Harriman-Jewell Series to Welcome Back the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Conductor Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra had some big- league competition when they performed in Kansas City in 2015. The same evening as their concert, the Kansas City Royals were playing the first game of the World Series that they ultimately won. But Royals mania did not deter a sell-out crowd from packing Kauffman Center’s Helzberg Hall to hear a riveting concert of Beethoven and Mahler. After the ecstatic cheers died down, Muti addressed the audience, assuring them that he and his orchestra would return.
Kansas City music lovers will be delighted to know that the orchestra is, indeed, returning.
The Harriman-Jewell Series will present the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Muti on Oct. 11 in Helzberg Hall. The concert will include a popular overture by Gioacchino Rossini, a new work written by one of the orchestra’s composers in residence and Anton Bruckner’s monumental Symphony No. 4 “Romantic.” It’s certain to become one of the most memorable concerts of the year.
The 75-year-old Muti has one of the most distinguished careers in classical music. Prior to being named music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2008, he led the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Orchestra of La Scala, as well as many other international orchestras. His many honors include being awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He is also the recipient of countless honorary degrees from universities around the world.
“Riccardo Muti has this almost intimidating reputation because of the aura around the great maestros,” said Clark Morris, executive and artistic director of the Harriman-Jewell Series. “People talk about him in reverent tones. I found him warm, exciting and gentle and he gave me a big hug backstage. He said he wanted to come back and that he was just in love with the hall.”
Morris says that touring orchestras often provide arts presenters a selection of possible programs from which to choose, but Muti offers only one possible program. For his upcoming concert, you couldn’t ask for anything better.
The program will open with an audience favorite, the “William Tell” Overture. Rossini’s opera about the Swiss hero who famously shot an apple off his son’s head with an arrow is rarely performed nowadays, but the overture, made famous as the theme for “The Lone Ranger,” is one of the most familiar pieces of classical music.
After that rousing curtain-raiser, the orchestra will perform a brand-new work, “All These Lighted Things,” by Elizabeth Ogonek, whose music has been described by the Arts Desk website as “lush and enticingly scored.”
The second half of the concert will be devoted to Bruckner’s expansive Symphony No. 4, “Romantic,” one of the greatest symphonies ever written and one rarely performed in Kansas City.
Composer Anton Bruckner was a shy and awkward man. Some of his contemporaries even considered him a country bumpkin. But his symphonies are some of the most daring works of the 19th century. The fourth symphony is a perfect example of Bruckner’s architectural, cathedral-like music, its mystical sound inspired by Bruckner’s years as an organist at St. Florian monastery in Linz, Austria.
Luckily, the symphony work will be performed in the acoustically superb Helzberg Hall, which will show off every lustrous detail of Bruckner’s majestic work.
“One of the things that struck me about the CSO’s last concert in Helzberg Hall was that their pianissimos were incredibly quiet and refined, and yet there was this amazing intensity to them,” Morris said. “This is a compliment to the orchestra and to a hall which can support that level of finesse and exacting detail. Bruckner’s Fourth is a complex but beautiful work. There’s a lot of depth to it, and to hear it in Helzberg Hall will be very rewarding for our audience.”
For more information, call 816-415-5025 or visit www.hjseries.org.