Meet Board Member Steve Dodge

Meet New HMC Member Jordan Michels

Meet Legacy Member Eric Aufdengarten

Meet New Board Member Rich Barrett

Meet HeartLight Member Kim Budd

Meet Mark Plyler

Mark moved to Kansas City back in 2014, the same year he joined HMC. Music and singing have always been a part of his life and HMC was a way to jump into the community and meet new people. Mark is a Tenor 2 and one of his favorite things about the chorus is seeing it all come together during concert week. During a regular season, that equals three weeks a year. The excitement of the music, the production, lighting, sound, and audience reaction make for an amazing experience.

One of Mark’s jobs that he really loved, even after ten years, was tending bar at a Japanese restaurant. It may have made him a bit of a sushi snob, but eating raw fish hasn’t swayed him from the kitchen. He loves to cook and bake, which seems like a very common pastime for many chorus members.  He also is big into antiquing and collecting handmade pottery; both show artistic creativity. Mark is looking forward to one day attending live theater again, and if he won the lottery, he would probably give it all away. HMC would be one of the recipients, of course.

It can sometimes be difficult to accept yourself and as a Freshman in college, Mark decided to take that step. He wanted to be true to himself and it was the best decision he ever made. His hashtag, which hopefully many who read this can relate to, is #ProudToBeMe!

Meet Kevin Bradley

Originally from St. Joseph, MO, this week, let’s meet Kevin. Kevin joined during our ABBA concert in 2018; he is still a ‘newish’ member of the Bass section. He recently really earned his wings as part of a flight attendant duo in last years’ Making Spirit’s Bright holiday show. He’s also jumped in as a volunteer at the HMC Pride Dunk Tank, where he enjoys getting to know our audience and the community more.

A former music lesson child, Kevin wishes he had stuck with practicing and progressing. He saw HMC as a way to bring music back into his life and when a friend in the chorus heard him sing, he invited him to join. In addition to the performances, he is enjoying the fellowship with other members. The ability to meet new people, crack jokes with each other, and a welcome space to continue to grow as a singer.

Kevin accidentally came out his Senior year of High School, unfortunately, he also outed a friend at the same time. It made for a very uncomfortable graduation, but he’s been out ever since that mistake made while talking to friends. What isn’t a mistake is the hashtag he picked to describe himself, #SuperGeek.  Kevin loves science fiction and urban fantasy books and movies. When not listening to classic rock, perhaps while cooking and baking, he is proud to be a DC man over Marvel. This may cause some rivalries now that the word is out.

Meet Mike Anderson

It seems like Mike was pre-planning for some ‘isolation’ time since he was already part of an online community for amateur/dilettante Egyptologists – he’s learning to read hieroglyphs. This can come in handy reading some of the music we sing in HMC. He sang in college and when he decided to re-enter the singing world, joining Heartland Men’s Chorus seemed like a natural fit. Mike is finishing his 3rd year as a Baritone. He was looking for a group to sing with and found a place of excellence in musicianship and a community of camaraderie.

Mike loves making memories during performances but also finds fun and memory-making moments in chorus gatherings like the Holiday Potluck held each December. It was at a family meal event, Thanksgiving 1984, where he let his sexual orientation be known to his family. There was no announcement, nothing ‘official,’ just who he brought as his date. His Aunt Jean told him to bring someone, so he brought a man. While the rest of his family stood around in awkward silence, Aunt Jean hugged him and said, “You are welcome here anytime.”

Mike married that guy 31 years later in 2015, and they are still happily together. It is moments like Aunt Jean’s that guide families to acceptance and audiences like ours that open their hearts to the music we make and the voice we bring to Kansas City.

Meet Brian Larios

When Brian is not off camping or boating with his husband, he can be found in the Tenor 2 section of HMC.  Originally from Ottawa, KS he has been singing off and on with the chorus for about 6 years.  He had several friends who already sang, always enjoyed going to concerts and he loves to sing so it was a natural fit to become a member.  Joining has enabled Brian to be part of a movement to support people of all faiths, races and political perspectives.  A road trip for a joint concert with the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus in 2017 allowed him to deepen his friendships with other chorus members. Sharing that experience and being on a bus for that long will do that!

Brian’s support of the arts is evident by his involvement in HMC and many community theater productions.  From roles in The Music Man, Victor/Victoria and The Grand Hotel to Spamalot and The Addams Family, Brian still finds time to sing with HMC and perform in other fundraising benefits for local theaters.  When asked to use a hashtag to describe himself he said #insecure-extrovert.  That is something to think about as you get to know him and about all his community involvement.  It is not a surprise that if he won the lottery that he would provide donations to many KC Arts Organizations, HMC being one of them.  He would also provide a large chunk to other charities in need, help out his family and travel more to enjoy life.  

Meet Travis Zirkle

Travis, a Bass, is the HMC member that travels the farthest to come to rehearsals and other events. 424 miles round trip and 6 hours in the car provides a lot of time to listen to rehearsal tracks and prepare for upcoming concerts. You might ask, ‘Why does he travel that far?”  Travis was able to check out HMC back in 2016 after a change in his schedule. When he sang with HOA Men’s Chorus he participated in a joint concert with HMC and instantly could sense the quality of the music as well as the member camaraderie. He joined for 1 concert and is still actively engaged 4 years later. Travis stays because he likes being part of something much bigger, feels like he has grown musically and personally, he’s made a forever friend with his first cycle Concert Buddy, and the impact the chorus has on our members, the audience and our community.

One of his best HMC experiences was yet another road trip to the GALA Festival in Denver. Travis had been to GALA before as part of another singing group, but this time was different. His interaction and support from roommates, time on the bus getting to know fellow singers and the overall experience all provided time to make those connections that build the HMC family connection.

Music must be in his blood, however.  He once held a position as a Manager and Buyer at the iconic Tower Records in West Hollywood, CA.  Outside of work and HMC, Travis loves to travel and uses some of his time away to see other GALA choruses perform.  He is also interested in historical preservation and when not driving enjoys reading extensively.