Now’s Your Chance to Join or Come Back to the HMCKC Singing Family!

HMCKC alumni singers!
Have you missed singing and performing?
Missed the fellowship and connection?
The participation in part of a beautiful legacy and a new evolved mission and vision?
Now’s your chance to come back to the HMCKC singing family!

Sign up below for your returning singer voice check for 8/24 or 8/31 with the LINK BELOW or join us for an open rehearsal on September 7th and/or September 14th at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral- Founder’s Hall from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Returning singer voice checks will be held after open rehearsals and will include the same voice checks occurring on 8/24 and 8/31.

Schedule your audition here:
https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090C49ACAB2DA4FC1-heartland

HMCKC is committed to the health and safety of our singers and we do require proof of COVID-19 vaccination prior to participation. Please bring a digital copy or paper copy of your proof of vaccination and a mask to your voice check and/or open rehearsal.

VOICE CHECK REMINDERS
Please be prepared to sing a song of your choice or a simple traditional song like Amazing Grace, America the Beautiful, etc. If you choose an excerpt on your own, please bring sheet music with the excerpt marked for our accompanist. We will do a quick and painless check for matching pitch, hearing and singing harmony, call and response aural recall, assess your level of music reading, and a vocal range check.

Questions? Visit www.hmckc.org or contact Artistic Director Shawn Cullen, at shawncullen@gmail.com.

HMCKC Announces Enhanced Safety Measures For All Members

For 36 seasons the Heartland Men’s Chorus has entertained audiences in Kansas City. In the last year, all performances moved online because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, but we are planning for in-person performances for this new season.

HMCKC is committed to our singers’ health and safety, and we do require proof of COVID-19 vaccination prior to participation for all singers and non-singing members of the chorus.

“It’s been far too long since we’ve been able to make music, create fellowship, and deliver our message of love and acceptance! The health and safety of our singing members remains our first priority and we’ll stay hyper-vigilant until we pass through this moment of our legacy. Embrace the newness of today’s world with new ways to invite joy into your life- join us!” says Shawn Cullen, Artistic Director and Conductor of the chorus. 

Heartland Men’s Chorus is utilizing enhanced safety measures for Season 36 including the wearing of masks, indoor social distanced small ensemble singing, the use of outdoor rehearsal spaces, reduced contact rehearsal protocols, truncated rehearsal times, and the use of proper HVAC air filtration in rehearsal and performance spaces. All HMCKC members are now required to show proof of being fully vaccinated with a paper or digital copy of their COVID-19 vaccination card. 

The Heartland Men’s Chorus plans three in-person concerts for Season 36, starting with our annual holiday concert, Joy, scheduled at the Folly Theater on December 4th and 5th. 

Heartland Men’s Chorus’ New Vision, New Mission, & New Look

M E D I A   A D V I S O R Y 

For Immediate Distribution    July 15, 2020

 

Media Contact:

Rick Fisher, Executive Director

Heartland Men’s Chorus

hmc@hmckc.org

(816) 931-3338

www.hmckc.org

 

Heartland Men’s Chorus’ New Vision, New Mission, & New Look

With Singing On Hold, HMC Keeps Focused on Its Future

 

KANSAS CITY, MO – As a nonprofit founded during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Heartland Men’s Chorus is using the current pandemic to focus on its future. A planning committee made up of HMC board members, staff, and singers started on a new vision, mission, and branding in late 2019. “The continuity we had as a branding team, respecting the history and meaning of the organization to its stakeholders, while also looking ahead, created a seamless and constructive

ideation and design process that had energy and momentum,” says Matt Schulte, HMC Board Member.

 

NEW VISION: “Singing to inspire a world of love and acceptance.”

“It feels very “infinity and beyond” to me, and it leads with “singing” as that is our #1 calling as a chorus,” says Stefan White, HMC Board Member and singer.

 

NEW MISSION: “To build community, celebrate pride, and empower authenticity.”

Brandon Shelton, a longtime member, started singing with the Chorus in 2005. He is currently the HMC Design Manager and he was also hired to create the new icon and look. “Having worked professionally for 20+ years developing and steering major brands throughout the world, I was honored to be asked to join the committee responsible for the overhaul of HMC’s brand – two of my greatest passions colliding before me in a golden opportunity I could not pass up. In creating the new brand, it was very important to me that we respect and build off the rich heritage of the chorus, 35 years strong, while setting our sights well into the future,” says Brandon.

New Artistic Director Shawn Cullen was also part of the branding team and believes the new look will build on the foundation he started when he was hired. Cullen says, “A legacy of musical excellence, creative expression, and enriching fellowship that changes the hearts and minds of singers and audiences alike. Now more than ever, it seems that united voices against inequities, injustices, and ignorance are needed loud and proud. We stay present so our faces are seen and our songs are heard while we stand with voices strong for those that need us now and always.”

The new branding will be used on www.hmckc.org, on all social media platforms, and printed material going forward.

