Harriman-Jewell Series to Present Three Great Orchestras and Great Stars

Yannick Nézet-Séguin will lead The Philadelphia Orchestra in Kauffman Center’s Helzberg Hall to open the Harriman-Jewell Series’ 54th Season in September, and will return in December to play piano in recital with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato at the Folly Theater.

Helzberg Hall has changed everything. When the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opened in 2011, it didn’t take long for word to spread that Kansas City has one of the most acoustically superb performance venues in the United States.

The 2018‒2019 season of the Harriman-Jewell Series reflects Kansas City’s rising profile as an arts center. Next season, the Series will present more great orchestras and conductors than ever before, as well as some of the biggest names in classical music, like Itzhak Perlman and hometown favorite Joyce DiDonato.

Three great orchestras and their music directors are coming next year: Yannick Nézet-Ségin and The Philadelphia Orchestra, Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony.

“The very best music directors in the world want to have their orchestras perform here,” Clark Morris, executive and artistic director of the Harriman-Jewell Series said. “In the past, we might have been offered an orchestra, but not with its primary conductor or primary music director. It’s still special, but not quite as special as having the music director of the ensemble too.”

Nézet-Séguin is one of the most exciting figures in classical music right now. In addition to leading The Philadelphia Orchestra, in 2020 he will become music director of the Metropolitan Opera. The 42-year-old Montréal native is appearing twice next season on the Series.

“We’ll get to see this new superstar of the conducting world not just on the podium with baton in hand, but also at the piano accompanying our local star, Joyce DiDonato,” Morris said.

It was also recently announced that, in 2020, Tilson Thomas, who has appeared two times on the Harriman-Jewell Series will step down as music director of the San Francisco Symphony, so this will be his last national tour with the orchestra. He is currently in his 23rd season leading the San Francisco Symphony, making him the longest-tenured music director of any major American orchestra.

Other returning favorites include pianist Emanuel Ax, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with pianist Jeremy Denk, and violinist Itzhak Perlman. In past recitals, Perlman’s encores have been a huge hit with the audience, in part because the violinist displays a puckish wit and reveals his warm, personal side. Morris says that audiences will get to know Perlman even better on next season’s recital.

“It’s called ‘An Evening with Itzhak Perlman,’ and that’s intentional because it is more of a curated evening and not a typical recital performance,” Morris said.

Morris says the recital will consist of shorter works interspersed with narration and theatrics with Perlman talking to the audience throughout the concert.

“People will get to know more about the man behind the artistry,” Morris said.

The season’s dance offerings will explore two different worlds. Ballet Folklórico de México will present traditional dance with colorful costumes and music, and the Russian National Ballet will perform Swan Lake in the Russian Imperial style.

Artists new to the Series and to Kansas City include the Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili and tenThing brass ensemble, an all-female ensemble founded by Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth.

“I’m personally very excited about this season,” Morris said. “It’s a great time to be living in Kansas City.”

For tickets and more information, call 816-415-5025 or visit hjseries.org.

 2018‒2019 Harriman-Jewell Series Season:

September 26: The Philadelphia Orchestra led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin; Lisa Batiashvili, violinist (Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd.)

October 29: Mariinsky Orchestra led by Valery Gergiev; Denis Matsuev, pianist (Helzberg Hall)

November 3: Ballet Folklórico de México (Helzberg Hall)

December 13: Joyce DiDonato and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, mezzo-soprano and pianist in recital (Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St.)

January 24, 2019: Swan Lake danced by Russian National Ballet (Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd.)

March 2, 2019: Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; Jeremy Denk, pianist (Folly Theater)

March 16, 2019: Emanuel Ax, pianist in recital (Folly Theater)

March 21, 2019: San Francisco Symphony led by Michael Tilson Thomas; Christian Tetzlaff, violinist (Helzberg Hall)

April 7, 2019: tenThing, brass ensemble (Helzberg Hall)

April 14, 2019: Khatia Buniatishvili, pianist in recital (Folly Theater)

May 11, 2019: An Evening with Itzhak Perlman, violinist; Rohan De Silva, pianist (Helzberg Hall)

Helzberg Hall will ring when the all-female, ten-member brass ensemble tenThing plays its Kansas City debut in April 2019.

{ written by Patrick Neas }