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October 15, 2018:

From two brothers starting cello together, a teaching artist with a Harmony Project journey, and five years in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week’s blog features PRESTO Cohort Member, Harmony Project Tulsa, with stories from Executive Director, Kathy Rad.

About Harmony Project Tulsa:

Mission: The primary aim of Harmony Project Tulsa is to build responsible, productive, caring citizens, while using music as a means of positive development and social inclusion.

Number of Students Served: 100

Ages of Students Served: Pre-K through high school

Number of Sites: 3

About Kathy Rad, Executive Director of Harmony Project Tulsa


Kathy Rad has been teaching orchestra students in the Greater Tulsa Area for 25 years. Rad’s devotion to sharing the joy of music with others has earned her the Bart Betow Memorial Education Award given by the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, and the United States Army’s third highest award, the Superior Civilian Award. In 2014, Rad took the lead in creating the Tulsa affiliate of Harmony Project America, and saw the program through to its current iteration/status as a non-profit independent organization. While serving as HPT’s Executive Director, Rad is also a Master Teaching Artist. Additionally, Rad teaches orchestra at Will Rogers College High and Junior High School, performs with the Tulsa Symphony, Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Opera, and Tulsa Rock Quartet. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.

Interview with Kathy

When did Harmony Project Tulsa start programming this year? What has been the most exciting part of your program’s start?

We started programming at Kendall Whittier on September 11, 2018. The most exciting part of our program’s start was the addition of so many new teachers and volunteers. The best part for me was starting 2 brothers on cellos – one half-size and one-quarter size. Watching the excitement in their eyes was priceless!

What are you most looking forward to this year for Harmony Project Tulsa?

To grow and reach more students and families. Harmony Project Tulsa is so happy to begin our 5th year of giving music and changing lives!!

What are you most excited about in your first year in the PRESTO Cohort?

Working with my PRESTO mentor, Monique Van Willingh, she is AWESOME and so helpful!


Teaching Artist Spotlight: Michael Nicholson


Michael Nicholson has been teaching Violin with Harmony Project Tulsa for 4 years. However, this is not Michael’s first introduction to El Sistema-inspired work or Harmony Project.

About Michael:

Michael Nicholson gave his life over to music and the violin at the age of thirteen and has since performed in chamber ensembles, orchestras, and as a soloist throughout the United States and Italy. Currently, Nicholson is Principal Second Violin for Tulsa Symphony, Tulsa Ballet, performs with Tulsa Opera, and is also a founding member of Tulsa Rock Quartet. Possessing a deep passion for teaching, Mister Michael (as he’s commonly referred) has dedicated his life to his students. Nicholson was one of the first violin teachers in the early stages of Harmony Project L.A., and now he is serving as Harmony Project Tulsa’s Project Manager after joining the program in 2014 as a Master Teacher Artist. Nicholson is also conductor of the Tulsa Youth Symphony Preparatory Orchestra.

From Kathy Rad:

Michael started teaching in LA with the very first Harmony Project. He has come full circle and is now teaching with us in Tulsa. Michael is an incredible professional violinist and one of the very best violin teachers in Oklahoma. It is so great to have someone of his professional caliber, who cares so very much about our students, share his awesomeness with all of his violin students in Harmony Project Tulsa.

Harmony Project Tulsa In The News!

From Tulsa World, As schools cut arts, Harmony Project brings music education to at-risk Tulsa children


In the Fall of 2018, El Sistema USA launched a 3-year, $1 million-dollar investment into 13 organizations in 11 states across the country to bring free music education to underserved youth. The Program for Rising El Sistema Organizations (PRESTO) is a significant financial investment to support organizational growth and capacity development, and also provides professional development and mentorship resources investing in organizational leadership. You can learn more about PRESTO here.

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