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 Welcome Heartsong and Choral Spectrum to celebrate Stonewall’s 50th Anniversary!

For our upcoming spring concert, Stonewall 50: All of Us, we’re inviting two local LGBT choruses to join us in celebrating 50 years of LGBT rights: Kansas City Women’s Chorus’ “Heartsong” and Choral Spectrum.

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 in support of the Chorus’ mission: education about and advocacy for women’s and girl’s issues. 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.

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.  According to group founder and artistic director, Dr. Michael Robert Patch, the group was formed as an alternative to all female or all male choirs. “Whatever the music selections are, the overall performances will be uplifting and fun!”  Tickets to Stonewall 50: All of Us are available at hmckc.org.

 

Choral Spectrum

Honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising 

Libby Hanssen  | KC Studio

February 27, 2019

Heartland Men’s Chorus Presents World Premiere of “Quiet No More: A Choral Celebration of Stonewall 50”

In March, the Heartland Men’s Chorus honors the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising as they present the world premiere of “Quiet No More: A Choral Celebration of Stonewall 50.”

Co-commissioned with the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus and Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, along with over 20 other ensembles, it is the largest co-commissioned project in the history of gay and lesbian choruses.

The eight-movement work, from six composers, honors the events (sometimes termed “riots,” while others prefer “uprising”) that occurred in and around Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn. It began June 28, 1969, when a police raid on a gay-friendly bar turned into nights of protests, lighting the flame for LGBT activism. Every year since, the anniversary of the gay liberation movement is marked by Gay Pride Marches in New York City and across the world.

Instead of recreating the timeline of events, the work “celebrates the big ideas Stonewall stands for,” said Dustin Cates, artistic director of the Heartland Men’s Chorus.

“‘Quiet No More’ is starting in the heart of the country, which I think has some symbolism,” said Cates. Predating Stonewall, LGBT rights activists from across the country met in Kansas City in 1966 for the National Planning Conference of Homophile Organizations, the first nationwide meeting of this kind. Today, a historical marker in Barney Allis Plaza designates this meeting. “Some say the gay rights movement began (here),” said Cates, “and that Stonewall is where it took off.”

Jason Cannon is one of the forces behind the creation of “Quiet No More.” He sang with the NYCGMC for 15 years but has since taken a more behind-the-scenes role, writing and directing. He spearheaded the research, which took nine months, and wrote the creative brief for the composers, as well as the dialogue between the works, which serves to set the stage for Greenwich Village in 1969.

“It was fascinating to take a deep dive into the nuances of this event that happened in 1969,” said Cannon. “I have always heard about the uprising in broad terms, and it was interesting to dive into the details. The weather was very hot on the night of the uprising, there was a full moon, the bouncer at Stonewall would flash lights on the dance floor to signal that the cops were in the lobby.”

“What I learned was that it was not an easy thing to trace. A lot of the people who had been at the uprising are no longer living. And because there was such a whirlwind of activity, even amongst people who were there, there are disputes about what actually happened.

“It’s still a little bit of a mystery and we try to maintain some of that mystery. We decided it wasn’t our job necessarily to solve the puzzle, but we did our best to take what the historians had pieced together and present it in a way we thought the audience can try to experience,” said Cannon.

He likens the performance more to a radio play than a historical documentary, letting the music and words facilitate the audience’s imagination. “It was more of a goal to place the audience into, as best we could, some sort of experience that emulates what happened, and let them decide where they would have been standing at that time,” he said.

“Quiet No More” includes contributions from Michael Shaieb, Our Lady J, Julian Hornik, Michael McElroy, Ann Hampton Callaway and Jane Ramseyer Miller, familiar forces in the LGBT chorus world and beyond.

This method, said Cannon, brings together different points of view, different voices and different music styles. “We gave these composers a lot of creative license. We really wanted their voices to shine through,” he said.

In June, New York City Gay Men’s Chorus performs “Quiet No More” in Carnegie Hall, as part of WorldPride, a month-long celebration of LGBT pride. It’s the first time the international celebration will be held in the United States.

A cohort of 400 singers from choruses across the country joins together in this performance. “We are sending a delegation of our singers . . . there’s no venue big enough for all the members of all the choruses, except maybe Madison Square Garden,” joked Cates. Similarly, a delegation will travel to Los Angeles in July for a performance in Walt Disney Hall that also celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.

Along with “Quiet No More,” HMC performs works that “highlight some things that are uniquely Kansas City and the LGBTQIA community,” said Cates, including the participation of fellow LGBT musical organizations: Heartsong, a small ensemble from the Kansas City Women’s Chorus, and Choral Spectrum, a recently formed Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass (SATB) LGBT chorus.

“The other half of the concert will take a modern day look at the LGBT rights movement, with the narrative that advocacy for these rights is advocacy for the rights of all of us,” Cates said.

Much of that repertoire speaks to the need to live with authenticity and hope, such as “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman;” Annie Lennox’s “A Thousand Beautiful Things;” “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hanson;” to the more humorous “Way Ahead of My Time.”

That half of the concert closes with “All Of Us” from Craig Hella Johnson’s “Considering Matthew Shepard.” This piece was part of the service at the National Cathedral, where Shepard’s ashes, 20 years after his murder, were interred in October 2018.

Though Stonewall was a violent reaction to injustice, spurred by anger and fear, over the past 50 years this legacy has transformed into a message of unity, perseverance and pride.

Thirty minutes before each performance, Stuart Hinds, Assistant Dean for Special Collections and University Archivist at UMKC, will discuss the pivotal role of Kansas City in the national struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights before the 1969 Stonewall uprising. Hinds will also touch on Kansas City’s very active social scene during the same period.

Heartland Men’s Chorus presents “Stonewall 50: All of Us” March 23 at 8 p.m. and March 24 at 4 p.m. at the Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. For information visit hmckc.org.

Michael Shaieb

Jane Ramseyer Miller

Ann Hampton Callaway

Ann Hampton Callaway is one of the leading champions of the great American Songbook, having made her mark as a singer, pianist, composer, lyricist, arranger, actress, educator, TV host and producer. A born entertainer, her unique singing style blends jazz and traditional pop, making her a mainstay in concert halls, theaters and jazz clubs as well as in the recording studio, on television, and in film. She is best known for Tony-nominated performance in the hit Broadway musical Swing! and for writing and singing the theme song to the hit TV series The Nanny. Callaway is a Platinum Award winning writer whose songs are featured on seven of Barbra Streisand’s recent CD’s. The only composer to have collaborated with Cole Porter, she has also written songs with Carole King, Rolf Lovland and Barbara Carroll to name a few.

Michael McElroy

Julian Hornik

Our Lady J