 

About Heartland Men’s Chorus

Heartland Men’s Chorus (www.hmckc.org) is Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, now in its 35th season. Founded in 1986 with 30 singers to make music, HMC quickly became a safe oasis for a community scarred by fear and hatred, while plagued by a virus. Now with 120 singers, HMC is a vital part of Kansas City’s robust arts and cultural scene, making the historic Folly Theater its performance home for 26 years. The Kansas City Star has called Heartland Men’s Chorus “one of the most beloved arts institutions in Kansas City.” More information can be found at Heartland Men’s Chorus. # # #

New brand launch video: https://youtu.be/cJ3d8XfJKo4

HMC Celebrates Pop from Across the Pond

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Rick Fisher

816-931-3338

hmc@hmckc.org

 

FOR TICKETS:

http://hmckc.org or 816-931-3338

 

Heartland Men’s Chorus Celebrates British Pop Music

KANSAS CITY, MO (February 19, 2020) — Rick Fisher, Executive Director of Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC), today announced the continuation of their  34th season with Smitten With Britain, 8:00 PM on Saturday, March 28 and 4 PM on Sunday, March 29 at the Folly Theater, 300 W 12th Street, downtown Kansas City. High res photos can be found here.

Under the baton of the Artistic Director for the 2019-20 season, Shawn Cullen, the Chorus aims to entertain all who are within the sound of their voices. Smitten With Britain is a high energy revue of six decades of popular music from the United Kingdom. Moments of levity and irreverence combine with the rich sounds of tenor and bass voices to produce the kind of pops concert experience HMC has become known for in Kansas City.

Cullen speaks about the creative impetus behind this program: “In planning this show, my vision was to pay homage to artists and sounds that influenced generations of both past and present. “Pop music” is a touchstone for communities no matter your ethnicity, gender or sexual identity and continues to shape all parts of our human culture.”

The program for the concert reads like a who’s who of popular artists from across the pond including Adele, Sam Smith, Sting and Elton John and groups like the Beatles, the Eurythmics and the Spice Girls. Production numbers will give a nod to London’s West End from shows like Kinky Boots and Billy Elliot.

Tickets for Smitten With Britain are on-sale now. Seat prices range from $18-$43. Order online at hmckc.org or call the box office at 816-931-3338.

#####

ABOUT HEARTLAND MEN’S CHORUS – Heartland Men’s Chorus (www.hmckc.org) is Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, now in its 34th season. Founded in 1986 with 30 singers to make music, HMC quickly became a safe oasis for a community scarred by fear and hatred, while plagued by a virus. Now with 120 singers, HMC is a vital part of Kansas City’s robust arts and cultural scene, making the historic Folly Theater its performance home for 26 years. HMC also presents regional outreach concerts in a five-state area and has performed nationally and internationally in joint concerts with other GALA choruses. They regularly perform at GALA Choruses International festivals. The Kansas City Star has called Heartland Men’s Chorus “one of the most beloved arts institutions in Kansas City.”

Visit www.hmckc.org for more information about Heartland Men’s Chorus 2019-2020 season. More information can be found at Heartland Men’s Chorus.

HMC Brightens the Holidays!

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Rick Fisher

816-931-3338

hmc@hmckc.org

 

FOR TICKETS:

http://hmckc.org or 816-931-3338

 

Heartland Men’s Chorus Brightens the Holidays

Kansas City shines brightest during the holidays, and we want you to flip the switch on your holiday season with the Heartland Men’s Chorus! HMC holiday concerts mark the start of the holiday season for thousands of Kansas Citians. HMC kicks off their 34th season with Making Spirits Bright!, 8:00 PM on Saturday, December 7, 2019 and 4 PM on Sunday, December 8 at the Folly Theater, 300 W 12th Street, downtown Kansas City.

Under the baton of the Artistic Director for the 2019-20 season, Shawn Cullen, the Chorus aims to brighten the spirits of all who are within the sound of their voices. Cullen reveals his programming aesthetic saying “This concert illuminates the season with nostalgic holiday favorites-classics to contemporary, and of course those hilarious numbers that make your face light up like the Plaza lights.”  He goes on to give a sneak-peek at what audience members will experience: “We’ll share a message of love and light while encouraging us all to stay grateful and connected to those that mean the most.”

The concert includes standards like “Do You Hear What I Hear” and “The First Noel” that will thrill the audience with the vibrant new sound that Cullen is creating with the Chorus. But of course, it’s the festive tongue-in-cheek numbers that make this show KC’s non-traditional holiday tradition! Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? HMC calls for a pink holiday in a take-off on the popular song. Do you want to celebrate in Beverly Hills, L.A.? We’ll encourage you to spend “Chanukah in Santa Monica.” You’ll laugh out loud at the story told by the “Davey Dinckle Carol” of the wayward boy who saved Christmas for his town that was buried in a blizzard.

From familiar carols to “Forgotten Carols from Other Lands” by the irrepressible E.L. Barnes, from traditional to popular with just a bit of Broadway thrown in, the singers of HMC invite you to experience this eclectic holiday celebration that has a little something for everyone!

Tickets for Making Spirits Bright are on-sale now. Seat prices range from $18-$43. Order online at hmckc.org or call the box office at 816-931-3338.

#####

ABOUT HEARTLAND MEN’S CHORUS – Heartland Men’s Chorus (www.hmckc.org) is Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, now in its 34th season. Founded in 1986 with 30 singers to make music, HMC quickly became a safe oasis for a community scarred by fear and hatred, while plagued by a virus. Now with 120 singers, HMC is a vital part of Kansas City’s robust arts and cultural scene, making the historic Folly Theater its performance home for 26 years. HMC also presents regional outreach concerts in a five-state area and has performed nationally and internationally in joint concerts with other GALA choruses. They regularly perform at GALA Choruses International festivals. The Kansas City Star has called Heartland Men’s Chorus “one of the most beloved arts institutions in Kansas City.”

Visit www.hmckc.org for more information about Heartland Men’s Chorus 2019-2020 season. High-resolution photos of the 2018-2019 Season can be obtained from the Press section of the Website.

