Randy Hite on The Caveman Song

Rob Hill reflects on his HMC experience

If there’s a simple tag line for Heartland Men’s Chorus, it’s this: We Change Lives. I should know; it changed mine.

For men of a certain age like me, belonging to an LGBT/gay chorus provided (and still provides) a way to “come into the light,” find both self- and societal acceptance, and be more authentic—all while in the company of other men doing the same or, if they’ve already been through this metamorphosis, showing us the way. I vividly remember one song HMC performed at the first concert I attended. It’s sort of a meta anthem that tells the story of a man (just like me) attending his first gay men’s chorus concert (just like me) who sits in the back of a theater, in the dark, and hopes he won’t be spotted by anyone he knows (just like me). Then he hears them sing and realizes—they’re singing directly to him (just like me). Beckoned by their voices, he joins the chorus (just like me), and the cycle begins anew.

I joined HMC in 2005. With the exception of two years away from Kansas City for work, I have been an active member of the chorus, serving a year as president and four years as vice chair and then chair of its board of directors. In that time, HMC has continued to fulfill its vision of using its powerful, collective voice to enlighten, inspire, heal, and empower. Its concerts have been hip, fun, merry, festive, upbeat, serious, compelling, tear-inducing, and profound—the full panoply of musical genres and emotions. Its outreach has touched lives in new corners of our community, not just with music but with inspirational action (such as its annual support of AIDS Walk). It has proudly represented Kansas City at the Gay and Lesbian Association (GALA) of Choruses Festival, held every four years, adding luster to its and the city’s reputation. And this past year, it commissioned and premiered its most significant choral work to date—a 40-minute oratorio that tells the story of how the Unknown Soldier of World War I was selected, to coincide with the WWI Centennial.

In my decade-plus with HMC, I have seen members come and go for a variety of reasons. The most common is simply that life is ever-changing: we get new jobs, retire, fall in love with someone in another city, or simply need to focus on other priorities. Sadly, it’s now my turn to go.

When I joined HMC, I was an infant in my life as a gay man. Under HMC tutelage and nurturing care, I’ve matured. While it’s never easy to leave the family you love, there comes a time to leave the nest, so to speak. That time has come for me—and I am ready. I’m moving to Huntsville, AL, which has no GALA chorus. I have to believe there’s someone there waiting to be sung to and it will be my mission to ensure they hear the life-changing and life-affirming message that only an LGBT chorus can offer.

Thank you HMC for not just changing my life—but affirming it.

Love forever,

Rob

Unknown no longer

By Morgan Greenwood June 12, 2018

A newly commissioned oratorio and a smattering of familiar tunes filled Saturday’s concert from Kansas City’s own Heartland Men’s Chorus.

The Heartland Men’s Chorus has been around the block – in the good sense of the phrase. Performing in some capacity since 1986, it is safe to call them an institution. Their concert on Saturday was one of only three they present each year, and as such it holds a certain weight to it. And that weight was not shirked away from by any means. The Chorus performed a newly commissioned hour-long oratorio for vocal soloists, choir, and orchestra—and that was only the first half of the concert. Furthermore, the concert had high goals in its conception: “Today, we will honor lives lost, remember the sacrifice others made on our behalf, reflect on the challenges we experience today and celebrate the ties that bind us together as Americans.”

This was most readily seen in the oratorio We, The Unknown, composed by Timothy C. Takach with lyrics by Rob Hill and Pat Daneman. Hill himself sings in the Chorus and is former U.S. Army officer with military roots going back two generations (his paternal grandfather served in WWI). This fact is important context: We, The Unknown tells the story of how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’s unknown soldier was chosen to be interred there. As per the program notes, “…four unknowns were exhumed from four World War I American cemeteries in France. U.S. Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger… selected the unknown by placing a spray of white roses on one of the caskets.” The oratorio explodes this simple act into the whole of the piece. Sgt. Younger approaches each of the caskets (represented by American flags shrouding the soldiers behind) and the soldiers one by one come out to tell their stories as the chorus accompanies and comments—sometimes as a symbolic military group, sometimes as a kind of Greek chorus. The Heartland Men’s Chorus was joined by members of the U.S. Army Soldier’s Chorus, who sang as well. The soldier’s stories were aimed to be diverse—the work was conceived as “what if the person selected was gay or African-American or someone else we might not otherwise expect?”

