July 9, 2019
“From Russia with Love, an Immigrant Family’s Musical Journey” is the name and rationale of the benefit concert spearheaded by the Khalikulov family for the Harmony Project Bay Area on July 13 in Congregation Sherith Israel.
The Khalikulov family immigrated to San Francisco from Tashkent, capital of the former Soviet state of Uzbekistan, in 1990. Vladimir, the father, has played viola in the Monterey Symphony since 1991, becoming principal in 1995; Lilia Zheltova, the mother, teaches piano at the Community Music Center; of the sons, Sergey attended the SF School of the Arts, and sang in many local musical productions; Misha is a composer and cellist. They all teach Harmony Project classes.
The family became a mainstay of the organization founded by SF Symphony violinist Seth Mausner and Jerry Pannone, retired music director of the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. Harmony Project is inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema program, which has inspired many similar organizations around the world.
Students participating in the program through high school attend college at twice the rate of peers from the same inner-city neighborhoods.
Harmony Project Bay Area provides high intensity after-school music education at no cost to low income families or the school. In 2016, HPBA became an affiliate of Harmony Project of America, which is led by the flagship program in Los Angeles, serving 3,000 children and recognized with three national awards as one of the most effective arts-based youth development programs in the nation.
The benefit concert includes works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Borodin, Rubinstein, and more. The performers are Sergey Khalikulov, voice; Jordan Amann, voice; Vladimir Khalikulov, violin and viola; Valerie Bengal, viola; Misha Khalikulov, cello; Evelyn Dimov (cousin), piano; Lilia Zheltova, piano and arrangements; Elise Kwon, piano and arrangements.
In addition to the joy of learning an instrument and appreciating quality music, says the concert announcement, HPBA strives to improve students’ skills for academic and life success, such as problem solving, creative thinking, focus, and collaboration. These benefits are achieved through concentrated effort to master an instrument, belonging to a positive community (the orchestra), working towards shared goals (performances), and striving for excellence.
Copresenting the concert with HPBA is the Claude Heater Foundation, which came to prominence with an acclaimed production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, in addition to its many projects to nurture, encourage, and support dramatic operatic voices, classical musicians, and artists through developmental, educational, and professional-level performance opportunities.
The foundation’s next presentation will be a concert version of Verdi’s Nabucco with orchestra and chorus, on Oct. 20, in Congregation Sherith Israel.