Three Great Orchestras, Three Great Conductors

Harriman-Jewell Series Brings Among World’s Best to Kauffman Center

One of the hallmarks of the Harriman-Jewell Series is its presentation of the world’s greatest orchestras. But next season, the Series is outdoing itself. Three major orchestras will appear in Kansas City, accompanied by their conductors along with highly acclaimed soloists.

On September 26, The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin will perform Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and violinist Lisa Batiashvili will be the soloist for Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.

Russian conductor Valery Gergiev returns on October 29 for his third appearance for the Series to conduct the Mariinsky Orchestra in music of Debussy and Mahler. Denis Matsuev will be the piano soloist for Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini.

On March 21, 2019, Michael Tilson Thomas, who is stepping down as conductor of the San Francisco Symphony in 2020, will bring his band to Kansas City one last time to perform music by Ravel and Sibelius. Violinist Christian Tetzlaff will join the orchestra for Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3.

How is the Harriman-Jewell Series able to attract three of the world’s finest orchestras in one season? Clark Morris, Executive Director for the Series, says it’s a convergence of a lot of good things.

“Part of it is our relationships within the cultural community,” Morris said. “We do have a reputation for bringing great orchestras, and that’s been true throughout our history. But what we have today is the opportunity to present these orchestras in one of the greatest halls, not just in the country but the world. The great conductors are taking notice and want to give their orchestras the chance to perform in Helzberg Hall.”

Nézet-Séguin is one of those conductors taking notice of Kansas City. In fact, he’ll be making two appearances on the Harriman-Jewell Series next season.

“We’re also presenting Yannick with Joyce DiDonato in recital on December 13, so we have double the opportunities to hear him both as pianist with Joyce, and as conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra.”

Gergiev was on the Harriman-Jewell Series last November conducting the Stradivarius Ensemble, made up of the string members of the Mariinsky Orchestra. It was a powerful performance, so one can only imagine the sound he’ll produce when he conducts the full-strength Mariinsky Orchestra.

“I had the opportunity to talk to Valery a little bit while he was here last year,” Morris said. “What struck me is that he’s not only a genius, but that he also wants talented young musicians to have the opportunities they deserve in order to have a great career in classical music. He’s a very generous soul. I was very impressed with him.”

Tilson Thomas will make his third appearance for the Harriman-Jewell Series and his last as conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, which he has led since 1995.

“The last time he was here in 2014, Kansas City had just played the World Series, so he was very playful with the crowd about the rivalry between the San Francisco Giants and the Royals,” Morris said. “He really has a great personality.”

For those who have never experienced the excitement of live orchestral classical music, Morris says that any of these three concerts would be an ideal introduction.

“Hearing one of the world’s great orchestras in a world-class hall is a fantastic experience,” Morris said. “In Helzberg Hall you don’t have to strain to hear the music. It is so pristine. You can hear a pin drop. You can just sit back and let the music envelop you. At times you’ll feel the vibration of the music, and it will actually physically move you. I believe you’re guaranteed to have a great experience.”

For tickets and more information, call 816-415-5025 or visit

–Patrick Neas

About The Author: Contributing Writer


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