Mikhail Smirnov, Artistic Director, Founder of Russian dance and music ensemble Barynya from New York
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.
While studying in Moscow, Mikhail followed his passion for Russian folk culture by traveling to many different regions of Russia such as Tver, Smolensk, Belgorod, and Don River to collect Russian folklore at its sourse. He was surprised to find out that folk dances, songs, melodies, lyrics, and tunes change from village to village, even if those as close as a couple of miles apart.
In these folklore expeditions, Misha recorded over 100 hours of Russian folk music and dances, performances on folk instruments. Later he has incorporated much of this original material into repertoire of his ensemble "Barynya" - the biggest (and many believe the best) Russian dance and music ensemble outside of Mother Russia.
Mikhail is adept on a variety of Russian folk instruments including balalaika-contrabass, balalaika, and gusli. However, his favorite instrument remains the garmoshka, the small Russian folk button accordion used in Russian folk music and dancing.
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"Superstars of Dance", NBC
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all photos from Sidney, Australia
Ensemble Barynya at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), exhibition "Faberge Revealed", Salem, Massachusetts, July 2013.
All photos from Barynya performance at the "Faberge Revealed" exhibition, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, July 2013, Shawn Fitzgerald Photography.
June 2013, New York City
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October 21, 2012. Middle Country Public Library, Selden, New York
All photos from October 21st, 2012, Long Island, New York
Georgian dance and Russian Gypsy song & music concert in Yonkers, NY
all photos from concert in Yonkers, New York
Restaurant NASHA RASHA NYC
June 28th, 2012, Gypsy show in Philadelphia, PA
March 2012, Maret Middle School, Washington D.C.
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Oak View Elementary School, Fairfax, Virginia, March 9th, 2012
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State Capella of Saint Petersburg, St.Petersburg, Russia, February 27, 2012.
more photos and videos from the State Capella of St. Petersburg
January 8, 2012, Showcase for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters-2012, New York City
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Huntington Public Library
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NBC's "Law and Order", Special Victims Unit, Episode "Russian Brides" aired on November 10th, 2011. Musicians: Alexandre Tseytlin (violin), Elina Karokhina (balalaika), Mikhail Smirnov (garmoshka). Moment with Barynya musicians starts at 17 minutes 07 seconds from the beginning of the video.
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Corporate event in Miami, Florida. October 20, 2011."Korobushka" and "Kalinka"
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September 17 2011. Wedding at The Garrison (www.thegarrison.com), 1 Snakehill Rd, Garrison, NY 10524.
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Lake Side Adult Care, Brooklyn, New York, August 17th 2011
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Barynya Balalaika Trio on TV. Bevcam TV Studio, Beverly, MA, June 29th, 2011.
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Troika Festival, Erie, Pennsylvania. Memorial day 2011.
Mikhail Smirnov, Alexander Menshikov, Valentina Kvasova. View all photos and videos from TROIKA Festival organized by the Church of the Nativity in Erie, PA.
Balalaika Music Medley
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Ensemble Barynya in San Antonio, Texas, May 8, 2011.
Alexey Maltsev, Alexander Rudoy, Anna Brovkina, Olga Chpitalnaia, Mikhail Smirnov. Texas, May 8 2011. Click to see all photos by Ken Mahnke.
March 25- May 2, 2011. Celebrity Theatre, Dollywood Park, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Friday, March 11th, Old York Road Temple - Beth Am, Abington, Pennsylvania
Click to open full size scan or read the article at the www.jewishexponent.com website. More photos and recommendation letter are available on Balalaika Duo page
Petroushka Ball, 2-11-2011, Waldorf Astoria, New York City
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Anyway cafe NYC with Elina Karokhina (balalaika), February 2011
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February 2011, "Russian Tongue Twisters" video
Watch this video on www.vimeo.com. All videos and photos from ensemble Barynya concert in Los Angeles, California in February 2011.
