIR DE LUNE" by DEBUSSY, and other selections.
December 25–27, 2010, Tuen Mun Plaza, Main Atrium, Hong Kong
December 25 through December 27, 2010 Elina and Mikhail and four Russian dancers of ensemble Barynya performed several shows at Tuen Mun Plaza in Hong Kong during Christmas Festival. Cast: Balalaika virtuoso Elina Karokhina, garmoshka and guitar player / singer Mikhail Smirnov, dancer Alexey Maltsev, dancer Alexander Rudoy, dancer Anna Brovkina and dancer Olga Yeliseyeva
December 16th, 2010 Russian consulate NYC, New York, USA
24 каприс Николо Паганини,
Крутится вертится шар голубой,
Я встретил вас,
Ах ты береза,
From Russia with love,
Classic medley (поппурри на самые известные темы),
Jewish medley (поппурри на еврейские темы),
О соле мио,
Как заставил меня муж парну банюшку топить русская песня,
Есть только миг,
Ах вы сени, Кадриль, Во кузнице,
Шостакович Вальс № 2,
Вальс из фильма 'Евгений Онегин',
Вальс Осенний сон,
Танго из фильма 'Запах женщины',
Синатра 'Путники в ночи',
Memory из мюзикла 'кэт',
Edith Piaf La vie en rose,
Сердце на снегу,
Танго Черные глаза,
Разговор со счастьем,
Ой мороз мороз,
Food song - песенка про русскую еду,
То не вечер ветку клонит,
Bochelli-Time to say goodbye,
По Дону гуляет,
Как за Доном за рекой,
Из за острова,
Гори гори любовь цыганки,
Только грянет над Москвою,
Ты ж меня Пидманула,
Виновата ли я,
Андреев Вальс Грезы,
Попурри Fiddler of the roof,
Украинская песня Варенички,
Вальс Дунайские волны.
Mexico, Chihuahua, 5th International Festival-2009.
Lev Zabeginsky and Mikhail Smirnov during the 5th International Festival in Mexico, Chihuahua, ten days tour with Russian folk dance and music ensemble Barynya).
click on images below to see full size high resolution photos
Lev Zabeginsky from New York City is composer, arranger, virtuoso balalaika and domra player. Lev was born in Moscow, Russia. He started to play Russian folk music at the age of six. In 1952 he had played with The Youth Folk Quartet in Kremlin at the Joseph Stalin's birthday concert. He graduated from the St.Petersburg Conservatory in 1970 with master degree in composition.
Mikhail Smirnov is a singer, garmoshka, gusli, balalaika contrabass and guitar player from Fort Lee, New Jersey. Mikhail was born in Moscow, Russia. His specialty is traditional Russian folk music and songs from various regions of Russia. As a student of Moscow State University of Culture and Arts Mikhail went to many different parts of Russia such as Tver, Smolensk and Belgorod to collect Russian folklore. In folklore expeditions he had recorded over 100 hours of Russian folk songs.
Mikhail recieved 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.
"Superstars of Dance", NBC, January 4 - January 26, 2009
In January 2009 Mikhail Smirnov was 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. Of course, he can was not able to be judging Team of Russia... The show premiered on NBC network on January 4th and aired through January 26th, 2009.
Lev Zabeginsky and Mikhail Smirnov videos (with Barynya ensemble)
"Two Step Dance" (balalaika solo starts at 42 seconds)
Mikhail Gorbachev's Liberty Medal Award Gala
National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA
Lev Zabeginsky, Mikhail Smirnov and other ensemble Barynya musicians and dancers performed during diner Gala after the Liberty Medal 2008 was presented to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev by President George H.W. Bush. Official ceremony took place on Thursday, September 18, 2008 at The National Constitution Center located at 525 Arch St. on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall.
Dancers and musicians of Barynya ensemble entertained a black-tie dinner for more than 1,000 guests. Audience included President George H. W. Bush, Tom Brokaw, Dikembe Mutumbo and Van Cliburn. Barynya performed both concert music and dance throughout the evening. President's Bush and Gorbachev were thrilled. World known concert pianist Van Cliburn shake hands with the balalaika virtuoso Lev Zabeginsky.
In the end of 2007 Lev Zabeginsky, Mikhail Smirnov and other members of ensemble Barynya were leading a group of Russian Father Frosts and Snow Maidens (Ded Moroz and Snegurochka) to greet New Yorkers and promote new TV Channel "RUSSIA TODAY".
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Live Music Balalaika Band - Wedding Tasting Room & Taphouse at Mount Ida Reserve - in Scottsville, Virginia - October 8, 2022
DJ Alisa, bilingual MC-Tamada Mikhail and eight piece live music band provided music and entertainment for mixed Russian-Jewish-American wedding reception in Scottsville, Virginia on Saturday, October 8th, 2022. For their venue newlyweds selected Tasting Room & Taphouse at Mount Ida Reserve, 5600 Moonlight Dr, Scottsville, VA 24590.
Russian Balalaika Duo - program of Russian, Ukrainian, Gypsy, Cossack, Klezmer, and international music and songs performed on balalaika, garmoshka and guitars. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. video