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After bringing 1,000 performances to Kansas City, the Harriman-Jewell Series is ready for more

A chapel is framed by an American flag on the right and another building on the left.
William Jewell College
The first Harriman-Jewell Series performance took place at Gano Chapel on the William Jewell College campus in 1965.

Since its founding in 1965, the Harriman-Jewell Series has brought extraordinary performing artists from around the world to Kansas City stages. Learn more about the Series' humble beginnings ahead of its 1,000th performance on January 7.

The Harriman-Jewell Series will celebrate 1,000 performances with an appearance from soprano Pretty Yende at the Folly Theater on Saturday, January 7.

The Series has become a well known standard bearer, bringing world-renowned artists and ensembles to Kansas City stages for 58 seasons.

But what is lesser known is its origin story.

Richard Harriman
Harriman-Jewell Series
Richard Harriman

"The Series got started at William Jewell College because of two English professors — neither of whom had studied music or the arts, but they both loved the arts and loved music —and [they] wanted something more for the college, its students and the community," says executive and artistic director Clark Morris.

Those two professors, Richard Harriman and Dean Dunham, started with two small performances in 1965, which quickly grew into the institution we know today as the Harriman-Jewell Series.

Morris has been to nearly 600 of the 1,000 total performances, and from the beginning he knew this was going to be special for him.

Harriman-Jewell Series' executive and artistic director, Clark Morris.
Harriman-Jewell Series
Harriman-Jewell Series' executive and artistic director, Clark Morris.

"I can remember sitting at the Folly Theater, hearing the Academy of Ancient Music play Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' and of course I'd heard a recording [of that work] before, but never had experienced it live. It was such incredible artistry that my mind was blown."

As Morris graduated from William Jewell College, he had an opportunity to step into a leadership role at the Harriman-Jewell series, and work closely with co-founder Richard Harriman.

Since the beginning — and including Clark’s 30+ years at the helm — the series has worked to keep up with the changing landscape of classical music, and with changing audience preferences.

"It's not perfect. There are things that we need to work on as a community, but I think one of the things that we do well is we have a handle on how [we can] provide accessibility to great culture at a good price."

Listen to our interview with Clark Morris above to learn more about the Harriman-Jewell Series' origins and future.

You can learn more about the Harriman-Jewell Series at

Brooke Knoll is the digital audience specialist and afternoon host for Classical KC. You can reach her at
Sam Wisman is a Senior Producer for 91.9 Classical KC and a backup announcer for KCUR 89.3. Email him at