January 26 2011, school assembly in Brooklyn, New York
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January 30th, 2011, Wedding at the Grand Marquis, Old Bridge, New Jersey
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Performance during basketball game NJ NETS vs Utah JAZZ on January 19th, 2011 at the Prudential Center arena in Newark, New Jersey, USA.
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December 2010, TMPlaza, Hong Kong, China
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December 16th, 2010 Russian consulate NYC, New York, USA
Photos from ensemble Barynya's concert tour in Florida. December 2010.
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Saturday, November 20th, 2010
|Article was printed in December 2009 in "The BDAA Newsletter", the official Journal of the Balalaika and Domra Association of America.|
Fox Hills Adult Community, Friday, January 1st, 2010
Cast: Vasily Yankovich (singer, seven-stringed Gypsy guitar), Alexander Menshikov (singer, tambourine), Mikhail Smirnov (guitar, vocals), Alex Siniavski (balalaika, Gypsy guitar), Alexandre Tseytlin (violin), Valentina Kvasova (dancer, vocals), Mikhail Nesterenko (dancer, costume characters), Natalia Stolichnaya (dancer).
Watch this video on YouTube
Watch this video on YouTube
Annual Petroushka Ball 2009 took place at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The Barynya Balalaika Orchestra performed from 9pm until 2:30am in the morning. List of performers: Leonid Bruk (balalaika-contrabass), Alex Siniavski (balalaika), Lev Zabeginsky (domra), Alexandre Tseytlin (violin), Yan Khmel (bayan), Mikhail Smirnov (garmoshka, guitar, vocals), singers Alexander Menshikov and Lyudmila Fesenko.
Barynya midwest tour 2008 album 01
Barynya midwest tour 2008 album 02
Ukrainian folk song "Byla Mene Maty"
Russian Tongue Twister song "Natalia"
Russian folk song Korobushka
"Gop So Smykom"
On December 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31, 2007 from 12PM till 4 PM New York based Russian dance and music ensemble Barynya dancers and musicians 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".
Mikhail Smirnov, Victoria Pichurova, Valentina Kvasova, Olga Chpitalnaia, Natalia Ejova, Mikhail Nesterenko, Stefan Kuziw, and Roman Lewkowicz photos from Slavic Cultural Festival that took place on September 29, 2007 at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean, VA. Ensemble Barynya shared the stage with the Kazak Family Trio of Belarus, the Bandura Tells of Ukraine, and local organization, the Washington Balalaikas Society Orchestra.
Russian Gypsy singer Alexander Menshikov and Mikhail Smirnov performed as guests artists at the concert with the Sierra Nevada Balalaika Society. Concert took place on October 6, 2007 at the Nightingale Hall at the University of Reno. The Sierra Nevada Balalaika Society is based in Reno, Nevada, and is an affiliate of the BDAA (Balalaika and Domra Association of America)... view pictures
Artistic Director of the Barynya ensemble Mikhail Smirnov was invited to play gusli, balalaika, garmoshka and sing Russian tongue twisters at the FOLKLORAMA 2007 (the largest and longest running multicultural festival of its kind in the world) festival held annualy in Winnipeg, Canada.
Ensemble Barynya was touring the state of OHIO as part of the Ohio Arts Council’s Summer International Music and Performing Arts in Communities Tour (IMPACT). Barynya performed many shows, Russian & Ukrainian dance workshops from July 17 to July 28, 2007. Performance locations included Lakeside, Warren, Marietta, Jackson and Grandview Heights. All performances were free and open to the public.
Performers: Mikhail Smirnov - vocal, garmoshka, guitar, Alex Siniavski - balalaika, Gypsy guitar, Andrij Cybyk - dancer, choreographer, Valentina Kvasova - dance captain, dancer, Leonid Bruk - balalaika contrabass, Alexander Menshikov - singer, tambourine, Victoria Pichurova - singer, Natalia Ejova - dancer, Natia Rtveliashvili - dancer, Stefan Kuziw - dancer, Alex Sizov - dancer... view videos, order full lenght DVD of this concert.
