Samovar Russian Folk Music

Michael Nazaretz (Accordion) - Michael first performed in a Russian folk music group in his native Cleveland, Ohio in the early 1960s. In Washington, D.C. area, he's played with the "Old Village Band" (Russian), "Dunav" (Balkan), "Lox and Vodka" (Jewish/ klezmer/ Russian), and the Washington Balalaika Society Orchestra.

Yelena Rector (Prima Domra) - Yelena graduated from the Saratov Music Conservatory in Russia, is a music teacher, and plays with the American Balalaika Symphony. Yelena is very fond of caviar.

Andrei Saveliev (Prima Balalaika) - Andrei graduated from the Rimsky-Korsakov Consercatory in his native Saint Petersburg. Widely known for his virtuosic performances, Andrei frequently soloes with the Washington Balalaika Society Orchestra.

Ilhan Izmirli (Alto Balalaika/Guitar) - Ilhan has been playing folk, jazz, and blues since the early 1980s. He is interested in the relationship between mathematics (he has two Ph.D.'s in the field) and music, and has presented papers on the subject at professional conferences.

Andrei Mamoutkine (Contrabass Balalaika) - Andrei has played bass balalaika with the American Balalaika Symphony since 2002. Although his first US job was on the modest side- softeware support for hot dog vending machines- he now teaches at NASA, John Hopkins University, and the National Institute of Health.

Nikita Wells (Vocalist) - Nikita has sung in Washington, DC, New York City, and Europe, and is general manager of the National Lyric Opera Company. Nikita has an interest in orchestral composition, and he is currently writing an opera on the theme of Dracula, "Two Counts at Stake."

Olga Rines (Vocalist) - Olga has participated in folklore expeditions from St Petersburg collecting songs in northern Russia. When not teaching Russian culture and language to economists at the World Bank, Olga enjoys teaching Russian song and dance to young children.


A Samovar is a metal urn, often of brass, with a spigot near its base, widely used in Russia to boil water for tea. Invented in the mid-18th century, the samovar was often a favorite place for families to gather for tea, conversation, and occasionally even music.


Our songs have appeared on the following movie soundtracks:

“Proshchay” in the movie “Whiteout,” starring Kate Beckinsale (September 2009).

Several songs in the movie, “Driven to Kill," starring Steven Seagal (May 2009).

“Kolomeyka,” in the documentary, “Yippee,” directed by Paul Mazursky (Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Moscow on the Hudson, etc.) (June 2006).

“Smuglyanka” will be in an independent movie, “Remarkable Power” (no release date at this time).

Bottom Swirl