The Russian Speakers' Society was created for Austinites and guests of our city who came from
Russian-speaking countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia as well as for those who hold an
interest in the multiple cultures found in that area. The Society’s mission is to give Austin
audiences the chance to experience the art and music from distant shores by presenting programs
featuring composers and artists of Russian, Ukrainian, Eastern European, and Asian cultural
The organization welcomes all who are interested in the language, musical performances,
food, and cultural practices of Russian-speaking countries. The major activity conducted by the
Society is Russian Winter and Spring Fest concert series that include world-class performers
presenting classical, folk, and popular music originating from their respective cultures. The
Society has been holding these kinds of cultural events for almost two decades, with each year
seeing greater success.
The Russian Speakers Society works hard to present their audiences with a variety of local,
national, and international classically trained artists. A vast majority of these artists graduated
from the most prestigious Russian, European, Asian, and American schools and have performed,
worked, or studied worldwide.

The Russian Speakers Society does not represent the interests of any particular national government or their affiliated agencies.

The great Russian writer Lev Tolstoy said: "War is so unjust and ugly that all who wage it must try to stifle the voice of conscience within themselves." RSSA strongly condemns the act of aggression and violence that took place in Ukraine. We stand together with all countries of Eastern Europe for peace and democracy. 

Mikhail Smigelski

Artistic Director / Concert programming and management

Opera singer and music producer Mikhail Smigelski enjoys a career of vast and various genres. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, he has performed on the world's most prestigious stages and collaborated with multiple European and American opera and concert companies. In addition to his performance career, Dr. Smigelski works as Lecturer in Voice at The University of Texas at Austin, Music Director at The Woodlands Christian Church, and Music Director at Opera Leggera,



Luda Voskov

Executive Director / General management

Ludmila Voskov, an environmental scientist originally from St.Petersburg, Russia, is the founder of the Russian Speakers Society of Austin, which she started in January 2004 with a small group of enthusiasts. The RSSA is a non-profit educational organization created for Austinites and visitors of Austin who come from the former Soviet Union as well as for anybody with an interest in the region and its cultures.

Ludmila strives to bring a variety of musicians to Austin audiences, finding classically trained artists of local, national and international stature who also bring popular, classical, and folk heritage to their performances with the RSSA. From 2005 through 2022, Ludmila has organized 44 concerts and multimedia programs fusing poetry, literature, and music for the city of Austin and its Russian-speaking community. These productions are well-attended and succeed in pleasing their audiences.


Katerina Turikova Kempel

Website and media coordinator
Katerina Kempel, born in St. Petersburg, Russia, is a graphic designer, known writer and journalist for more than 20 years. After obtaining her bachelors degree in World History and Arts from Russian Christian Humanitarian Academy, she graduated with a master degree in graphic design from St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. Shortly after it Katerina moved to Austin, joining her family in Texas.
She worked as a journalist and currently is a member of editorial board of Our Texas newspaper in Houston, TX. She is an author of many fairy tales and short stories, and had many publications. She also served as a judge for different literature contests and competitions.
As a designer, Katerina works with multiply non-profits and cultural centers in Austin and Houston, TX, specializing in classical music concerts, art exhibitions, and literature evenings. Being fascinating with classical music, culture, and literature, she joined Russian Speakers Society in 2003, shortly after moving to Austin.
Katerina is married and raising a daughter, and she is excited of the opportunity to introduce her daughter to the rich history and cultural legacy of the Russian Speakers regions.


Rayhona Ahmedjanova

Board member / Concert co-management and support
Raihona Ahmedjanova, originally from Samarkand, Uzbekistan, began her musical journey in primary school, studying guitar and Ruhab performance and graduating from music school in 1976.

She has since participated in numerous musical competitions in Uzbekistan as a instrumentalist and vocalist. In addition to her accomplishments as a musician, she holds an MD as an OBGyn from the Samarkand Medical Institute.

Now based in Austin, Texas, she has been a very enthusiastic supporter of the RSSA's concert series for the last 10 years.


Shirley Qian Li

Board member / Event coordinator and support

A native of China, Shirley Li believes diversity, equity, and inclusion could foster a comfortable social space for all. Fascinated by Russian music, architecture, literature, and other art forms, she wants to help the Russian Speakers' Society of Austin unveil the beauty of Eastern European and Asian culture to more people. When not volunteering, Shirley is a full-time city planner who helps to build a more equitable physical environment for all.


Naira Winbigler

Board member/ Advertisement / Marketing

Naira Winbigler was born in Echmiadzin, Armenia — a City of Churches. At the age of four, she decided to become a cellist and got her first cello at age six. At eight years old Naira moved to Odessa, Ukraine, and began playing cello at a music school. During that time Naira realized she had an appreciation for classical music, especially Cello compositions.

Winbigler graduated with a Bachelors degree from Dunkevich School of Music in Odessa. In 1997 she moved to Austin, Texas and created a beautiful family. During that proud time, she obtained a second Bachelors Degree, but her love of classics never wavered. She spread her knowledge and love for music by teaching private lessons and schools.

Winbigler met Russian Speakers Society of Austin in 2013 and fell in love with its mission and goals. From that time she has become deeply involved in the beautiful organization and wishes to introduce it to every generation.




Maria Del Pilar Pavlova

Event support and coordination

Native of Mexico, soprano Maria Del Pilar Pavlova made her operatic debut at the Lenin Forum in Mexico City in 2012, performing as “Gianetta” in L’Elisir D’Amore by Gaetano Donizetti. With the Russian Speakers Society of Austin, she made her Austin Scottish Rite Theater debut in 2020 in Mussorgsky’s The Fair at Sorochyntsi. Since then, Maria del Pilar became an active participant in RSSA's events. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Opera Performance at the Univeristy of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music and loves performing music of the Russian - speaking countries.



Madeline Styskal

Board member/ Secretary

Madeline Styskal is a doctoral student in musicology at UT Austin. Her studies in Russia include ethnographic fieldwork in Irkutsk on a Fulbright-Hayes grant (2018) and a Fulbright ETA year at Voronezh State University (2018-19), during which she premiered her work It Was Purple at the Moscow Conservatory's Great Hall. She holds an M.M. in composition from the Butler School of Music, a post-grad certificate from the Moscow Conservatory under Vladimir Tarnopolsky (2019-20) and a B.M. in composition (2018) from the Moores School of Music. Her research interests include Eastern-European nationalism, Soviet classical and popular musics, and Soviet history.