Moscow Nights

Moscow Nights is dedicated to the presentation and preservation of the best of Russian culture. Moscow Nights is a dynamic force bringing the riches of Russian culture to Louisiana audiences.

~ Russian New Orleans! ~

Here is a list of Russians who are making (or have made) an impact on the cultural scene in New Orleans and Louisiana.

Larisa Ivakina Clevenger
Larisa has been the principal art designer for our Russian Winter Festival. Her artistic mastery includes watercolor and oil, wooden icons and murals, interior and costume design, as well as illustrations. Ms. Ivakina’s landscapes can be seen in Russian museums, at the St. Jude Shrine and Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel in New Orleans, as well as in private collections.

Upon her return to New Orleans following the damages from Hurricane Katrina, she is staying busy with Art Shows, local Art Markets, and teaching private workshops on drawing, acrylics, watercolors, and icons.


Misha Kachkachishvili
Misha has been the principal Audio and Music Recording Engineer from the Republic of Georgia.  He is Moscow Nights' principal recording and mastering soundtrack engineer for all of our Russian Theater Play soundtracks. He studied music since the age of five and is familiar with a variety of musical styles.  He started working as a Studio Musician in the 1980s, recording in various studios throughout Europe. He has also worked since the mid-1980s as a Master Guitarist performing in various countries across Europe, Asia, and here in America.

Misha gradually worked his way up into and through the global music industries ~ moved to New Orleans and opened first Axis Studios twenty years ago ~ and in 2013 opened Esplanade Studios of New Orleans at its current location.  Today, Esplanade Studios of New Orleans is the largest recording and post-production audio and music studio in Louisiana and in the Southeastern United States ~ and one of the ten largest studios in America.


Faina Lushtak
Faina has been a friend and donor of Moscow Nights since its inception. Whenever possible, she participates in our productions as a Pianist and Composer. Ms. Lushtak is Downman Professor of Music at the Newcomb Music Department of Tulane University where she heads the Piano Division and is the Music Director of Tulane’s Concert Piano Series. She is also on the faculty of the Schlern International Music Festival in Italy.

Ms. Lushtak is a Steinway Artist as well as a 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner of the Big Easy. Ms. Lushtak can be heard on the Centaur label performing works by Rachmaninoff and Scriabin. In January 2005, Centaur released her new recording “Chopin Mazurkas.”


Zaza Marjanishvili
Zaza is a Jazz Pianist and Composer from the Republic of Georgia. Since coming to this country in the 1990’s, he has worked on a variety of musical projects such as composing movie sound tracks and producing albums.  He wrote the musical score for Moscow Nights’ production of “The Water Nymph” by Alexander Pushkin.

Hurricane Katrina forced him to move back to his native city of Tbilisi, but he has now returned to New Orleans, maintains his artistic ties with Moscow Nights, and is always ready to compose his wonderful music for our productions.


Sergei Ponomarov
Sergei is an actor, director, writer, painter, and translator. He completed work on audio CD’s of classic Russian fairy tales in his native language ~ combining actors’ voices for fairy tale characters with music and other special effects.  To do this, he has founded the company TYM-TAM (Theater at the Mike). His goal is to preserve the richness and language of these stories for a broad audience of Russian speaking children.

Hurricane Katrina forced Mr. Ponomarov to move to Atlanta, Georgia, he is always prepared to help Moscow Nights.


Natasha O. Ramer
Natasha is a four-decades' veteran of Russian professional theater, is the Founder and Artistic Director of Moscow Nights, Inc. from 1999 to the present.  She received her Master's of Fine Arts at the Russian Academy of the Performing Arts (GITIS), where she studied under Maria Knebel, a renowned actress, brilliant director and inspiring professor who was trained by Michael Chekhov and Konstantin Stanislavsky. 

Since coming to New Orleans in 1984, she brought numerous theatrical productions, concerts, poetry readings, lectures, and festivals to the city.  She is an actress and cabaret singer as well as a theater director, producer, and teacher.


Alexandra Raskina
Alexandra currently teaches Russian Literature at Tulane University. A Russian scholar, she has edited “The Last Diary of Tsarina Alexandra" as part of the "Yale University Press Annals of Communism" series.

Her husband, Alexander Wentzell (Professor of Mathematics at Tulane University) has recently published a book of literary commentaries in Russia. Both are frequently consulted on translating Russian literature into English prose and verse, as well as on Russian life, history, and literature.


Benjamin Sher (1945 ~ 2007)

Benjamin was a gifted Translator and Poet ~ died on November 6, 2007.  Benjamin dedicated his whole life to Russian culture, and his death is a great loss for us all. 

Among his major translations are V. Shklovsky’s Theory of Prose (Dalkey Archive Press, 1990), K. Vaginov’s The Tower (Kozlinaya Pesn’ in Russian), and The Road to Terror:  Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939 (Yale U. Press, 1999). The Tower and many other works by Benjamin Sher can be found at his website: Also at this site one can find Sher’s Russian Index: a structured guide to websites concerned with all things Russian.  Sher’s Russian Index, which specialists have praised as perhaps the most comprehensive catalog that exists on things Russian, is widely used by people interested in Russian language and culture.

For fourteen years Benjamin worked together with his wife Anna, born in Russia, who is also engaged in the study of literature, and also a translator (into Russian).  The two of them made a great team.  The last translation on which they worked together was Culture in Transition: A Search for Identity Through the Arts in Post-Soviet Russia (the papers of the international conference held at Yale in 2003) published in a bilingual edition in the Fall of 2006 by the National Center for Contemporary Art, in Moscow.   

A poet himself, Benjamin used to say: “Poets don’t pass away. Poets die.”


Yakov Voldman
Yakov immigrated to the United States in 1990. Since 1992 he has been involved with Southeastern Louisiana University as a Professor of Violin and Director of the Southeastern Chamber Orchestra.

He built the university’s String Program from scratch, and has raised it to its current successful state. Under his direction, the Chamber Orchestra has performed a number of concerts – some televised – with world-famous soloists.

Return to top of page

Support Us Now With An Online Donation


© 2007 ~ Present Moscow Nights, Inc.