The oratorio was complimented by some extensive staging and choreography. There was a darkened screen that dropped and retracted at various times. This screen would separate the soloists from the choir and at various points was projected upon with imagery. A striking image was of a field of headstones, that, when projected upon the screen intermingled with the shrouded but still-visible choir and reminded us of the masses lost. The extensiveness of the production did get in the way occasionally, as when smoke machines meant to simulate explosives gave off their signature hiss instead and reminded us that we were watching a play. A heightened version of this occurred when, at the big finale, all four of the unknown soldiers were visible outside of their flag-caskets and the flags quickly descended at once, clearly meant to be a crushing moment. However, one flag caught on a soloist’s head, leaving the lower half of his torso and legs exposed. Perhaps an inadvertent metaphor for how nationalistic fervor leaves faceless bodies in its wake?

The soloists’ performances themselves, on the whole, were quite good. Christopher Puckett, who performed the role of Edward F. Younger, the man tasked with selecting the Unknown Soldier, was especially impassioned. David M. Sanchez, Unknown Soldier #2, who sang of the struggles of being a black man in the military at that time, had the fieriest section that erupted into applause at its end. Christopher Kurt, Unknown Soldier #3, mostly sang well of being separated from his love (another soldier) by death and circumstance, but the part unfortunately sometimes existed outside of his range. Unknown Soldier #4 was merely a boy who was resigned to stand there, as his mother (mezzo-soprano Aidan Soder) sang in his stead.

After the intermission, the concert lightened considerably. Different smaller chamber groups as well as the full choir sang numbers ranging from arrangements of songs like Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” or “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” However, the second half also had the single most affecting sequence on the entire concert—Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, a collection of seven pieces for men’s chorus. The only text used is the final spoken words of seven unarmed black men: Kenneth Chamberlain, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, John Crawford, and Eric Garner. The piece was devastating, but this lies not with the written music or even its performance, but rather the unstated implications that it holds: that people and lives are always affected—and yes, ended—by the choices of individuals. The bullet was fired by a person, mines were laid by a person. Those four unknown men and those seven unarmed men all died as a result of societal forces larger than themselves in the sense that the situation was laid out by others’ collective actions beforehand. Compassion is needed. Sea change is needed.

REVIEW:
Heartland Men’s Chorus
Indivisible: Resistance & Remembrance
Saturday, June 9th, 2018
The Folly Theater
300 W. 12th St., Kansas City, MO 64105

Copyright © 2018 KCMETROPOLIS.org Used by permission.

ABBA Cadabra

By Jordan Buchholtz March 27, 2018

Heartland Men’s Chorus’ pyrotechnic energy and aesthetically decorative production of “ABBA Cadabra” captivated and excited a full house at the Folly Theater on Sunday night.

The Heartland Men’s Chorus under the direction of Dustin S. Cates, with pianist Robert Lamar Sims, and a bassist and a drummer presented 17 popular songs of the Swedish pop group ABBA. This show was aurally stimulating with the Chorus’ vibrant and animated singing as well as visually engaging from special lighting effects, dancers on stage, outfit changes, small ensembles, and simple choreography.

This concert was split into two parts: In Act 1, the stage was full of rainbow colors from the background and the men’s outfits of all black with colorful ties. The color palate changed for Act 2, and the Chorus wore shades of purple, grey, and black.

