Filharmonie Brno conducted by Dennis Russell Davies

World’s Greatest Orchestras Return After Pandemic Absence

Although the Harriman-Jewell Series returned to somewhat normal this past season, one thing was missing.

The stringent travel restrictions caused by the COVID pandemic prevented the Series from presenting the world-renowned orchestras, which have always been one of its hallmarks. But with the pandemic easing, the 2022-2023 season will feature four of them.

The São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with violinist Nicola Benedetti, Filharmonie Brno conducted by Dennis Russell Davies with vocalist and violinist Laurie Anderson and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti with violinist Julia Fischer will all make appearances.

“While we’ve had some very significant artists this year and terrific presentations, we were missing the large orchestral sound and the spectacle of larger events,” said Clark Morris, executive and artistic director of the Harriman-Jewell Series.

October 10 will mark the first time the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra or Marin Alsop appear on the series.

“Marin has never been presented in Kansas City, and that’s a major miss,” Morris said. “She is maybe the most famous female conductor in the world.”

Alsop is a pioneer in what had been the male-dominated world of classical music. Like Anne Manson, who became conductor of the Kansas City Symphony in 1999, Alsop was one of the first women to lead an American orchestra. In 2007, she was named music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to the Baltimore Symphony, Alsop has been principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and has guest conducted a multitude of other orchestras, like the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. She is currently music director of the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra.

Her program in Kansas City will feature the music of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, including selections from his “Bachianas brasileiras No. 4” and his Harmonica Concerto. The centerpiece of the concert is Rimsky-Korsakov’s lush “Scheherazade.”

Violinist Nicola Benedetti made her first Kansas City appearance on a Harriman-Jewell Discovery Concert and has since become a classical music superstar. She’ll solo with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on October 22.

“She is one of the brightest violin stars in the world today,” Morris said. “She’s like Joshua Bell and Itzhak Perlman, at the top of her game, and recognized around the world for her musicianship and personality. She’s just terrific.”

Benedetti will perform Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Also on the program, appropriately enough, is Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony.

On February 18, 2023, the Series will present Filharmonie Brno and performance art icon Laurie Anderson in Anderson’s “Songs for Amelia Earhart,” a work inspired by the legendary aviator from Atchison, Kansas.

Dennis Russell Davies, conductor of Filharmonie Brno

“It’s an orchestral work that includes violin solos but also readings from Amelia Earhart’s notes and recordings to tell her story,” Morris said. “It’s a fascinating work. When Filharmonie Brno did this program in Brno, they had to add extra concerts because it sold out multiple nights it was so popular.”

This great Czech orchestra will also perform works by two great Czech composers: Dvořák’s “Othello Overture” and Martinu’s “Thunderbolt P-47,” his tribute to the American fighter plane that helped win World War II.

Riccardo Muti will make his fourth appearance on the series February 26, when he’ll lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s romantic and turbulent “Manfred” Symphony. Guest artist, violinist Julia Fischer, will perform Robert Schumann’s Violin Concerto.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti and violinist Julia Fishcher. (photo by Todd Rosenberg)

“They’ll use the Casavant organ in Helzberg Hall with the “Manfred” Symphony. This will be the first chance for us to present an orchestra that will use the organ on the Harriman-Jewell Series. We’re really excited about that.”

For tickets and a complete listing of all concerts, go to

–Patrick Neas

Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra with Marin Alsop, conductor (Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts)

Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Nicola Benedetti, violin (Helzberg Hall)

Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. Filharmonie Brno with Dennis Russell Davies, conductor, and Laurie Anderson, soloist (Helzberg Hall)

Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti and violinist Julia Fischer (Helzberg Hall)

CategoriesArts Consortium

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