Seasonal winds of change herald dazzling new season of performing arts.
The brisk autumn breezes traditionally usher in a season of reinvigoration in Kansas City’s performing arts scene, and the fall events of the Harriman-Jewell Series’ 51st season affirm that a memorable new season is getting underway.
“We feel that we set a new standard of excellence with the performances on our golden anniversary season,” said Clark Morris, Harriman-Jewell Series executive and artistic director. “But I believe that we’ve risen to the challenge of matching that level of excellence with the events to come for the beginning of our second half century.”
Perennial audience favorites Itzhak Perlman, a virtuoso violinist, and Emanuel Ax, a world-class pianist, combine their talents for a duo recital to open the season on September 8 in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Art’s Helzberg Hall. The New York Times recently saluted Perlman’s artistry with these words of praise: “Mr. Perlman’s signature sound, firm and glossy, with a bighearted vibrato, is still there…. His dazzling bow technique continues to be a marvel.” The Times also hailed Ax’s work in a recent recital at Carnegie Hall, calling it “splendidly played” and “a sublime performance.”
Both critics and audiences can’t seem to get enough of Broadway’s reigning musical theatre star, Audra McDonald, who has been awarded a record-setting six Tonys for her stage performances. Kansas Citians can get a taste of what the Great White Way has come to know and love when McDonald brings her concert tour to Helzberg Hall on September 26. McDonald also has her sights set on conquering the worlds of television and film, with frequent TV-series appearances and PBS specials, and a featured role in Disney’s upcoming live-action film adaptation of its animated movie and Broadway musical hit “Beauty and the Beast,” which is due in theatres for the holidays in 2016.
Performing artists whose stars are ascending will take center stage when the Metropolitan Opera Rising Stars Concert Series is the featured attraction at the historic Folly Theater on October 17. Acclaimed pianist Brian Zeger, who serves as executive director of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, will introduce the best young voices of the Met. The famed opera company has served historically as the launching pad for opera stars of the future. Some of today’s leading artists got their first big break by winning the company’s national auditions or as members of the young artist program. Stephanie Blythe, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Deborah Voigt, Thomas Hampson and Mariusz Kwiecien are some of the major artists who have risen through the Met ranks.
Broadway audiences have also been cheering the current revival of “On the Town,” the classic musical inspired by choreographer Jerome Robbins’ “Fancy Free.” Robbins’ master work about sailors on leave on the streets of World War II-era New York will be in the spotlight when the Stars of American Ballet bring their acclaimed artistry to the Kauffman Center’s Muriel Kauffman Theatre on October 23. The company is composed of principal dancers from New York City Ballet and other elite American companies.
The revered Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of maestro Riccardo Muti, brings its celebrated sound to Helzberg Hall on October 27. Since Muti was named conductor in 2010, the orchestra has won two Grammys for its inspired recording of Verdi’s Requiem, claiming the prizes for both Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance (with the Chicago Symphony Chorus) in 2011. The Chicago Symphony also can be heard performing composer John Williams’ score for Steven Spielberg’s film “Lincoln” in 2012.
Also on tap for the Harriman-Jewell Series’ glittering fall season are a return engagement by the Compañia Flamenca with José Porcel performing Flamenco Fire (October 2, Folly Theater); the Krasnoyarsk National Dance Company of Siberia (October 9, Helzberg Hall); rising pianist Daniela Liebman in a free Discovery Concert (October 30, Folly Theater); and a special pre-holiday performance by the world-renowned Vienna Boys Choir (November 20, Folly Theater).
To buy tickets or for more information about the Harriman-Jewell Series 2015-16 season, go to hjseries.org or call 816-415-5025.