Season 34: Bright, British and unBreakable

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Rick Fisher

816.931.3338

hmc@hmckc.org

For Tickets: 816.931.3338 or hmckc.org

 

Heartland Men’s Chorus’ 34th Season

Celebrates Kansas City’s FABULOUS Holiday Season, Includes a British Invasion, and Premieres New Music from the Composer of “The Addams Family.”
Andrew Lippa’s “Unbreakable” will have its Midwest Premiere.
KANSAS CITY, MO (August 19, 2019) — Rick Fisher, Executive Director of Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC), announced Monday their 34th season will again present three completely distinct concerts. All three performances include the show stopping productions for which HMC is known. All three concerts are created to change hearts and minds. However, each concert is also incredibly unique. “In our 34 years,” said Fisher, “we’ve kept audiences on their toes because they never know quite what to expect from Heartland Men’s Chorus. We literally keep them guessing. But they always know they’ll come away feeling terrific and having had a wonderful time.”

This year will be especially unpredictable because the Chorus is under the baton of Interim Artistic Director Shawn Cullen. Though not unfamiliar to Kansas City audiences since Cullen previously conducted HMC’s chamber ensemble group, “Burnt Ends,” it is his first time leading HMC for the entire season. Cullen hails from Arizona where he completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and a Masters of Music in conducting, both from the University of Arizona. He is currently a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory completing course work towards his Ph.D. and serves as Director of Music at the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church. Cullen is a proud member of the national board of directors for GALA Choruses.

HOLIDAYS 2019 – Making Spirits Bright! – December 7-8, 2019

Kansas City shines brightest during the holidays, so HMC will “flip the switch” in December to once again bring our exciting blend of familiar carols, choral classics and hilariously zany twists on everyone’s favorite holiday music in Making Spirits Bright!  At the Folly Theater, December 7-8, the HMC holiday show is a favorite among audiences. “The combination of nostalgic holiday favorites and hilarious performances by members of the Heartland Men’s Chorus are truly what bring the holiday concert to life,” exclaims Executive Director Fisher. “This annual holiday production has fast become one of Kansas City’s favorite non-traditional holiday traditions.”

Single Tickets to Making Spirits Bright in the C. Stephen Metzler Hall at the Folly Theater are available online at http://hmckc.org/tickets/ or by calling 816-931-3338 beginning October 15th. Prices range from $18 to $43 with special student pricing at $7.

SPRING 2020 – Smitten By Britain – March 28-29, 2020

The United Kingdom rocks the airwaves with its incredible variety of musical genres and legendary artists. British talent is celebrated all over the world . . . from The Beatles to Adele, Sam Smith to Sir Elton John. This Ode to some of The Queen’s most distinguished musicians includes a musical journey from folk to pop.

Single Tickets to Smitten With Britain in the C. Stephen Metzler Hall at the Folly Theater are available online at http://hmckc.org/tickets/ or by calling 816-931-3338 beginning December 9th. Prices range from $18 to $43 with special student pricing at $7.

SUMMER 2020 – MIDWEST PREMIERE EVENT – Unbreakable – June 13-14, 2020

A new musical by composer Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family, I Am Harvey Milk) and creative team, Academy Award-winners, Dustin Lance Black (Milk, When We Rise) and Bruce Cohen (Milk, American Beauty, Big Fish), presents a historical arc to the experiences of the LGBTQ people over the last 12 decades. Illuminated by four characters drawn from real-life stories from throughout LGBTQ history, the work weaves together the themes of awareness and activism, and seeks to illuminate decades of setbacks as well as progress in the U.S.

Single Tickets to Unbreakable, in the C. Stephen Metzler Hall at the Folly Theater, will be available online at http://hmckc.org/tickets/ or by calling 816-931-3338 beginning March 30th. Prices range from $18 to $43 with special student pricing at $7.

ABOUT HEARTLAND MEN’S CHORUS – Heartland Men’s Chorus (www.hmckc.org) is Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, now in its 34th season. Founded in 1986 with 30 singers, HMC quickly became a safe oasis for a community scarred by fear and hatred, while plagued by a virus. Now with 120 singers, HMC is a vital part of Kansas City’s robust arts and cultural scene, making the historic Folly Theater its performance home for 26 years. HMC also presents regional outreach concerts in a five-state area and has performed nationally and internationally in joint concerts with other GALA choruses. They regularly perform at GALA Choruses International festivals. The Kansas City Star has called Heartland Men’s Chorus “one of the most beloved arts institutions in Kansas City.”

Visit www.hmckc.org for more information about Heartland Men’s Chorus’ 2019-2020 season. High-resolution photos of the chorus can be obtained by visiting hmckc.org.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Parking

Information for Folly Theater parking can be found online at www.follytheater.org. The parking garage, immediately west of the Folly Theater, is the primary parking garage for Heartland Men’s Chorus patrons. Event parking is $8 per car and may be purchased upon arrival (cash only at the gate).

Sponsors

HMC’s 34th Season is underwritten by Hotel Phillips. The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation, Missouri Arts Council, Hall Family Foundation, Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, Arts Council of Greater Kansas City, and Neighborhood Tourist Development Foundation (NTDF) are all among the many supporters of Heartland Men’s Chorus’ 34th season.

Student Discounts

Student tickets are available for $7 (with valid ID, one ticket per ID). They may be purchased in advance by calling the HMC box office at 816-931-3338 or at the door prior to the performances based on availability. The Box Office opens one hour prior to all performances.

Social Media

Receive updates by joining Heartland Men’s Chorus’ Page at www.facebook.com/hmckc, or following @hmchorus on Twitter or Instagram.