Act 1 began with a continuous flow of songs: “Super Trouper,” “Waterloo,” “Take A Chance on Me,” “Money, Money, Money,” “The Winner Takes it All/Knowing Me Knowing You,” “On and On and On,” “I Have a Dream,” and “Does Your Mother Know.” The first number, “Super Trouper” featured an acrobatic ring dancer, adding in an interesting visual effect. Five dancers joined the Chorus on stage throughout the whole show in various outfits depending upon the song. The purpose of the dancers was a little unclear, except that they certainly drew attention away from the more basic choreography and moves of the Chorus. And then it became obvious that much of the Chorus wanted to do more moves and dance along to the music, but it is difficult to synchronize a large number of people on more complex motions. Thus the dancers!

The balance between the musicians and the Chorus was good overall, although there were times that the musicians slightly overpowered the Chorus and, therefore, words were not easily comprehensible. The arrangements had some interesting harmonies, so it would have been nice to hear more of that. Some highlights from Act 1 include the song “Money, Money, Money” which was sung by eight men who were dressed in costumes of common job uniforms such as a policeman, fireman, mechanic, construction worker, etc. Toward the end of the song they started stripping their clothes off, which naturally aroused and hyped up the audience. “I Have a Dream” began with a quartet of singers who started out a little pitchy, but slowly unified and steadied their harmonies as the song continued.

Act 2 began with a “flashy” version of “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man After Midnight)” as the Chorus members held flashlights in their hands and synchronized movements of shining the lights out into the audience – great effect! The other songs included in this Act were: “Lay All Your Love on Me,” “Voulez Vous,” “The Way Old Friends Do,” “One of Us,” “Fernando,” “Thank You for the Music,” “Mamma Mia,” and “Dancing Queen.” One of the most musically impressive numbers was “The Way Old Friends Do” which started off with a trio of singers with an excellent blend of voices, and they were equally matched by the wonderful harmonies of the choir. Judging by the rest of the show, expectations were held high for the last two numbers, perhaps the most popular songs of ABBA “Mamma Mia” and “Dancing Queen.” “Mamma Mia” lacked some artistic creativity, it was more plain and straightforward, but the presentation of “Dancing Queen” definitely included various special effects and made up for the previous song.

Of course a concert full of popular tunes entices people to sing along. The audience was invited to sing on numbers such as “Super Trouper,” “Mamma Mia,” and “Dancing Queen.”  Lyrics were projected on a screen that came down from the ceiling of the stage for these songs. And a fun creative activity the Chorus constructed during the show was what they called “ABBA Draga Queen.” Kansas City Drag Queen Melinda Ryder and her husband Kirk Nelson led this event where they took a straight man from the audience and transformed him into a drag queen backstage during the concert and revealed the makeover during the last number “Dancing Queen.” Throughout the show, MC Dudley Hogue along with Ryder came on stage to give the audience updates on the process of the makeover, and even showed some footage of Nelson putting makeup on the “drag-queen-to-be.” Hogue and Ryder were both amusing and entertaining with their comic verbal delivery and adorned demeanor. This event as a whole was a nice addition to the concert and gave the song “Dancing Queen” extra pizzazz  – along with the balloons that fell from the ceiling and the ostentatious singing from the Chorus as well as the audience.

REVIEW:
Heartland Men’s Chorus
ABBA Cadabra
March 24-25, reviewed Sunday, March 25th
Stephen Metzler Hall at the Folly Theater
300 W 12th St, Kansas City, MO

Copyright © 2018 KCMETROPOLIS.org Used by permission.

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.

Heartland Men’s Chorus Presents “ABBA-Cadabra!”

Put On Your Disco Boots and Channel Your Inner Dancing Queen as HMC Celebrates One of the Greatest Bands in Pop Music History!
Performances March 24 and 25, 2018 at The Folly Theater

Featuring 17 of ABBA’s Most Iconic Hits!