ENSEMBLE BARYNYA PERFORMANCE AT THE Lions Clubs International 90th Convention in Chicago, IL at the Hilton Hotel for the Russian Evening Event on Sunday, July 3rd, 2007. On the photo from left to right: dancer Natalia Ejova, Mikhail Smirnov (garmoshka), Jim Cox (contrabass), Alex Siniavski (balalaika), and dancer Andrij Cybyk... view full size picture
The Russian Nobility Association in America annual Spring Russian Nobility
Ball took place at the luxurious "Pierre" Hotel on May 11, 2007 in New York City.
Musicians and dancers of New York based Russian dance and music ensemble Barynya (full company)
provided music for coctail hour and thirty minute music and dance program during the dinner. "Barynya" performed popular Russian Gypsy pieces: "Two Guitars", "Kay One", "Vingerka", "3 lines", Russian favorite balalaika arrangement "The Moon is shining brightly" and Cossack song and dance "Varen'ka"
April 2007. Fairmont Chicago Hotel, Chicago, IL Sunday, April 29, 2007 from 8 to 11pm. “Gorodissky & Partners”, Ltd. reception at Fairmont Chicago Hotel, 200 N Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60601. Musicians: M.Smirnov (garmoshka, guitar, vocals), Alex Siniavski (balalaika, Gypsy guitar), Stefan Kuziw (tambourine), and Richard Armandi (contrabass). This was the first time ensemble Barynya performed with Richard Armandi on contrabass and Stefan Kuziw on tambourine. We have got Richard's number twenty hours before the show from our friend MOJO. Our own favorite contrabass-balalaika player L.Bruk failed this time.
Gop So Smykom literally "Hop With A Violin Bow", an untranslatable slang nickname of a criminal character, roughly "High-Spirited Hop". In the opening stanza he introduces himself: "Gop So Smykom happens to be me, Listen well, friends. For my trade I've chosen theft. I am hardly ever out of prison, and when I am, the prison misses me. But whatever prison I may be in, not a minute passes without me singing. I stick my hands in my pockets, And walk around, singing out of boredom... read more
Ensemble "Barynya" provided music and dancing for the MASLENITSA at the Embassy of Russia in Washington, DC. It was a long drive from Brooklyn for every BARYNYA member: dancer Vitaly Verterich, singer Victoria Pichurova, musicians Alex Siniavski (balalaika, Gypsy guitar), violinist Alexander Tseytlin and Ruslan Khain (c-bass). Login to YAHOO to see bigger photos from the inside of Russian Embassy in Washington.
Popular Russian song "Katyusha" performed on Russian garmoshka and Gypsy guitar during ensemble "Barynya" tour at the Penn State University campuses in January 2007. Mikhail Smirnov (garmoshka), Alex Siniavski (Gypsy guitar). "Katyusha" is a Russian Soviet wartime song about a girl longing for her beloved, who is away on military service. The music was composed in 1938 by Matvey Blanter, lyrics - Mikhail Isakovski. It was first performed by the celebrated folk singer, Lidiya Rouslanova. "Katyusha" is a tender diminutive from the female name "Ekaterina" (Catherine).
Popular Russian folk song and dance "Kalinka" performed on Russian garmoshka, balalaika and Gypsy guitar during ensemble "Barynya" tour at the Penn State University campuses in January 2007. Mikhail Smirnov (garmoshka), Alex Siniavski (Gypsy guitar, balalaika), and dancers Andrij Cybyk, and Natalia Ejova
Ensemble Barynya performed in Wisconsin with dancers Olga Chpitalnaia, Valentina Kvasova, Ganna Makarova, Andrij Cybyk, Vitaly Verterich, and Mikhail Nesterenko; musicians: Ruslan Khain - contrabass, Mikhail Smirnov - garmoshka, singer Alexander Menshikov, and Alex Siniavski - balalaika... view all videos, photos, listen to MP3, buy DVD and CD.