Season Tickets

Season tickets for all three shows, starting at $72, went on sale to the public on August 15th.

###

Please direct all media inquiries to Rick Fisher, 816-931-3338 or hmc@hmckc.org.

Summer Concert Celebrates the Music of Queen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Rick Fisher

816.931.3338

hmc@hmckc.org

For Tickets: 816.931.3338 or hmckc.org

Heartland Men’s Chorus Presents  “Rock You: A Wild Ride Through the Music of Queen!”
Performances June 9 and 9, 2019 at The Folly Theater

Featuring 17 of Queen’s Most Iconic Hits!

KANSAS CITY, MO (April 17, 2019) — Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC), announced today their 33rd season continues in June with ROCK YOU: A WILD RIDE THROUGH THE MUSIC OF QUEEN! Who better to bring the music of one of the greatest rock bands in history to life than Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus!

Featuring the most iconic hits from one of the world’s most beloved bands, Rock You will be a musical extravaganza that includes a full evening of rockin’ favorites. It will take you back to the 1970’s and 1980’s and have you screaming, “We Will, We Will Rock You” before the curtain falls!

Founded in 1970 in England, Queen released their self-titled debut album in 1973 in both the UK and the US. Despite not being an immediate success, they gained popularity in England particularly with two songs of the original album, “Keep Yourself Alive” and “Liar.” With their second album released in 1974, also known as the “heaviest” rock album they created, Queen II was heavy rock with a Baroque sensibility that combined emotional themes and fantasy which would become part of their staple. It also touted an iconic album cover depicting the album’s black and white themes that would be used by the band throughout their career. Through 25 years and 40 albums, including their 1981 Greatest Hits, the best selling album of all time in the UK, Queen’s sound with their explorations in funk, opera and pretty much everything in between formed the bedrock of their success and created a wide-ranging offering like no other band before or since. And oh yes, they created 189 songs of which HMC will cover 15!

Under the baton of Artistic Director Dustin S. Cates, Heartland Men’s Chorus will celebrate all that is Queen including (but certainly not limited to) favorites like:

  1. “We Are The Champions” – One of Queen’s biggest hits and most recognizable anthems, it begs to be sung at the top of one’s lungs. It was first released on their album News of the World in 1977.
  2. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Written by Mercury in 1979, no Queen show is complete without it. With its rockabilly flair and easily sing able lyrics, it was Queen’s first number-one single in the UK.
  3. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – A six-minute “suite” which was unheard of at the time, the song had several sections which included an intro, a ballad, an operatic section, a hard rock passage, and a philosophical ending. Although critical response was initially very mixed, it went on to become Queen’s most popular song and is considered one of the greatest rock-n-roll songs ever written.
  4. “Killer Queen” – Again written by Mercury for their Sheer Heart Attack album, the single was Queen’s first US hit and was Mercury’s tribute to a champagne drinking prostitute!
  5. “Love of My Life” – The lyrics alone of this 1975 song tell you everything that was happening in Mercury’s life as it was written for Mary Austin, he ex-fiancée: “Love of my life, you’ve hurt me. You’ve broken my heart and now you leave me. Love of my life, can’t you see? Bring it back. Bring it back. Don’t take it away from me, because you don’t know what it means to me.”
  6. “Somebody to Love” – Written by Freddie Mercury, it debuted on the band’s 1976 album A Day at the Races and also appeared on their Greatest Hits Reputed to be Mercury’s favorite song, the lyrics reflect a man asking God why he works so hard but cannot find love. He instead finds hope and not defeat.
  7. “We Will Rock You” – This arena rock epic was written to get audiences to participate more in Queen’s concerts. Written by Brian May in 1977, the song is written mostly in a cappella form using only stomping and clapping as a percussive beat. It has become one of the most utilized stadium anthems played at sporting events around the world.

Artistic Director Cates summed up HMC’s summer concert, Rock You, best by saying, “The curtain will be rising on ‘Rock You’ with all the inspiration that Freddie, Brian, Roger and John brought to their iconic music. In the words of Freddie Mercury, ‘We’ve gone overboard on every Queen album. But that’s Queen!’ Our summer concert will have you on your feet singing every word but also leave you with a message and a song in your heart.  It will be a performance for all ages . . . anyone who loves the music of Queen will love this concert!”

Rock You: A Wild Ride Through the Music of Queen! will be performed at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 8th and 4 p.m. Sunday, June 9th in the C. Stephen Metzler Hall at the historic Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th Street, in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

Tickets to both performances are available online at http://hmckc.org/tickets/ or by calling 816-931-3338. Prices range from $18 to $43 with special student pricing at $7. Come as you are. Or come dressed as Queen! But visit hmckc.org today!

ABOUT HEARTLAND MEN’S CHORUS – Heartland Men’s Chorus (www.hmckc.org) is Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, now in its 33rd season. Founded in 1986 with 30 singers to make music, HMC quickly became a safe oasis for a community scarred by fear and hatred, while plagued by a virus. Now with 120 singers, HMC is a vital part of Kansas City’s robust arts and cultural scene, making the historic Folly Theater its performance home for 26 years. HMC also presents regional outreach concerts in a five-state area and has performed nationally and internationally in joint concerts with other GALA choruses. They regularly perform at GALA Choruses International festivals. The Kansas City Star has called Heartland Men’s Chorus “one of the most beloved arts institutions in Kansas City.”