KANSAS CITY, MO (February 12, 2017) — Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC), announced Monday their 32nd season continues in March with ABBA-Cadabra!  Who better to bring one of the greatest pop phenomenons in the history of music back to life than Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus!

Featuring the most iconic hits from one of the world’s most beloved bands, ABBA-Cadabra will be a musical extravaganza that includes a full evening of toe-tapping ABBA favorites. It will take you back to the 1970’s and have you screaming, “Thank you for the music” before the curtain falls.

The ABBA phenomenon began in 1974 in Brighton, England, where “Waterloo” became the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. That hit song was truly the break through for the quartet, made up of Swed’s Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersoon and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, who, with their short skirts and headbands, would go on to sell more albums than any other group second only to The Beatles. They ruled the international disco music market for a decade with their long blonde hair and their long list of chart topping music.

Under the baton of Artistic Director Dustin S. Cates, Heartland Men’s Chorus will be donning platform shoes and bell-bottom pants to celebrate all that is ABBA including (but certainly not limited to) iconic favorites like:

  • “Does Your Mother Know” – This 1979 single was atypical but a fun piano-driven, boogie-disco song that will truly be performed “HMC style” with tons of fun!
  • “Super Trouper” – One of ABBA’s biggest hits that begs to be sung at the top of one’s lungs, it opens with a cappella magic then finds the addictive staccato chorus.
  • “Mamma Mia” – Undoubtedly set in history by the Broadway play and the movie led by Academy Award Winner Meryl Streep, no ABBA show is complete without it.
  • “Dancing Queen” – No ABBA concert produced by a gay men’s chorus would be complete without the iconic “Dancing Queen.” It is the masterpiece that’s outlasted the disco era to become a standard of modern-day dance music that can get a room moving with its opening notes.

Artistic Director Cates summed it up best saying, “The curtain will be rising on ‘ABBA-Cadabra’ with more sparkle than a disco ball! We’re even choosing audience members to come backstage and be made over like Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni. Our concerts always have something for everyone and will 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 ABBA will love this concert!”

ABBA-Cadabra will be performed at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 24th and 4 p.m. Sunday, March 25th 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 ABBA! 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 2016-2017 season. High-resolution photos of the 2016-2017 Season can be obtained by contacting the chorus office at 816-816-931-3338.

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 32nd Season is underwritten by Hotel Phillips. Other sponsors include 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 the Kansas City Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund (NTDF).

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 and following @hmchorus on Twitter.

 

Heartland Men’s Chorus

2017-2018 Full Season at a Glance

 

From The Heart (FALL SHOW)

November 10, 2017 | Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, KS

Friday, Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m.

Packages With Beaus (HOLIDAY SHOW)

December 2-3, 2017 | Folly Theater, Kansas City, MO

Sat., Dec. 2, 8:00 p.m.

Sun., Dec. 3, 4:00 p.m.

December 9, 2017 | Yardley Hall, Carlsen Center, JCCC, OPKS

Sat., Dec. 9, 8:00 p.m.

ABBA-Cadabera (SPRING SHOW)

March 24-25, 2018 | Folly Theater, Kansas City, MO

Sat., Mar. 24, 8:00 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 25, 4:00 p.m.

We hope you’ll put on your disco boots and channel your inner dancing queen as HMC celebrates one of the greatest bands in popular music history. Featuring everything in the ABBA repertoire from “Take a Chance on Me!” to “Mamma Mia,” you’re sure to be singing at the top of your lungs before the curtain falls. We plan to be completely silly and have a great time to say, “Thank you for the music!” Single tickets available now.

 Indivisible (SUMMER SHOW)

June 9-10, 2018 | Folly Theater, Kansas City, MO

Sat., June. 9, 8:00 p.m.

Sun., June 10, 4:00 p.m.

Ever wonder about the phrase “With Liberty and Justice for All?” We certainly do and with the prejudice, inequality, bias and discrimination happening in the world around us, Heartland Men’s Chorus will present our response, “Indivisible.” HMC will be joining forces with the National World War I Memorial and Museum to celebrate the principles of our great nation’s founding . . . that ALL are created equal. Single tickets available online beginning Monday, March 26.