September 2006. Baltimore, Maryland
2 min 20 sec Russian Gypsy folk song and dance "Those were the days" video. Folk singer Alexander Menshikov and Russian music ensemble "Barynya" showcase at the booking conference on September 29, 2006 in Baltimore, Maryland. Mikhail Smirnov-guitar, Vadim Kolpakov-Russian Gypsy 7-string guitar, Ruslan Khain - balalaika contrabass, Alex Siniavski-balalaika, Gypsy guitar
August 2006. Reno, Nevada
Alexander Menshikov and Mikhail Smirnov are performing as "GYPSY BOYS" at the "Starlight Serenade" concert presented by the Sierra Nevada Balalaika Society at the Bartley Ranch Amphitheater, at 7:30 pm on Saturday, September 2nd. The Sierra Nevada Balalaika Society is dedicated to the perpetuation of music written for the balalaika, domra, and related instruments.
July 2006. Akron, Ohio.
The annual conference of The Balalaika and Domra Association of America took place in Akron, Ohio. Mikhail Smirnov and singer Alexander Menshikov went there to teach Russian folk singing and Russian folk chorus and also to perform for over 160 attendees of the BDAA conference. view photos
|Barynya musicians play aboard World Yacht's " Princess" at Pier 81 (West 41st street at the Hudson River) in New York City at the Russian Children's Welfare Society event "Petroushka on the Hudson".|
Ensemble Barynya was invited to perform at the Annual Russian Nobility Ball. The show took place in Grand Ball Room of "The Pierre Hotel", Fifth Avenue at 61st Street, New York City, USA on Friday, May 13th, 2005. Everybody loved professionalism of Barynya dancers and musicians. There was a piece in the International Russian TV news RTVI about the Ball that you can download below. When Russian Nobility of the United States wants to party "Russian Way", they hire ensemble Barynya to dance and sing for them!
In February of 2004 ensemble Barynya participated in "Party Planner with David Tutera" on famous Discovery Channel show. It was funny how many people watched that show on TV and complemented us on being a part of it. That is clear now that best in Party Business choose BARYNYA when they are looking for Russian theme entertainment.
Russian dance and music ensemble "Barynya" was founded back in 1991. Sasha Anchutin, Natasha Demidova and myself rehearsed the first few numbers at the Russian restaurant Fyodoroff in Glen Cove, Long Island. We always started concert program with traditional dance "Barynya" which later become the name of our group.
In 1998 I registered and begin to design and promote Russian entertainment database website wich has become the first on-line Russian folk entertainment resouce in the United States. Since 1998 more then 500 venues found and hired Russian folk dancers, musicians, singers and ensembles using this daily updated catalog. Registration is still free! Since 2005 I become a member of many booking conferences for touring artists. There is hope to get even more gigs for performers and groups listed on my website in the United States and all over the world.
Being apart from professional performing on the stage with extraordinary musicians and dancers of ensemble Barynya I still go to parties with my friends. Then I take with me my favorite TULSKAYA GARMOSHKA, balalaika or guitar. We will sing and dance chastushki, Moroz-Moroz, Kalina and all our favorite Russian songs.
Russian folk music and dance ensemble Barynya performance
Russian Heritage Event at Macy's Kings Plaza. Brooklyn, New York
Leonid Bruk, Alex Siniavski, Mikhail Smirnov
In 1994 I have met wonderful musician and balalaika virtuoso Alex Siniavski. As "Russian Balalaika Duo" we performed all over the United States, released two compact disks: Barynya Russian folk songs, Sergey Gusarov and first in the world BALALAIKA TUTORIAL ON DVD.
In 1992 extremely talented Russian dancer Sasha Anchutin, who was trained and performed with world known Moyseev Dance Company, joined the group as choreographer and dancer. That was the beginning of Russian folk dance and music ensemble Barynya. The first show took place at Russian restaurant "Fyodoroff", Carle Place, Long Island, NY. The show always started with the dance BARYNYA and that also served as a name of our project.