Visit www.hmckc.org for more information about Heartland Men’s Chorus 2018-2019 season. High-resolution photos of the 2018-2019 Season can be obtained by contacting the chorus office at 816-816-931-3338.

Interim Artistic Director Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Rick Fisher

816.931.3338

hmc@hmckc.org

For Tickets: 816.931.3338 or hmckc.org

Heartland Men’s Announces
Interim Artistic Director

Interim to Direct 2019-2020 HMC Season While Nationwide Search Commences


 KANSAS CITY, MO (April 10, 2019)

Last month, Artistic Director Dustin Cates announced: “I have accepted a position at Temple University as Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education and will not be returning in my role as Artistic Director of Heartland Men’s Chorus next season. Raymond also accepted a position this week at Einstein Medical Center where he will serve as Associate Director of Pediatric Residency and Director of the hospital’s PRIDE program which will include starting a clinic for children who identify as transgender. We will be moving to Philadelphia shortly after the Rock You! concerts.”

Keith Hohly, Chairman of Heartland Men’s Chorus’s Board of Directors, announced Tuesday that Shawn Cullen, Director of HMC’s community engagement ensemble, Burnt Ends, would assume the role of Interim Artistic Director upon the close of the 2018-2019 Season. Hohly said, “Shawn has been such a fantastic resource to the Chorus over the last two years since he joined us. He was the logical choice to continue our mission of changing lives through music.” A national search will commence next fall for a permanent Artistic Director to begin in HMC’s 35th season in 2020.

As an educator, conductor and artistic director, Shawn Cullen has earned a reputation for his dedication to musical excellence and striving to make a difference within the communities in which he belongs. During his 8-year tenure as Artistic Director/Conductor with Reveille Men’s Chorus in Tuscon, Arizona, Cullen worked to inspire growth in membership and audiences alike while striving to produce musically excellent, mission-based programming with humor and heart. Mr. Cullen conducted Reveille in 16 local productions, numerous community OUTreach performances, two quadrennial GALA (Gay and Lesbian Association) Chorus festivals and travelled internationally to perform with the Puerto Vallarta Gay Men’s Chorus. Mr. Cullen also led Reveille to make their debut performance with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra in 2013 for “Broadway Rocks!” as the first LGBTQ chorus to perform with a professional symphony orchestra in the state of Arizona. He joined Desert Voices Chorus as Artistic Director/ Conductor in 2013 helping to develop it’s new mission of “Fostering Community through Song,” making him one of the few conductors nationally to serve in artistic leadership for two GALA (Gay and Lesbian Association) Choruses simultaneously. In January 2017 Mr. Cullen accepted a three-year term as a national Board of Director for GALA Choruses helping to lead the North American LGBTQ and LGBTQ-allied choral movement and was the 2017 Fine Arts Teacher of the Year for Tucson Unified Schools and the 2018 RMC Community Leadership award recipient. Cullen joined the artistic team of Heartland Men’s Chorus in Kansas City in 2017.

In the education world, Cullen has held positions as an award-winning director of bands & choral music, performing arts mentor teacher and professional development coordinator in the Tucson Unified School District, Adjunct Faculty in University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, as well as the UMKC School of Education. Recognized for his skills as a versatile and collaborative musician, Cullen served as principal conductor for the Arizona Repertory Theater (2011-2017), housed within the University of Arizona’s School of Theater, Film and Television with nine production credits including “Into the Woods”, “Avenue Q”, “The Full Monty”, and “EVITA”.

Cullen is currently an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Teaching Fellow in Music Education and Curriculum & Instruction at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. His current research includes academic success for music students, conducting pedagogy, and the training of future music educators. Most recently his research was selected for presentation at the Desert Skies International Symposium of Research in Music Education. He holds a Bachelor’s of Music Education and a Master’s of Music in Conducting from the University of Arizona and is a member of the American Choral Director’s Association, the National Association for Music Education and serves on the national board of directors for GALA Choruses.

ABOUT HEARTLAND MEN’S CHORUS – Heartland Men’s Chorus (www.hmckc.org) is Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, now in its 33rd season. Founded in 1986 with 30 singers, HMC quickly became a safe oasis for a community scarred by fear and hatred, while plagued by a virus. Now with 120 singers, HMC is a vital part of Kansas City’s robust arts and cultural scene, making the historic Folly Theater its performance home for 25 years. HMC also presents regional outreach concerts in a five-state area and has performed nationally and internationally in joint concerts with other GALA choruses. They regularly perform at GALA Choruses International festivals. The Kansas City Star has called Heartland Men’s Chorus “one of the most beloved arts institutions in Kansas City.”

Visit www.hmckc.org for more information about Heartland Men’s Chorus’ 2018-2019 season. High-resolution photos of Shawn Cullen can be obtained by emailing hmc@hmckc.org.

HMC Presents “Stonewall 50”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Rick Fisher

816.931.3338

hmc@hmckc.org

For Tickets: 816.931.3338 or hmckc.org

Heartland Men’s Chorus’ 33rd Season Continues

With “Stonewall 50: All of Us” Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Gay Rights Movement.
Performance to include Quiet No More
commissioned by 20 Gay Choruses Nationwide.
HMC to Perform World Premiere March 23-24, 2019 at Folly Theater


KANSAS CITY, MO (January 29, 2019) — Dustin S. Cates, Artistic Director of Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC), announced Friday that HMC would indeed premiere the work, Quiet No More: A Choral Celebration of Stonewall 50, commissioned by the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Heartland Men’s Chorus and 17 other GALA Choruses throughout the United States. “Even with all the show stopping productions we’ve done,” said Cates, “in our 33 years, we’ve not done something THIS BIG,” he said with emphasis. “Produced by two dozen gay choruses, including THE BIGGEST gay choruses in the U.S., and WE get to perform it FIRST! It’s quite an honor. We are basically telling the story of the Gay Rights Movement through song, poetry, pictures and videos.” But HMC’s Spring Concert, called “Stonewall 50: All of Us,” is more than the story of the six days of Stonewall. It is also a show created to change hearts and minds through an uplifting celebration of life.

