Soon after the announcement of their 56th season, the Harriman-Jewell Series announced their decision to cancel many of the remaining performances of the 55th season due to the widespread outbreak of COVID-19.
Despite the last-minute challenges of reevaluating the status of remaining performances in the 55th season, Harriman Jewell employees acted quickly to resolve confusion around upcoming performances given these unexpected circumstances. Since Mayor Quinton Lucas issued a state of emergency for the Kansas City area, Harriman Jewell has issued an updated schedule for the remaining performances of the season: Performances by Daniil Trifonov, SooBeen Lee and the Boston Pops have been postponed; Angela Gheorghiu and Mitsuko Uchida have made the decision to cancel their tours; and Joyce DiDonato is anticipated to perform as originally scheduled.
Though the global pandemic has altered the outcome of Harriman Jewell’s 55th season, the upcoming 56th season presents even more opportunities to view world-class artists from September 2020 to May 2021. Not only does the 56th season bring new artists to Kansas City, the season has also expanded to accommodate more performances, which will still be free to all full-time William Jewell College students.
“We have been working on a self-study of the Harriman-Jewell Series in development of our strategic plan,” Executive and Artistic Director Clark Morris said. “One of the outcomes of that study is that we needed to expand our artistic offerings so that we could engage a wider audience.”
The 56th season also features a new package for subscribers of the series, the Inspire Series, allowing for a greater variety of new performances.
“The new package includes: Anthony Roth Constanzo, countertenor; the Brandon Goldberg Trio; the Dhamaal Dancers and Musicians of India; The Stuttgart Bach Akadamie performing Bach’s St. Matthew Passion; the King’s Singers; and Orquestra Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico with pianist Gabriela Montero,” said Morris. “ We think this is the most interesting, culturally rich and exciting arts series anyone in our region will be able to buy.”
The improvement and expansion of the series did not come without difficulty for employees at Harriman-Jewell. Morris detailed that the main struggles with expansion came in the form of trying to find the necessary resources and the ability to push themselves beyond typical practices. However, there have been many supporters that were able to help Harriman-Jewell in their efforts to expand.
“One of the blessings in this process was receiving a capacity building grant from the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation which encouraged us that we could build a greater series that would have a more engaging impact on our community,” Morris said.
While the 56th season has a lot in store for both subscribers and students, the expansion of the series does not change its traditional set up – it only brings more quality performances to the Kansas City arts scene.
“This season is very similar in quality to what we typically present and still has our well-loved packages of Music and Dance at the Kauffman Center and Masters, which is mostly at the Folly Theater,” Morris said. “It expands on that base with a new Inspire package which [will] add a variety of events that reach more broadly into the community and, we think, engage new audiences to attend H-JS performances. Our current audience members will likely enjoy a number of these performances as well, but we hope to attract new individuals who aren’t our current subscribers to be loyal audience members.”
Planning a season of this size and trying to appease both more traditional series goers and younger ones is a challenge. Morris states that expanding the season also brought complications in regard to scheduling.
“This has been an invigorating challenge artistically, but the biggest hurdle is scheduling, which is always a big puzzle,” Morris said. “Adding six additional performances to next season’s mix added a couple of degrees of difficulty in trying to solve that puzzle.”
With the promise of new selections for Jewell students, Morris encourages every student to take advantage of free tickets to performances brought to Kansas City by the 56th season of the Harriman Jewell Series.
“Every concert you can go to, so try and go to as many as possible,” Morris said. “I don’t pick favorites as a practice, and I would suggest that while you may not like every moment of every one of these offerings, you will be very happy that you got to experience it all, or as much as you can, for free.”