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

 

From the Heart – Tom Dillon

My name is Tom Dillon. I am in my third year as a Baritone with Heartland Men’s Chorus.  Originally from Connecticut, I spent some time in Minnesota and South Carolina as well. I moved to Missouri in 1998 and settled my family here. In 2013, I began living as my authentic self after a 20-year marriage ended that produced three great kids.  In the process of finding myself I participated in my church’s production of “Godspell.” At age 44, it was my first participation in musical theater, outside of high school/college/church choir.

While continuing my coming out journey, I attended my first HMC concert, “A Little Bit Wicked,” in June 2015. I met some terrific guys in the chorus over the summer and in September I auditioned. The chorus opened up a new outlet of support, friendship and a chance to have fun. One of my older brothers passed away at the age of 49 and that experience taught me to live life. So I have stepped out of comfort zones, performed as a reindeer, and have even been granted a few solos.  Performing with HMC has also given me an opportunity to lend my voice to the message we bring through song and performance.  Paraphrasing Dustin Cates, HMC Artistic Director, “When a gay men’s chorus sings some of these lyrics they take on a whole new meaning!” I couldn’t agree more.  Sometimes in rehearsals I tear up just singing certain phrases, and internalizing and personalizing them.  Music is powerful. My hope is that my singing helps to articulate that meaning for those listening.

As a late bloomer, HMC has been a safe place for me to explore who I am and to flourish. I have taken the opportunity to be involved in planning HMC events like our annual gala fundraiser, Dinner of Note, and some social gatherings as a way to broaden my horizons. I enjoy lending my voice outside of singing.  I feel a part of the HMC family as it has become an extension of my own amazing blood family. The friendships I have formed have sustained me at this stage in my life.

Tom Dillon

From the Heart – Holden Kraus

I am (now) an Upper Tenor 2 with HMC and joined the Chorus as a Lower 1st Tenor in January of 2015 in A Little Bit Wicked. I fell in love with the sound of the Chorus during KC Pride as I sat on a bench in the Power and Light District listening to the greatest hits of The Beatles. I knew, at that moment, that I needed to be a part of HMC! Unfortunately, due to my schedule, I had to wait a little bit to make that a reality.

 

I am an 8th grade Math teacher at West Middle School in Lawrence. I have taught 8th grade Math, Algebra 1, and Geometry for the last 6 years. I am a proud graduate of Pittsburg State University with a Masters degree in Mathematics and I am currently pursuing an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction (fancy phrase for “teaching”) with a focus in Mathematics at UMKC. 7 semesters to go!

In my free time (you know.. between semesters in the winter), I enjoy reading good books, travelling to Seattle, and puttering around Kansas City exploring new shops and events. Most of my time now is spent reading research articles and writing papers so any little sliver of free time is greatly cherished!

I joined HMC because I needed to feel connected to the LGBTQ+ community and because I have always loved to sing. In the short two years that I’ve been with the Chorus, I have made friends that will last a lifetime. There are always new connections to be made and I think the Chorus is a great way to do that!

Holden Kraus

Gift-wrapped

By Sarah Young December 12, 2017

Heartland Men’s Chorus offered up one of its familiar zany and tender holiday programs in “Packages with Beaus” at Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College on Sunday.

With guest performers Claybourne Elder and the UMKC Graduate String Quartet, as well as the chorus’s soloists and small group performers, Artistic Director Dustin Cates and Heartland Men’s Chorus rolled together a traditional as well as splendidly diverse collection of festive music and music that captured the spirit of the holidays.

