Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota Presents Russian Folk Music and Dance

Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota Presents

Russian Folk Music and Dance

with the Barynya Russian Balalaika Duo

Elena Karokhina

Mikhail Smirnov

February 28 Michael’s On East Ballroom

The ballroom at Michael’s On East becomes a feast for all senses with this interactive luncheon program of Russian popular and folk songs featuring colorful costumes, lively dance and music performed by two renowned masters of the genre.

(Sarasota, Florida) Artists Series Concerts’ 2019 Sarasota Lunch & Listen series continues with the Barynya Russian Balalaika Duo, February 28, at Michael’s On East, 1212 South East Ave., Sarasota. Multi instrumentalists Elena Karokhina and Mikhail Smirnov, both members of the world renowned Barynya Russian music, dance and song ensemble, will perform an interactive program of Russian folk and popular songs that includes “Lara’s Theme” from Dr. Zhivago, “Two Guitars,” the “Cossack Dance,” “Moscow Nights,” “Kalinka” and much more. The concert begins at 11:00 a.m. followed by luncheon at 12:15 p.m. Tickets are $48 and are available online at or by calling 941-306-1202, Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The duo will also be performing for area third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at a residency to be held on Monday, March 1, at Sainer Auditorium on the New College campus. The residency is done in partnership with New College of Florida and the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County.

            Founded in 1991 by Mikhail Smirnov, the Russian music, dance and song troupe Barynya is considered by many to be the premier Russian folk ensemble outside of Russia. Barynya presents traditional Russian, Cossack, Ukrainian, Jewish and Romani Gypsy dancing, music and songs as well as virtuoso performances on such traditional Russian instruments as the balalaika, garmoshka (folk button accordion) and balalaika contrabass. In the U.S, they have performed at Carnegie Hall, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, the Smithsonian Institution, the United Nations, and at the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. Members of the ensemble have been invited to perform at many film premier and celebrity parties, including official post-Grammy award parties in New York and for private events hosted by Barbara Walters, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, and Tommy Hilfiger. Founder and artistic director Mikhail Smirnov was also invited to be one of the eight judges on NBC’s hit dance show, "Superstars of Dance".

            As a child in Russia, Mikhail Smirnov performed with the Moscow Boys Choir, one of the most prestigious all-male choirs in Russia. Before coming to the United States in 1991, he was a soloist in several Russian folk dance and music groups including the Moscow State Center for Russian song (Russkaya Pesnya). While studying in Moscow, Smirnov travelled to several regions of Russia, recording over 100 hours of Russian folk music and dance that he later incorporated into Barynya’s vast repertoire. As a musician, Smirnov is master of a variety of Russian folk instruments including the balalaika contrabass, balalaika, gusli and his favorite, the garmoshka.

            Balalaika virtuoso Elina Karokhina was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), the daughter of Pushkin Prize-winning author (and jazz saxophonist) L'ev Fyodorovich Karokhin. After training extensively in her native Russia, Karokhina spent the early part of her career teaching and also touring around the world as a balalaika soloist. Karokhina moved to the U.S. in 2009, where she founded and performed with the Boston Russian Music Duo. Currently she is a musical director of Barynya and performs as a soloist with them as well as with several other ensembles. She has performed with the Mariinsky Theatre at Brooklyn’s Howard Gilman Opera House and on multiple occasions at Carnegie Hall in New York. In January 2017, Karokhina was chosen to perform Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh" suite with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

            Artists Series Concerts is also partnering with New College of Florida and the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County to bring area students to Sainer Auditorium on the New College campus for a residency with the duo. John Fischer, managing director of Artist Series Concerts is particularly pleased with the partnership: “This collaboration and these vibrant artists are a wonderful opportunity for us to honor our longtime commitment to raising awareness and appreciation of a variety of music genres for all ages throughout our region. Both of our audiences are in for a festive and colorful musical treat.”