Ukrainian duo to perform in Tryon

Published 3:54 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It may look like just another squeeze box, but on close inspection its quite different from an accordion. The bayan, a Ukrainian and Russian instrument, has a bigger, richer sound because of its large size, and there are buttons on both sides which allow the bayanist to play much faster than is possible on a piano accordion.

The bayan will be one of the featured instruments in a concert to be presented on Friday, November 12, at 3 p.m. at Tryon Presbyterian Church. The performing artists will be the Marunych Duo Volodymir on bayan and Natalia on domra, from Kiev, Ukraine.

The domra is a mandolin-like instrument which had its origins in Mongolia before the 13th century. After many years of warfare the Russians finally chased the Mongols out of the country (approximately 1238, in January), and in their haste, the Mongols left their instruments behind. In time the domra, whose body is a sphere cut in half with a flat round face, evolved into the balalaika, by making an instrument which was a half-domra, thus resulting in the triangular body. Most of us learned what a balalaika is from the movie Dr. Zhivago.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In their upcoming concert the Marunyches will present arrangements of light classics, folk tunes of Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe, popular songs and movie music from the Soviet era, and original compositions by Volodymir.

The Marunyches will be visiting Tryon as guests of John and Elizabeth Gardner. The Gardners and Marunyches met in the 1990s in performances of the Washington Balalaika Society Orchestra.

Volodymir Marunych started playing his bayan at the age of six, and later studied at the Ukrainian Academy of Music in Kiev, earning degrees as a bayan soloist, conductor, and composer. He has more than 250 published arrangements and compositions to his credit a body of music which is very popular in Ukraine. He has recorded CDs with a variety of orchestras, trios and ensembles. He is an associate professor of bayan at the Ukrainian Academy of Music and is conductor of the folk orchestra at that institution.

Natalia Marunych is a well known domra soloist, a member of the Native Tunes ensemble of the Kiev National Philharmonic, and a teacher at the Kiev State Music College. She is an honors graduate of the Kiev Academy of Music.

Partners in life as well as on the stage, Natalia and Volodymir have toured as musicians around the United States and Europe several times. They are the winners of numerous national and international competitions.

There is no admission charge for the concert on November 12; however, donations will be appreciated and will go to the artists. For reservations and more information, contact Elizabeth Gardner via e-mail at or telephone at 828-859-6751.