Opening with an arrangement by James L. Stevens of “Nearer, My God to Thee,” with soloist Michael Schnetzer, the chorus signaled its intention to offer variation on the traditional holiday fare and followed it with the difficult and stunningly beautiful “Festival Gloria” by Craig Courtney, showing the depth of the men’s choral skills. Notable moments in the early part of the program celebrated Hanukah in “One Light” with soloist Max H. Brown, and a performance of “African Noel” with the smaller chamber ensemble performing the charming round. The emotional Jewel piece “Hands,” arranged by Cates for chorus with solo turn from Todd Gregory-Gibbs, was dramatic and emotional in its message of light and hope in times of darkness.

The guest performer at the Yardley Hall event was Broadway performer Claybourne Elder, whose singing shone with depth of feeling as well as humor. He offered a powerful performance of Joni Mitchell’s “River,” a song that reflects more of the darker emotions often felt during the holiday season. During the second half of the evening’s performance, Elder returned with a ukulele and a rollicking “I’m Getting’ Nuttin’ for Christmas” and later a “Santa Baby” mock strip-tease.

The concert’s second half was thematically lighter, beginning with a comically choreographed “Sleigh Ride” and “I Want to Stare at My Phone with You (A Millennial Holiday Song).” Brandon Shelton’s turn as the long-suffering “Marge” from Human Resources in “A PC Christmas” and the Bob Chilcott arrangement of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (adapted by Tim Sarsany) drew lots of audience appreciation. The hilarious highlight, however, was “A Cowboy Kislev,” featuring the small chorus group “Burnt Ends” decked out for the Hanukah trail drive—complete with Menorah and yarmulkes under their cowboy hats.

Returning to the solemnity of the evening a wordless version of “Stille Nacht,” with the UMKC Graduate String Quartet, was dedicated its performance to members of HMC who have passed on.

The inclusivity of the holiday season theme was back with the final powerful number “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” with a solo by Christopher Kurt. The encore was a dramatic rendering of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” delivered as all of the performers left the stage by walking through the house.

This concert added variety and perspective to the usual holiday musical fare, giving its dedicated audience a chance to find the season’s spirit in new dimensions of song and experience. Heartland Men’s Chorus is a local gem, giving fine performances of thoughtful song choices and well-crafted singing that show their versatility as well as their love of performance.

REVIEW:
Heartland Men’s Chorus
Packages with Beaus
Sunday, December 10, 2017
Yardley Hall, Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College campus
12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, KS

Copyright © 2017 KCMETROPOLIS.org Used by permission.

Heartland Men’s Chorus Takes Momentum from Leawood Debut into Kansas City Holidays

“Packages With Beaus” will have three performances in 2017 including two at Folly Theater and one at JCCC’s Yardley Hall

KANSAS CITY, MO (Nov. 15, 2017) — Following last Friday’s debut concert at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Rick Fisher, Executive Director of Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC), confirmed Wednesday that it was one of the largest audiences before which the chorus has ever performed. “Taking that kind of momentum into the regular season is exhilarating and helps to confirm that our mission and message resounds throughout Kansas City. We are especially thrilled to have attracted such a large crowd in that part of the metro area and right before we open our regular season,” said Fisher. HMC’s 32th season will open with its popular holiday spectacular, Packages With Beaus. One of Kansas City’s favorite non-traditional holiday traditions, Packages With Beaus has an exciting blend of familiar carols, choral classics and hilariously zany twists on beloved holiday music. It offers something for everyone and leaves you humming your favorite holiday tunes and ready to wrap all those packages!

“The first act is by turns touching and thrilling, with everything from soaring, jubilant praise, to catchy rhythms, to beautiful lines of sacred text. Throw in the fabulousness of our guest artists, Well-Strung, Claybourne Elder, and the UMKC String Quartet, and you have the perfect recipe for celebrating the holidays,” said Artistic Director Cates.

Well-Strung, the critically acclaimed singing string quartet, will be featured December 2-3, at the C. Stephen Metzler Hall in the Folly Theater; and Broadway sensation, Claybourne Elder, will take the stage with HMC, December 10th, at Yardley Hall on the Johnson County Community College campus, accompanied by the UMKC String Quartet.

