Russian Duo to open the Ironton Council for the Arts

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 6, 2023

The Cleveland area-based and internationally acclaimed Russian Duo will perform the inaugural concert of the Ironton Council for the Arts 2023-24 subscription concert series. 

The concert will be held at the Ohio University Southern Riffe Center Mains Rotunda on Sunday, Oct. 8 at 3 p.m. Admission is $15, season tickets to all six concerts are $50 and tickets may be purchased at the door. Students of all ages and children are admitted free. Ohio University Southern is handicap accessible. 

The Russian Duo is an international project founded in 2007 by Oleg Kruglyakov, a Russian balalaika virtuoso, and Terry Boyarsky, who is an American concert pianist, ethnomusicologist, and is a Dalcroze and Orff Schulwerk specialist, both of which emphasize creative, developmental, and experiential approaches to music education. 

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Oleg is one of two recipients of the prestigious Ohio Arts Council 2023 Heritage Fellowship. This is a lifetime achievement award which celebrates the vitality of Ohio’s folk and traditional arts by recognizing traditional master artists who demonstrate and reflect Ohio’s living cultural heritage.

They celebrate cross-cultural creativity, exploring the range of possibilities for balalaika (an indigenous Russian string folk instrument), voice and piano. 

Their repertoire includes humorous pieces, virtuoso variations, pulsating dance music, rhythmic folk songs, and lyrical romances. The Russian Duo also performs music of Ukrainian composers, tango, bluegrass, Soviet film music, and their own arrangements. 

Oleg Kruglyakov was born in Omsk, Siberia. Many of his early experiences growing up centered around singing together with family members. He was educated at the renowned Yekaterinburg Conservatory and later taught at the Irkustsk School of Music, Perm College of Music, and the Perm Institute of Culture. 

Oleg has performed as balalaika soloist with many Russian folk groups throughout Russia, Europe, and Scandinavia. He has participated in many international festivals and performed for the United Nations when he first came to the U.S. He has also participated in theater productions, has been commissioned to compose music for a children’s theater production and for a children’s puppet troupe, has four albums to his credit, and regularly performs and judges in a variety of venues in the U.S. and Russia. 

In addition to being the Russian Duo’s pianist, Terry Boyarsky is a movement specialist, ethnomusicologist, and singer.  She has engaged in collaborations involving chamber music, choral singing, folk dance, coaching, and accompanying dance. She has collaborated with singers and dancers across the U.S., Canada, France, Switzerland, and Venezuela. She holds degrees from Reed College (B.A. in Experimental Psychology), the Cleveland Institute of Music (B.M. in Eurhythmics) and Kent State University (M. A. in Ethnomusicology).  

Terry has taught and created events for institutions such as the Dalcroze Society of America, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and universities in the U.S., Thailand, and Venezuela. She was in the first group of artists selected in the Kennedy Center’s Ohio State-Based Collaborative Initiative and is on the Ohio Teaching Artist roster. Terry is also a published author in publications such as the Orff Echo and Dalcroze Eurythmics Journal, sings with the Cleveland Orchestra Blossom Festival Chorus, the Choral Arts Cleveland and has presented her solo piano program “Classical Expressions of the Folk Tradition” to great acclaim. (   

The Ironton Council for the Arts received Ohio Arts Council ArtSTART and Ohio Artists on Tour grants for the 2023-24 subscription concert season. These will help defray operational and performance expenses and the Ironton Council for the Arts would like to thank the Ohio Arts Council for these awards.

Russian Duo

Oleg Kruglyakov (balalaika) & Terry Boyarsky (piano)

Genre Style: Classical, world, folk

Location: Cleveland

How did the project start? In 2007, Oleg was looking for a musical collaborator and found Terry on the Ohio Arts Council artist-in-residence roster. He wrote, sent audio samples, they met and, after two rehearsals, they decided to create Russian Duo.

What are three adjectives to describe your style? Dazzling, spontaneous, passionate

How has your art evolved since you started? We started out with mostly classical music plus the unique, rarely heard repertoire created originally for balalaika-piano duo. We branched out to folk songs, film music, tango and bluegrass. We arranged an old rag time piano piece for our duo that was so popular we contacted an Ohio composer who writes “Neo-ragtime” to ask permission to arrange one of his compositions for our duo. He agreed, he came up to hear us play it at the premiere in Cleveland. We love playing and working with children and we have a huge amount of material for all ages, K through high school. We use an arts integrated approach to teach music, culture, and collaboration. As our world becomes more global, we believe it is vital to demonstrate the importance of international collaboration on a cultural level to our younger generation. Russian Duo creates educational concerts, workshops, and residencies based on musicianship, curriculum, and teamwork. Oleg and Terry are on the Ohio Teaching Artist Roster. We love collaborating with other artists. We’ve performed with dancers, our music has been used for some short films, and most recently we created a mainstage show – an elegant synthesis of music and literature with an actor, a violist and a tenor.

Here is a quote you might like:  “As a Middle School, we often worry about bringing in new performers since we aren’t sure how they will be able to relate to our adolescent audience. Terry and Oleg, however, demonstrated not only a mastery in musical collaboration, but also in their ability to connect with our fifth through eighth grade students. Utilizing musical genius with a folky coziness, they won over our crowd with individual and whole audience participation punctuated with humor and valuable lessons on how to work together. The Russian Duo is a must for schools wishing to broaden their students exposure to different cultures, the benefits of the arts, and teamwork!”

Casey Schnieber, 6th Grade Science and Team Leader, MS Dean of Students, Cincinnati Country Day School.

What is your favorite creative tool, and why? Working and playing with others! Two or more minds and hearts generate deeper, better, richer material.

What about being an artist fills your cup? Why should others take interest in the arts? The arts are an edifying, humanizing way to communicate, uplift and influence people and society. Music is both expressive and healing, building empathy along the way.

Any advice for new or struggling artists? For beginners – begin! For struggling artists — keep struggling!

What upcoming project should we look for, and where can we look for it?

Oleg Kruglyakov just received the 2023 Ohio Heritage Fellowship award which is awarded in recognition of the significant impact an individual or group has had on the people and communities of the state through their advancement and preservation of the folk or traditional arts. Soon he will be profiled through the Traditions video series, produced in partnership with public broadcasting affiliate ThinkTV.

“The Ohio Arts Council is pleased to present two internationally recognized artists with this award,” said OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins. “Their commitment to the preservation and cultivation of their respective art forms in Northeast Ohio and beyond has helped to deepen people’s understanding of the connections between art, culture, and history.”