“Stonewall 50: All of Us” – March 23-24, 2019 at The Folly Theater

Scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, March 23-24, 2019, in the newly renovated Folly Theater, HMC will begin the concert with a celebration for “All of Us!” “With a variety of song styles and production elements, this concert is designed to help you forget the weird wild world we all get to experience every day and celebrate what it means to be alive,” said HMC Executive Director Rick Fisher.

The moving concert opens with a crowd and chorus favorite, “This is Me,” arranged by Tim Sarsany. The perfect beginning for “Stonewall 50,” “‘This is Me’ is a powerful story of self-acceptance; it’s an anthem for the marginalized, disenfranchised, the bullied and the outcast,” said Fisher. “’This Is Me’ is all about standing up for yourself, being proud of who you are, and accepting yourself with all your insecurities,” continued Cates. “It’s about stepping out from the shadows, not with hesitation, but bravely, boldly, proudly.” “There’s a defiance in this song,” furthered Cates, “that signifies the start of that journey towards self-acceptance. You get a real sense in this song that after years of being ground down and mistreated, it’s about reaching a point where you’re not going to take it anymore. This is not about trying to change you, but changing how you feel about yourself and your place in the world. We felt there couldn’t be a better message to kick off our celebration of Stonewall.”

The first act continues with similar songs of celebration and inspiration to continue the fight . . . songs like:

The Song We Sing by Jake Narverud

Sanctuary by Ola Gjeillo
You Will Be Found by Pasek & Paul
Music in the Air Arr. Ryan Murphy

1000 Beautiful Things, Arr. Tim Sarsany

Way Ahead of My Time, Arr. Jake Narverud

Also joining HMC in this celebration of inclusion are two LGBTQ+ choral groups in Kansas City, Choral Spectrum and “Heartsong,” a subgroup of Kansas City Women’s Chorus.

Newly formed in 2018, Choral Spectrum is a mixed chorus for both male and female voices that serves the LGBTQ+ community, including straight allies, and performs all types of music from classical to pop to spiritual to secular.  “Heartsong” of Kansas City Women’s Chorus is a special a cappella group of singers whose main purpose is to serve as ambassadors to the community. They also perform as part of KCWC’s main stage concerts. Kansas City Women’s Chorus was founded in 1999 and today performs with 100+ women from diverse ages, ethnicities and religious backgrounds. According to Choral Spectrum Artistic Director and Conductor, Dr. Michael Robert Patch, “LGBT choirs came from a need for social activism. Many of those same issues still persist today. LGBT choirs are also a place of community. They are a place where people can be who they truly are. In some ways, the music is secondary to the power that is ignited when people of like minds come together for a cause. The music is the vehicle for that power. We can use music to touch people in meaningful ways. And, the stories we tell through song can help to guide the audience to learn and grow while also being entertained.”

WORLD PREMIERE EVENT – “Quiet No More”

The second half of the concert features the WORLD PREMIERE of Quiet No More: A Choral Celebration of Stonewall 50. This eight-movement work is co-commissioned by LGBTQ+ choruses from across the U.S., including project co-founders, Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. It is the largest collaboration in the history of LGBTQ choruses. The New York performance at Carnegie Hall on June 27th, 2019, will be one night before the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and will include more than 400 singers gathering from 20 choruses across the country on stage in Carnegie Hall.

Quiet No More was written to commemorate the Stonewall rebellion, widely seen as one of the most pivotal moments in LGBTQ+ history. It not only tells the story of the Stonewall Inn that took place in New York City on June 28, 1969, but more importantly, celebrates the vast legacy and worldwide change that started from those events that June. The protests at Stonewall lit the fire for PRIDE, the effects of which are still as vital today as they were 50 years ago. Quiet No More honors the courage of those pioneers for social justice and equality; it encourages each of us to join in the renewed spirit of resistance for the future; and, most importantly, it sings for all of us. Stonewall may have sparked an uprising, but the movement continues to this day, not just for LGBTQ+ individuals, but for all victims of bullying, hate, intolerance, and violence.

Quiet No More features the voices of six diverse LGBTQ composers, including:

  1. Michael Shaieb – Co-Founder of FatLab, composer of Through a Glass Darkly and Composer for theatre, film, TV
  2. Our Lady J – American classical pianist, TV writer, singer & song-writer of Pose & Transparent
  3. Julian Hornik – Composer of Dear Evan Hansen, lyricist & librettist based in Brooklyn, NY
  4. Ann Hampton Callaway – Jazz singer, songwriter, actress
  5. Michael McElroy – Broadway Inspirational Voices, Composer, Tony Nominee & College Professor
  6. Jane Ramseyer Miller – Artistic Director of GALA Choruses & One Voice Mixed Chorus

The work will have some classical elements but will also feature musical theater, jazz and other popular styles, with women and other minority composers central to the project. One movement will contain a newly composed anthem that all choruses involved in the project will sing and record on YouTube with the goal of creating a national social media campaign to take place in May and June 2019. In addition, some members of HMC will travel to Los Angeles and New York in June 2019 when the two co-commissioners present the work to create the multi-choir massed performances in both cities. “We’ve had a number of our members indicate their desire to be a part of the Carnegie Hall performance. We anticipate the entire “Stonewall” song cycle to be an extremely moving and uplifting experience for all of us, individually and certainly collectively,” said Fisher.