Well-Strung is a string quartet with a modern twist featuring Edmund Bagnell (first violin), Christopher Marchant (second violin), Daniel Shevlin (cello) and Trevor Wadleigh (viola). The group plays well known classical pieces while singing pop music hits from the likes of Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson, and other pop stars for a uniquely engaging experience. The New York Times recently called Well-Strung, “A talented quartet of men who sing and play instruments brilliantly, fusing pop and classical music from Madonna to Beethoven.” Conceived by Marchant and Mark Cortale, the foursome formed in 2012, and have since gained international attention. They have performed at the Vatican in Rome and at a gala for President Obama. Hillary Clinton requested a special performance by Well-Strung after the release of their viral music video, “Chelsea’s Mom.” They have also performed on the The Today Show, and live onstage with artists such as Kristin Chenoweth, Neil Patrick Harris and Audra McDonald.

Claybourne Elder is a Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel and Theatre World Award nominee. He starred on Broadway as “Buck” in the original cast of Bonnie and Clyde, in Sunday in the Park with George (starring Jake Gyllenhaal) and Sondheim on Sondheim at the Hollywood Bowl. He is also known for playing Pete O’Malley on the CW Series, “The Carrie Diaries.” Additionally he worked with Stephen Sondheim as “Hollis” in Road Show, in Two by Two (alongside Jason Alexander), and A Star is Born (with Idina Menzel). Plus he’s appeared many times in Kansas City at both the Kansas City Repertory Theatre (in such performances as Into the Woods, Angels in America, Sunday in the Park With George, Santaland Diaries) and Starlight Theatre (Cinderella). Claybourne made his solo debut at Feinstein’s/54 Below, Broadway’s supper club, and his show You and Me and Sondheim has played to sold out houses around the country and London.

The holiday concert begins with Nearer My God to Thee, a powerhouse arrangement of a familiar hymn, followed by Craig Courtney’s Festival Gloria. Described as “pure praise,” it is a choral arrangement performed by only the most accomplished of choruses. Then HMC shines with One Light (A Hanukkah Song), with music based on Tua Bethlem Dref, a traditional Welsh Carol with words and arrangement by Evan Ramos.

Continuing the more traditional approach to the holidays, HMC will also feature the following in Act I:

  • One of the most popular Christmas Carols of all time, O Come All Ye Faithful (arr. Dan Forrest), originally written in Latin (Adeste Fideles) and attributed to several writers in the 1700s, it was conceived as a Christmas hymn.
  • African Noel (Andre Thomas), whose catchy words are sung in a round;
  • While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Craig Courtney) a new arrangement of a familiar Christmas Carol that is tender but powerful.
  • Hallelujah (from “Mount of Olives”) (Ludwig Van Beethoven/adpt. Dustin S. Cates), is an oratorio by Beethoven portraying the emotional turmoil of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his crucifixion. The Hallelujah has been rendered the most popular of the work’s movements.
  • The Ground/Ola Gjello, “Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.”
  • Hands (arr. Dustin S. Cates), the lyrics say it all:
    If I could tell the world just one thing
    It would be that we’re all ok
    And not to worry because worry is wasteful
    And useless in times like these
    I will not be made useless
    I won’t be idled with despair
    I will gather myself around my faith
    For light does the darkness most fear
  • Go Where I Send Thee (Arr. Paul Caldwell & Sean Ivory), a traditional African-American spiritual song, it is known as “The Holy Baby” or “Born in Bethlehem” and gives a Biblical meaning to the work.

As always, audiences have come to expect Act II of HMC’s annual holiday concert to be pure joy. “With a bit of a holiday pops feel, it’s all kinds of fun,” said Cates. “The hilarious performances by members of Heartland Men’s Chorus are truly what bring this portion of the program to life!”

