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.

Lectures ~ Classes ~ Readings

~ The Best Of Russia! ~

~ Lectures ~

Since its establishment, Moscow Nights has been dedicated to bringing informative programs on various aspects of Russian and Eastern European culture to the people of Louisiana. These programs have come in the form of lectures and classes, concerts and readings; while the formats have varied, their aim – to educate the intellectually curious – has remained true.

An Evening with Alexandre Vassiliev

In 2000, An Evening with Alexandre Vassiliev was a night featuring the world-renowned fashion designer, costume historian, and regular contributor to the Russian-language editions of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.  The event took place at Le Chat Noir.

In addition to presenting a slide show and lecture about those who, having lost their lives of privilege as a result of the Russian Revolution made names for themselves in the world of fashion, Vassiliev signed English-language copies of his book Beauty in Exile.  This project was made possible with the assistance of Garden District Books and the generous support of the Louisiana Endowment of the Humanities.

To read the article that appeared in the Times Picayune about this event, click here


To learn more about Alexandre Vassiliev and his work in fashion visit:

www.vassiliev.com

Alexandre Vassiliev

 

The Life and Legacy of Alexander Pushkin

One of Moscow Nights’ most successful programs sought to shine a light on the works of the 19th century poet Alexander Pushkin, a Russian whose connection to the American South seems suddenly obvious when it is pointed out that Pushkin, who nicknamed himself Afrikanets, was the descendant of a Camaroon slave in the court of Peter the Great.

In 2002, thanks to a special grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Moscow Nights presented The Life and Legacy of Alexander Pushkin, a lecture on Pushkin’s life and place in Russian letters by Professor Boris Gasparov of Columbia University.  This well-attended event kicked off the organization’s Tribute to Alexander Pushkin.

Since the work of Pushkin is not regularly read today in this country, Moscow Nights entertained audiences of its 2002 Winter Festival with theatrical readings of a number of Pushkin’s poems, both in Russian and English. Readers included Tristan Codrescu, C. Cain Lee, Ryan Reineke, and Natasha Ramer

Professor Boris Gasparov

 

~ Musical Programs ~

Simion Gronic

At the beginning of 2008, Mr. Ken Schneider, President of the Apogee Foundation, called Natasha Ramer to tell her that the Apogee Foundation would very much like to bring Simion Gronic, a remarkable twelve-year-old musician from Chisinau, Moldova, to visit and perform in New Orleans.  Simion Gronic, an Apogee Merit Scholar who plays six different instruments, had the dream of playing his music (including his trumpet) in New Orleans, the home of his idol Louis Armstrong

Mr. Schneider asked whether Moscow Nights could help in arranging this visit.  The Apogee Foundation is an international philanthropic organization dedicated to the development of human excellence in the performing arts, and Moscow Nights was delighted to join in this collaboration.  As part of this collaboration, Natasha Ramer became the coordinator of Simion Gronic’s New Orleans visit. 

Prior to his arrival, Natasha Ramer, Artistic Director of Moscow Nights contacted John Rodi, Executive Director of the Komenka Ethnic Dance and Music Ensemble, Albinas and Manon Prizgintas, Musical Directors of the Trinity Artists Series, Sally Perry, Executive Director of New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) and these remarkable cultural organizations made space for Simion Gronic on their stages. (cf. www.apogeefoundation.org).

The result was a remarkable series of concerts in New Orleans featuring Simion Gronic playing the tender music of Moldova on a variety of native instruments as well as the trumpet. (The students of NOCCA, where Simion Gronic attended classes and performed during his visit, applauded him and screamed:  “Apogee, you’re awesome!” Moscow Nights was proud to facilitate the visit of Simion Gronic and his sister Simona, who accompanied him on the piano, here in New Orleans.

 

Vyacheslav Ganelin

vyacheslav ganelin

Vyacheslav Ganelin in the Birthplace of Jazz was the title given to an organized visit to New Orleans by Lithuanian/Israeli jazz pianist and composer Vyacheslav Ganelin, a visit sponsored the Newcomb Department of Music and Moscow Nights in 2001.  Ganelin, who began playing piano at the age of 4 and came to jazz some 13 years later, was the musical director of the Vilnius Russian Dramatic Theatre for almost two decades, composing music for both plays and films. He first came to be known by Western audiences when he and his trio played the West Berlin Jazz Festival in 1981; the Ganelin Trio, whose music is based on the “free jazz” of the 1960s, made a worldwide impact as one of the top avant-garde jazz ensembles in the years that followed.

Faina Lushtak of the Newcomb Department of Music and Moscow Nights organized concerts for the virtuoso at Tulane University and Snug Harbor; in addition, Ganelin presented master classes at the Newcomb Music Department. This visit was funded in part by the Louisiana Jewish Endowment.

To learn more and Vyacheslav Ganelin and his music, visit:

www.ganelin-music.com

 

~ In the Classroom ~

Alexander Pushkin

Alexander PushkinHow can a Russian culture make an impression on our youth unless we introduce that culture into the local school curriculum?

Knowing that making material relevant to the students is the key to their enjoying the literature, Moscow Nights sought to introduce local students to the works of Alexander Pushkin, the most famous of Russian writers who was the great grandson of an African slave. The connection was stronger than a mere bloodline -- the poet frequently expressed an interest in what he called “my Africa.”