Quiet No More:  A Choral Celebration of Stonewall is the keynote happening of the first ever World Pride month in New York, and has been publicized as “the Pride Month event you can’t miss.”

Stonewall 50: All of Us combines the Stonewall story with previously unheard voices and the latest historical insights. It will be balanced with the stories of The Stonewall Inn’s lasting impact, combining the work with messages of love, acceptance, joy and celebration, in a collaborative effort whose size has never before been experienced in the LGBTQ+ community.

Pre-Show Talk Featuring Stuart Hinds

30 minutes prior to each performance of “Stonewall 50,“ Stuart Hinds, Assistant Dean for Special Collections and Archives at UMKC, and the Curator of the GLAMA (Gay & Lesbian Archive of Mid-America) Collection, will discuss the surprisingly pivotal role of Kansas City in the national struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights before the 1969 Stonewall uprising. He will also touch on Kansas City’s very active social scene during the same period. This interesting talk is offered at no additional charge to those having purchased a concert ticket.

Tickets to Stonewall 50: All of Us at the newly renovated Folly Theater are available online at http://hmckc.org/tickets/ or by calling 816-931-3338. Prices range from $18 to $43 with special student pricing at $7.

HMC Presents Indivisible

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Rick Fisher

816.931.3338

hmc@hmckc.org

For Tickets: 816.931.3338 or hmckc.org

 

 

Heartland Men’s Chorus Presents
“INDIVISIBLE”
Featuring Songs of Resistance & Remembrance plus the World Premiere of “We, The Unknown,”
A Choral Commission in Cooperation with
The National World War I Memorial & Museum,
Plus Special Guests
The Men of the U.S. Army Soldiers’ Chorus


Performances June 9 and 10, 2018 at The Folly Theater

 

KANSAS CITY, MO (March 26, 2018) — Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC), announced Monday their 32nd season continues in June with INDIVISIBLE: SONGS OF RESISTANCE & REMEMBRANCE.

 

With the prejudice, inequality, bias and discrimination happening in the world around us, Heartland Men’s Chorus will present our response in song. Joining forces with the National World War I Memorial and Museum and the men of the United States Army Soldiers’ Chorus, “Indivisible” will celebrate the principles of our great nation’s founding . . . that ALL are created equal.

 

The first half of the concert features the World Premiere of a new choral work titled, We, The Unknown (WETU). The WETU project tells the “story” of how the Unknown Soldier of WWI was selected. WETU celebrates the importance and significance of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, both as a literal resting place for those unknown who paid the ultimate sacrifice and as a symbol of the nation’s sacred honor to remember their service. HMC was inspired to commission this piece because 2018 is the centennial of our nation’s involvement in World War I and because Kansas City is home to the National World War I Museum and Memorial. The WETU project has been endorsed by the National World War I Centennial Commission. We are also honored that the men of the United States Army Soldiers’ Chorus, an ensemble of the U.S. Army Field Band, will be joining us in performance.

 

We, The Unknown was conceived by Rob Hill, a Heartland Men’s Chorus member and Board member, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and third-generation soldier whose paternal grandfather served in World War I and retired as a Brigadier General. The idea came to him after hearing how America’s Unknown Soldier was selected. Hill wondered, “What if the person selected was gay or African-American or someone who was afraid to go to into battle?” Initially, Hill considered almost every other format possible to tell the story. But when Hill joined Heartland Men’s Chorus, he decided that a choral work for men’s voices was the best medium to pay tribute not only to the Unknown Soldier but all who have served, many in silence.

 

“Remembering and honoring the dead is easier when they are known, when their names are spoken aloud. The purpose of the WETU Project is to honor the unknown, not only the unknown soldiers of WWI, but all who—in some way—have served and been forgotten, or serve but are forced to hide their authentic selves, or are missing in action,” said Hill.

 

Rather than use existing music, HMC’s artistic director, Dustin S. Cates, recommended a new commission and suggested composer Timothy C. Takach for the job. Takach, who co-created the theatrical production All is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914, with Peter Rothstein and sang with Cantus, one of the U.S.’s premier men’s vocal ensembles, is quickly becoming among the most sought-after choral composers in the nation.

 

“Working on We, the Unknown has been an exciting process for me,” said Takach. “My main collaborative partner during most of the creation was Robert Hill, who conceived the project and was one of the librettists. The first and main part of my creative process involved the words and the storytelling we wanted to tell, so Rob and I talked at length about the characters in the piece, their individual stories, and how best to bring them to life. Just as each character has a unique story to tell, I wanted to make sure that the musical character was different for each of them, too. The next step involved planning the pacing of the piece, who sings or plays when, and making sure the texture shifts and changes of character help keep the listener not only musically engaged, but emotionally, too. Certainly there are moments of sadness in these stories. But there are also the moments of pride, of doubt, of fear, and of love. This piece takes an anonymous person, whomever lies in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and conjectures about who they could have been. It takes the unknown and makes them known. Bringing these people to life has been a joy.”