“Packages With Beaus” will be performed at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 2nd and 4 p.m., Sunday, December 3rd in the C. Stephen Metzler Hall at the historic Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th Street in Kansas City; and Sunday, December 10th, 4:00 p.m., at Yardley Hall in the Carlsen Center, on the campus of Johnson County Community College.

Tickets to the Folly performances are available online at http://hmckc.org/tickets/ or by calling 816-931-3338. Yardley Hall performances can be purchased through the Carlsen Center Box Office at 913-469-4445. Prices range from $18 to $43 with special student pricing at $7 (some ticket fees apply and vary by location). Come as you are, dress is casual, be ready for fun, 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 31st season. Founded with 30 singers to make music, HMC quickly became a safe oasis for a community scarred by fear and hatred and plagued by a virus. Now with 130 singers, Heartland Men’s Chorus is a vital part of Kansas City’s robust arts and cultural scene. HMC has made the historic Folly Theater its performance home for 24 years, and is now expanding to Overland Park with one concert in December. 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 Chorus can be obtained by contacting the chorus office at 816-931-3338.

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). Parking is free and freely available at JCCC’s Carlsen Center.

Sponsors

HMC’s 32nd 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) also are among the many supporters of Heartland Men’s Chorus’ 32nd 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 and following @hmchorus on Twitter.

 

Heartland Men’s Chorus

2017-2018 Performances

From The Heart (Not Part of Season Subscription)

November 10, 2017 | Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, KS

Friday, Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m.
Packages With Beaus (HOLIDAY SHOW)

December 2-3, 2017 | Folly Theater, Kansas City, MO

Sat., Dec. 2, 8:00 p.m.

Sun., Dec. 3, 4:00 p.m.

December 10, 2017 | Yardley Hall, Carlsen Center, JCCC, OPKS

Sun., Dec. 10, 4:00 p.m.
Single tickets to Packages with Beaus are on sale October 16th.
Wrap yourself in HMC holiday packaging and finish it off with the perfect “Beau” to kick off your holiday merriment. At the Folly Theater, December 2-3, we’re beside ourselves to announce Well Strung, the hunkiest boys with bows, will be joining us to share their world-renowned string quartet magic. On December 10, in Johnson County’s Yardley Hall, we’ll be coming back for the second year and bringing our friend and Broadway sensation, Claybourne Elder, fresh from New York in “Sunday in the Park with George.” The perfect combination of familiar carols, choral classics and hilariously zany twists on adored holiday music; Heartland Men’s Chorus has become Kansas City’s favorite non-traditional holiday tradition!


ABBA-Cadabra (SPRING SHOW)

March 24-25, 2018 | Folly Theater, Kansas City, MO

Sat., Mar. 24, 8:00 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 25, 4:00 p.m.
Single tickets go on sale December 11th.

Put on your disco boots and join our dancing queens as HMC celebrates one of the greatest bands in popular music history. Featuring everything in the ABBA repertoire from “Take a Chance on Me!” to “Mamma Mia,” you’re sure to be singing at the top of your lungs before the curtain falls. We plan to be completely silly and have a great time as you say, “Thank you for the music!” Single tickets available online beginning Monday, December 11, 2017.

 

Indivisible (SUMMER SHOW)

June 9-10, 2018 | Folly Theater, Kansas City, MO

Sat., June. 9, 8:00 p.m.

Sun., June 10, 4:00 p.m.

Ever wonder about the phrase “With Liberty and Justice for All?” We certainly do and with the prejudice, inequality, bias and discrimination happening in the world around us, Heartland Men’s Chorus will present our response with, “Indivisible.” HMC will be joining forces with the National World War I Memorial and Museum to celebrate the principles of our great nation’s founding . . . that ALL are created equal. Single tickets available online beginning Monday, March 26, 2018.

 

Season tickets starting at $72 are on sale to the public through Packages With Beaus.

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