After a while we started to perform with Natalia Demidova as Russian folk duo Misha and Natasha from Russia. Together we made compact disk "Beyond The Don River Russian Folksongs. That recording was very well recieved by people. It was offered through TOWER RECORDS chain, QVC Television Network and many other venues. We did not make millions, but it was great! People recognize us, we were touring the country with various groups, giving interviews to newspapers and signing autographs.
On May 7th 1991 I arrived in the United States as a part of the "Moscow State Center Russkaya Pesnya (Russian Song)", director Nadezhda Babkina. Our show consisted of Elena Ivanova, Elena Kuz'mich, Marina Gorokhova, Natalia Demidova, Leonid Gorelov and Dmitriy Sharov and myself. We performed at the Russian restaurant "Fyodoroff" in Carle Place, New York.
When my student years in Moscow State Academy of Arts were over I was working as singer/actor and choirmaster of Russian folk theatre MATANYA. It was a lot of fun. We were touring Siberia and rehearsing in Central House of Culture of Rail Road Workers. After ensemble "MATANYA" I was working with well known in Russia "Moscow State Center Russkaya Pesnya (Russian Song)", director Nadezhda Babkina. With this group I was lucky to perform in the best concert halls of Russia and touring in Kongo and USA.
As a student of Moscow State University of Culture and Arts I went to many different parts of Russia such as Tver, Smolensk and Belgorod to collect Russian folklore. Songs, melodies, lyrics and tunes change from village to village, even those as close as couple of miles apart. In folklore expeditions I have recorded over 100 hours of Russian folk songs, tunes, and lyrics. Many of those songs are used in the program of ensemble "Barynya".
Before graduation Misha (Mikhail Smirnov) was a soloist/choirmaster at vocal semi-professional group "Moskovia" (Moscow, Russia), director Valery Kuzmich Nesterov. He has received his formal education master degree in in Russian folk chorus conducting at the Moscow State Academy of Culture and Arts.
I was in the Service for two years, from November 1984 to November 1986. It was the most difficult time of my life. I still remeber taste of food and smell of the KAZARMA where soldiers sleep. Among other responsibilities I was director of soldier's ensemble "Impuls" and also playing tuba in Russian Army Military Orchestra.
The Moscow Boys Chorus was my school. It was located in the center of Moscow, next to Pushkin's Square.
The Moscow Boys Choir is considered to be one of Russia's most prestigious all-boy a cappella ensembles.
Our teacher and director Ninel Davydovna Kamburg, God bless her soul... has directed The Moscow Boys Choir since 1966. Choir members attend a special school in Moscow, where the boys traditionally begin rigorous training music as early as age 5. Those selected for the touring choir are chosen from all over Russia on the basis of both their talent at singing (choir members are hailed throughout the world for their "angelic" voices) and their discipline. "There is a level of honor for these boys to be members of the choir, but there are no life-style advantages. I was thrilled when as a child I was selected to study and perform with this premiere all-male ensemble. In 2001 The moscow Boys Chorus were touring United States and I was lucky to attend their performance in New Jersey. Below you can see two pictures with Ninel Davydovna Kamburg and its current director Mr. Leonid Baklushin
|Article "Balalaikas, garmoshkas, vodka and caviar" published in "The BDAA Newsletter" December 2009 , the official Journal of the Balalaika and Domra Association of America.|
Mikhail Smirnov blog at www.LiveJournal.ru
Folklorama 2007 Russian Pavillion Winnipeg, Canada. 2007
Brooklyn Gypsy Cossacks rehearsal. 2007
Article about Russian dance. 2006
Article in L Magazine, 2006
Review of an album by balalaikist Nikita Siniy. 2006
Open Letter to balalaika player Sasha Ressetar. 2006
Ensemble Barynya in Eugene, Oregon. 2006
Balalaika player's Christmas Diary. 2005
How to buy contrabass balalaika. 2004
блог Михаила Смирнова на сайте www.LiveJournal.ru
"Pепетиция ансамбля Барыня" в журнале "Сова". 2007
Краткая история русского народного танца. 2006
рецензия на альбом "Ничего себе балалайка"
Славянский фестиваль в городе Юджине, штат Орегон, 2006
Рождественский дневник балалаешника. 2005
Покупаем контрабас-балалайку. 2004
"Как бросить курить". 2000
"Как исполнять русские матерные частушки". 1999
Гороскопчик Миши Смирнова "О Вас без прикрас". 1998
New York based Russian folk dance and music ensemble "Barynya" DVD.
