From Beethoven to The Beatles

Famed Violinist and Dance Company to Celebrate Big Anniversaries on KC Stages

The Harriman-Jewell Series will have a little help from good friends to usher in the New Year. Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, a Series favorite since 2008, will be joined by her longtime collaborator, pianist Lambert Orkis, for an all-Beethoven program on Jan. 21 at the Folly Theater, and on Feb. 8, the Mark Morris Dance Group brings its eye-popping Beatles tribute, Pepperland, to the Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

“It sounds cliché, but Anne-Sophie Mutter is one of the greatest violinists of our time,” said Clark Morris, executive and artistic director of the Harriman-Jewell Series. “In America, we’re most familiar with icons like Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell, but for Europe, I think Anne-Sophie Mutter would be at the top of the list.”

Mutter was a sensation from the beginning of her career in 1977, when the 13-year-old played Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Herbert von Karajan. Karajan would go on to champion Mutter in the early years of her career.

“Her playing just seems to be at the very pinnacle of what’s possible,” Morris said. “She certainly has great technical skill, but it’s not just that. She’s a virtuoso; you sense she’s so connected to the music. If you want to hear something played the way it ought to be played, you want Anne-Sophie Mutter playing it.”

Through her appearances on the Harriman-Jewell Series, Clark Morris has come to know Mutter not only as performer on stage, but also as a person.

“I’m an admirer,” Morris said. “She’s very easy to talk to, very thoughtful. One of the most revealing performances we had with her was when she brought her academy of young, aspiring violinists. They were fantastic. It was clear that she cares so much about the art form and supporting younger musicians. She was really trying to provide a great educational experience and opportunities for them. Anne-Sophie is a very nurturing person.”

Mutter’s January performance, her fourth appearance on the Harriman-Jewell Series, will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven. Her recital will feature three of Beethoven’s violin sonatas, including the well-known “Kreutzer” and “Spring” sonatas.

“We were looking for some way to celebrate Beethoven’s anniversary this year, and it’s really special to get to work with Anne-Sophie because of her renowned Beethoven interpretations,” Morris said. “I think it’s going to be one of those programs that anyone will love and that many will deeply appreciate.”

Choreographer Mark Morris is another artist with deep connections to the Harriman-Jewell Series. His company, Mark Morris Dance Group, will perform its acclaimed, Beatles-inspired Pepperland. The city of Liverpool commissioned the work to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Morris’ colorful evocation of 1960s swinging London has already captivated audiences in Great Britain and America. The Guardian (U.K.) named Pepperland one of the top-ten dance shows of 2017, and the Los Angeles Times called it “utterly musical, entirely unexpected . . . dazzling.”

“One of the things I love about Mark Morris performances is that they always dance to live music,” Clark Morris said. “This project is very special because there’s new music that’s been written in the style of The Beatles, and some mash-ups with the famous Beatles tunes. I think it’s going to be nostalgic, creative, colorful and just a lot of fun.”

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

–Patrick Neas

About The Author: Contributing Writer

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