November will feature renowned musicians from England, Spain, Russia and our own backyard
Gray skies and chilly weather cause some people to see November as a dreary month. But the Harriman-Jewell Series has lined up three concerts to brighten November and give it a festive flair. One of the world’s most popular vocal ensembles will celebrate its 50th anniversary, there’s a free Discovery Concert with an outstanding young cellist, and a legendary Russian conductor will lead a concert featuring two piano superstars.
In 1968, six choral scholars from King’s College, Cambridge, formed an a cappella ensemble to sing everything from Renaissance polyphony to quirky arrangements of Beatles tunes. The King’s Singers, which has appeared many times on the Harriman-Jewell Series, will bring its 50th Anniversary Gold Standard Tour to the Folly Theater on Nov. 11.
Over the years, members of the King’s Singers have come and gone, but the group always maintains its high musicianship and repertoire of crowd-pleasing favorites. The Gold Standard concert will include the hits that have made the King’s Singers enduring favorites.
Spanish cellist Pablo Ferrández, 26, is poised to become the Pablo Casals of his generation. He’s rapidly gaining a following in Europe, and the Harriman-Jewell Series will introduce him to Kansas City on a free Discovery Concert, Nov. 17 at the Folly.
Ferrández, who began playing cello at the age of three, was given lessons by his father, a cellist with the Spanish National Orchestra. His innate talent and hard work led to a scholarship from the Pablo Casals Foundation, as well as prizes from many prestigious cello competitions. He is the first cellist to be loaned a Stradivarius from the Nippon Music Foundation. The cello is one of the oldest Strads in the world, dating from 1696, and was played by Gregor Piatigorsky and owned by Janos Starker.
Speaking of Stradivarius, on Nov. 7, Valery Gergiev will conduct the Stradivarius Ensemble of the Mariinsky
Orchestra at the Kauffman Center’s Helzberg Hall. Gergiev is a dynamo and any concert which he conducts is a must-attend event. But the Harriman-Jewell Series has arranged to make his appearance in Kansas City even more memorable.
Stanislav Ioudenitch, Van Cliburn Piano Competition gold medalist and founder of Park University’s International Center for Music, and his former student, London International Piano Competition-winner Behzod Abduraimov, will join the Stradivarius Ensemble to perform Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos.
In the past few years, both Ioudenitch and Abduraimov have become friends and colleagues of Gergiev. Ioudenitch recalled meeting the Russian conductor.
“I was in St. Petersburg and some friends introduced me to Valery Gergiev after one of his big concerts,” Ioudenitch said. “We were having dinner very late, around 1 o’clock in the morning. At one point he suddenly turned to me and said, ‘Have you heard of this boy everybody is talking about?’ I said, ‘Who?’ and he said, ‘Abduraimov.’ I said, ‘Oh, yes, Behzod happens to be my student.’”
In 2013, while Gergiev was in the U.S. conducting the Metropolitan Opera, he called Abduraimov and invited him to a party in New York.
“I went and he asked me to play in front of 70 of his friends,” Abduraimov said. “People like Anna Netrebko and all of the elite people of New York City were there. So I played some Chopin and Saint-Saëns and three months later Valery invited me to play with him in St. Petersburg.”
Since that time, Gergiev and Abduraimov have performed 45 to 50 concerts around the world with the Mariinsky Orchestra. It was only natural that when Gergiev visited Abduraimov and Ioudenitch’s adopted hometown, he made them part of the concert. Ioudenitch and Abduraimov are well known for playing finger-busting Russian concertos, but they’re looking forward to the delicate but no less demanding Concerto for Two Pianos by Mozart.
“It’s huge fun to play,” Ioudenitch said. “It’s really a conversation between two pianists. The pianists are speaking to each other.”
Abduraimov adds that “the second movement is wonderful and the third movement is brilliant, with the orchestra trying to keep up with the pianos.”
For tickets or more information, call 816-415-5025 or visit www.hjseries.org.