Russian folk dances, tunes, songs, virtuoso performances on balalaika, bass-balalaika, gusli and garmoshka.
Runtime: 1 hour
Cover Art: Anna Nagorskaya
Price: $30 US dollars (first class shipping included)
Garmoshka Russian traditional music album in February 2007. Recording was made possible by singers-songwriters, Russian bard musicians Yuriy and Viktor Tenman from New York at their recording studio in Staten Island (Villa Nova Studio). Album contains traditional Russian tunes: "Kalinka", "Moscow nights", "Korobushka" and other Russian favorite songs performed on Russian garmoshka. If you ever attend a Russian party where people are singing, you will be able to recognize all the tunes from this album. The very first song that people will do together after a few drinks at the Russian wedding or Birthday party most likely will be "Moroz-Moroz" or "Gorochka"... read more, MP3 samples
Ethnic Russian Music Album recorded with ensemble Barynya in December 2006. Total time 45:46. Album released by AS IZ Recording. Philadelphia, PA. 2006. Favorite Russian melodies and songs performed on garmoshka, balalaika, Gypsy and classic guitars and contrabass... more information, MP3 samples
Russian folk music, song and dance album. Runtime: 64 minutes. Ensemble Barynya live from Wisconsin. Album released by AS IZ Recording. Philadelphia, PA. 2006. Songs: "The Peddlers", "You stood me up", "Angry mother (bila mene maty)", "Tongue Twister". Dances: "Hopak", "Sailor's Dance", "Barynya", "Kalinka". Balalaika solo: "The Moon is shining", "Chardash"... more info, MP3s, order
Russian Christmas Music Balalaika Album. Balalaika virtuoso Alex Siniavski, Mikhail Smirnov (guitar). Runtime: 51 minutes. Album released by AS IZ Recording. Philadelphia, PA. 2005. 25 Russian folk songs, dances, tunes, favorite Christmas and Holiday selections such as "Carol of Bells", "Deck The Halls", "Father Frost", "Jingle Bells", "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas", "Joy To The World", "Folk Carol from Smolensk", "Snowstorm", "Snegoorochka"... more information, MP3 samples
Sergey Gusarov" Russian folk songs and balalaika music album recorded with ensemble Barynya. Album released by AS IZ Recording. Philadelphia, PA. 2004. Russian folk music, tunes, songs and dances including title song Sergey Gusarov. Runtime: 65 minutes... more information, MP3 samples
Balalaika music album "Barynya Russian folk songs" recorded with balalaika virtuoso Alex Siniavski. Runtime: 35m 09s, Cover Art: Yury Tarler. Album released by AS IZ Recording. Philadelphia, PA. 2003. There are Russian folk tunes, dances and songs including "Evening bells", "Kalinka", "Katyusha", "Moscow Nights" and "Dark Eyes"... MP3 samples, order
"Beyond The Don River" Russian folksongs compact disk with singer Natalia Demidova (Smirnov) as Russian folk duo Misha and Natasha from Russia. Album released by RUSA Records, Philadelphia, PA. 1995. . Cover Art Vladimir Nekrasov. There are Russian folk lymericks, Cossacks ballads and marching songs, popular tunes and chastushki with accompaniment of garmoshka, guitar and balalaika... more info/Order
- What do you get when you play Russian folk music backwards?
- Russian Folk Music!