In the fall semester of 2004, by special agreement with Dr. Clyde Robertson, Director of the Department of African and Multicultural Studies in the New Orleans City Schools, representatives of Moscow Nights began to meet regularly with the teachers of McMain Senior High School. Members of Moscow Nights presented lectures on various aspects of Pushkin’s work, suggesting avenues of instruction that might make Pushkin more accessible to McMain students. Dr. Samuel C. Ramer of Tulane University spoke on the many parallels that might be drawn between the St. Petersburg of Pushkin’s time and the New Orleans of the same era. Ms. Baty Landis spoke on the power of the musical tradition of both cities. Natasha Ramer discussed the potential involved in staging various small plays drawn from Pushkin’s work.

In the spring of 2005, Ms. Ramer worked with students and a talented local actor, Roscoe Reddix, in McMain Secondary School to stage a special composition adaptation for  students based upon Pushkin’s life. That year, we hoped to follow up on this program and to see whether Pushkin might not become a real source of inspiration for the students. However, our efforts in this regard were cut short by Hurricane Katrina. Both Ramer and Reddix still plan to continue to work together in order to resurrect this project. moscow nights

Another plan cut short by Katrina can trace its roots to Ms. Ramer’s trip to Moscow in 2004. In December of that year, Ms. Ramer met Ms. Natalia Yazykova, Director of Moscow Pushkin School # 353 and Drama teacher, Larisa Striganova.  These women introduced Ms. Ramer to the entire curriculum for Russian students and how it is structured around the life and work of Alexander Pushkin. In this school, for example, there is an annual Pushkinesque Ball where students master the manners and way of life of the Russian aristocracy of the time, learning these specific manners from Pushkin’s works. Moscow Nights’ goal is to bring American students who already learned about Pushkin to Moscow as special guests of Moscow Pushkin School.

 

Tulane Interdisciplinary Experience Seminars
(TIDES)

The Tulane Interdisciplinary Experience Seminar (TIDES) Program provides students the opportunity to make meaningful connections with a small group of students and some of our best faculty. Active learning, intellectual challenges, and social co-curricular activities define the TIDES experience.

 

In The Beginning ...
On Saturday November 22, 2008 "Moscow Nights" and Tulane University hosted a joint cultural and educational event. 

Professor Alexandra Raskina from the German and Slavic Department brought her TIDES-191 class for a field trip to the home of Natasha Ramer.

TIDES (Tulane Interdisciplinary Experience Seminars) is a program for Tulane freshmen through which students, in addition to working with their instructor, may meet others, both within the university and in the larger community, who may be able to offer a “real-life perspective” on the course topic.

moscow nights

New Orleans is renowned for its rich cultural ties to Africa, Asia, and Western Europe.   The Crescent City can also boast of a lesser-known but still considerable Russian presence. The Tulane Interdisciplinary Experience Seminar (TIDES) course “Soviet Comedy Movies (Reality Behind the Comedy)” taught by Professor Alexandra Raskina partners with Moscow Nights each fall to expand freshmen’s cultural foundation in New Orleans. TIDES students read articles concerning Russian culture, watch quintessential Russian films, and finally experience a joint Tulane-Moscow Nights cultural extravaganza at Moscow Nights Artistic Director Natasha Ramer’s home.

During the November 1st 2014 TIDES event, Moscow Nights was delighted to host two TIDES courses centered on Russian culture ~ in addition to Professor Raskina's "Soviet Comedy Movies", there was a new TIDES guest - "Taste of Russia" taught by Professor Lidia Zhigunova.  Moscow Nights volunteers prepared a spread of iconic cheese pies, a fruit tart, spice cookies and Russian Tea.

Svetlana Lonadier, a gifted Ukrainian musician and teacher, played the "Bayan" ~ a cousin to the accordion ~ the piano, and sang Russian folk songs for students.  Students became Russian balladeers themselves when Svetlana taught them a few songs and had them sing along!

Professor Alexandra (Sasha) Raskina added a personal touch when she recounted her childhood in Soviet Russia. TIDES students sat enraptured as Professor Raskina captured both the humor and the challenges of growing up in the political and social environment of mid-20thcentury Eastern Europe.

TIDES student Madeleine reflected, “The food was so good and I felt like I definitely absorbed some cool aspects of Russian culture.” Her classmate Kathryn wrote, “I especially liked Sasha Raskina's talk to us about growing up in Soviet Russia and her personal stories from her childhood-- those were enlightening and lots of fun. Ms. Sasha was such a great story teller! One of my favorite parts of the party was when we got to learn about Russian folk music and instruments. It really interested me to hear some of the songs that have been passed down for generations, and it was fun to get involved with some of the music we heard.”

Moscow Nights and TIDES were glad that another year of bright and curious students enjoyed their introduction to Russian culture. While we focus on Russia and Eastern Europe, we hope that we can encourage a greater curiosity about the cultures that reside in New Orleans and the rest of the world.

We feel incredibly privileged to have hosted several years of TIDES students and hope that their courses taught them to recognize the “reality behind the comedy” and gave them a “taste of Russia”, that sparked an idea to study, intern, work, or volunteer overseas  or just to explore their own community a little more widely.

If you are a past TIDES student, we’d love to know if your Russian cultural experience sent you down a new path! Email moscownightsus@gmail.com if you’d like to share any stories!

 

~ The Principals Of TIDES ~

 
Professor Raskina
Russian Studies
 
Professor Faina Lushtak
Master Pianist
 
Natasha O. Ramer
Artistic Director
 
Svetlana Lonadier
Music Instructor
 
Svetlana Horowitz
German ~ Slavic Scholar
 
Brian Horowitz
Chair: Slavic Studies Department Director: Jewish Studies
 
Dr. Alexander Wentzell
moscow nights

Our TIDES Photo Library
2009 ~ 2014

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© 2007 ~ Present Moscow Nights, Inc.