The Harriman-Jewell Series is in the midst of its 50th season. To celebrate this milestone, the program is welcoming the return of some of its most memorable performers from previous seasons and introducing a few new faces to the Kansas City stage.
“For this season we are bringing back some of the highlight performances that we’ve hosted over the last 50 years. Of the 20 performers for this season, about 11 or 12 of them are returning artists,” Melissa Carter, director of events and finance, said. “Whether they’ve been on the series before does not matter as much as their standing in the classical music world. Our audience trusts us enough to know that they should attend these performances, even if the artists are unknown.”
Since the Salomé Chamber Orchestra performance scheduled for Sept. 27 was cancelled, the season started with the National Acrobats of China Oct. 10. The most recent show on Oct. 24 featured a new guest from West Africa to the Series, the Senegal St. Joseph Gospel Choir. Now, the Series is anticipating the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson and starring violin soloist, Gil Shaham, Nov. 12.
The Series typically plans each season two years in advance. Currently, the 2015-16 season is being finalized and the 2016-17 season is beginning to be organized. Before scheduling an act, the directors of the Series attend conferences all over the United States, watching live performances of potential guests.
“As Clark Morris [Series executive and artist director] says, it’s better to see or hear artists in person than listening to them on recording, because those can be doctored,” Carter said. “You also get to see how the performers are onstage and how they interact with the audience.”
The venues for these performances vary between Helzberg Hall and the Muriel Kauffman Theatre at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts. Additionally, Folly Theatre and the College’s own Gano Hall host performances. The Folly Theatre typically presents Discovery Concerts, which are free performances of younger, lesser-known artists. Tickets for these shows can be printed from the Series’ website.
For all of the other non-Discovery Concert performances, patrons of the Series are comprised of the paying public, but Jewell students are eligible for free admission. Faculty and staff of the College can receive a special discount on prices, and even students from other colleges in the area can buy tickets for a $15 rush fee. Otherwise, anyone not associated with the College is able to purchase seats starting at the full price. For the sold out Yo-Yo Ma concert on Oct. 16, there were requests from as far as San Francisco, Texas and Arkansas.
“We would not be able to do what we do without the great donors who sponsor these performances. This Series is a benefit that most students [at other institutions] don’t have. It’s a unique opportunity to be able to see the best artists from around the world at no cost,” DeEtta Bohling, communications manager, said. “No matter what you already enjoy, this is the time to find out what else you like. You may decide to not attend a particular performance again, but at least you have a new appreciation for the art.”
Tickets are distributed during the week of the performance on Mondays in the Yates-Gill College Union at 10 A.M. If students are unable to attend this distribution period, they can give their college ID to another student in order to reserve a ticket. The student who owns the reserved ticket must then pick it up at the box office later that day.
The top sellers and the most popular performances of the season so far have been The King’s Singers, who will be playing their Holiday Concert on Sat., Dec. 20 at Folly Theater; cellist Yo-Yo Ma and accompanying pianist Kathryn Stott, who sold out their Oct. 16 show at Helzberg Hall; and pianist Emanuel Ax, who will be playing in Gano Chapel May 2.
“These performances are a really great thing. I wish that I had attended every single one when I was a student here,” Carter said. “There’s something that you can always learn from the artists and it sometimes makes you wonder how they’re even human.”
The remaining shows for the rest of the semester include the San Francisco Symphony Nov. 12, Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Mutter Virtuosi Nov. 16 at Helzberg Hall, Simon Trpčeski Nov. 22 at Folly Theater and the King’s Singers Holiday Concert Dec. 20 at Folly Theater. The Russian National Ballet Theatre will kick off 2015 with Giselle Jan. 18 at the Muriel Kauffman theatre.
For questions or more information on the upcoming performances, students can visit hjseries.org or download the free Harriman Jewell app on iTunes. The box office can be reached at 816-415-5025.