 

Hill drafted the libretto based on a number of sources, particularly historical narratives about the role of Sargent Edward F. Younger in choosing the Unknown Soldier. Younger’s task was to select one coffin among four and the libretto gives voice to the four lives represented by the coffins:

  1. The first speaks of his fear and trepidation facing battle, but also the comradeship he feels for his fellow Soldiers.
  2. The second, an African-American, speaks of his desire to be seen as equally committed to his country and equally deserving of respect and honor.
  3. The third speaks of his love for another Soldier, hoping to see a better tomorrow for them both.
  4. The fourth, spoken through his mother, representative of Gold Star Mothers (those whose sons have died in battle), conveys a coming-of-age and how, even in war, beauty is still possible.

The libretto is a mix of original lyrics, poetry and narrative of the WWI era, including Alan Seeger’s I Have a Rendezvous with Death and John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields. Once he completed the draft, Hill felt a poet’s touch was needed. After some research, he reached out to Pat Daneman, past director of Hallmark Card’s writing studio, whose refinement of the lyrics gives each character their unique, very human voice. Hill said of Daneman, “Pat Daneman was the perfect writer to bring to this project. I discovered her poetry online and it resonated with me immediately. All I can say is that she transformed my crude characterizations of the four Unknowns into fully rounded individuals. Each Unknown became more authentic and vivid. Without question, Pat elevated the libretto to inspired and heartfelt art.”

 

We, the Unknown, the World Premiere, will take place 8:00 p.m., Saturday, June 9th, in the C. Stephen Metzler Hall at The Folly Theater. It is a theatrical telling of a choral work for men’s voices, soloists and chamber ensemble with 12 songs describing the stories of the Unknown. Single tickets available online beginning Monday, March 26.

 

The second half of our summer concert, Indivisible: Songs of Resistance and Remembrance, explores the dynamic, both positive and negative, that occurs between patriotism and protest in a democracy. Sometimes, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. showed us, protest becomes a means of expressing one’s patriotism or love of country. Similarly, those who have fought and died for our nation, particularly those in uniform, do so in order to preserve one of democracy’s fundamental rights . . . that of free expression, including protest. Heartland Men’s Chorus hopes to shine a positive light on protest and share a message of inclusivity, equality and social justice for this season ending performance. The repertory will include:

 

  1. Uprising of Love| Arr. Pakk Hui – This “anthem” was written by singing/songwriter Melissa Etheridge to support the safety and dignity of all people in the LGBTQIA community.
  2. Man in the Mirror| Arr. Ed Lojeski – The iconic Michael Jackson song that encourages each of us to look inside ourselves to create meaningful change in the world.
  3. Tell My Father| Arr. Andrea Ramsey – An emotional piece about the perils of combat arranged by Kansas City-based composer and friend of HMC, Andrea Ramsey.
  4. This Grass| Jacob Narverud – A world premiere of a piece written by Jacob Narverud, with text by UMKC director of Choral Studies, Dr. Robert Bode, to honor the lives lost in the senseless racially charged events in Charlottesville.
  5. A Set of Songs Performed by the United States Army Soldiers Chorus
  6. Homeland| Z. Randall Stroope – A soaring piece that is based on melody by Gustav Holst – “Homeland, the country that I love, hold out your arms to me. I strive for you, and give you the best I hope to be.”
  7. Seven Last Words of the Unarmed| Joel Thompson – A gripping work using the last words of seven unarmed black men who were shot by police officers.

 

  1. Kenneth Chamberlin
  2. Trayvon Martin
  3. Amadou Diallo
  4. Michael Brown
  5. Oscar Grant
  6. John Crawford
  7. Eric Garner

 

  1. Glory| Arr. Eugene Rogers – This Academy Award and Grammy Award Winning song, originally performed by rapper Common and singer John Legend, was written by Legend for the motion picture, Selma, which portrays the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches. It will serve as a powerful ending to another incredible season of HMC concerts, spreading love and acceptance in a world of turmoil and hate.

 

 

Artistic Director Cates summed it up best saying, “Bringing people together is at the center of why Heartland Men’s Chorus exists.  Particularly in today’s polarized political climate, our hope is that this concert will offer an opportunity to consider and empathize with experiences different than our own, to celebrate the path to many of the freedoms we enjoy today, and to remember the sacrifices that were made on our behalf. We called this concert Indivisible because it is our aim that, through our music, storytelling and moving theatrical staging, our audiences leave feeling more united than divided—that we are one in working for the causes of liberty and justice for all!”

 

Indivisible will be performed at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 9th and 4 p.m. Sunday, June 10th in the C. Stephen Metzler Hall at the historic Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th Street, in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

 

Tickets to both performances are available online at http://hmckc.org/tickets/ or by calling 816-931-3338. Prices range from $18 to $43 with special student pricing at $7. Come as you are, or come in full military uniform. But visit hmckc.org today!

 

ABOUT HEARTLAND MEN’S CHORUS – Heartland Men’s Chorus (www.hmckc.org) is Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, now in its 32nd season. Founded in 1986 with 30 singers to make music, HMC quickly became a safe oasis for a community scarred by fear and hatred, while plagued by a virus. Now with 120 singers, HMC is a vital part of Kansas City’s robust arts and cultural scene, making the historic Folly Theater its performance home for 25 years. HMC also presents regional outreach concerts in a five-state area and has performed nationally and internationally in joint concerts with other GALA choruses. They regularly perform at GALA Choruses International festivals. The Kansas City Star has called Heartland Men’s Chorus “one of the most beloved arts institutions in Kansas City.”

 

Visit www.hmckc.org for more information about Heartland Men’s Chorus 2017-2018 season. High-resolution photos of the 2017-2018 Season can be obtained by contacting the chorus office at 816-816-931-3338.