Heartland Men’s Chorus and the Lawrence Children’s Choir celebrate America’s modern families

Modern FamiliesHeartland Men’s Chorus will celebrate the diversity of the American family in its spring concert “Modern Families,” March 28 and 29, 2015, at the Folly Theater. The concert is the latest in the group’s series of “musical documentaries” that use music, narration and multi-media elements to illustrate a particular social issue.

Artistic director Dustin S. Cates has a personal connection to the topic. He and his husband are the parents of a 3 year-old son.

“I wanted to celebrate the love and dignity that all families deserve,” said Cates. “There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ family. It seems every person defines the word family in slightly different way.”

As expected from a gay men’s chorus, HMC will present a number of songs and stories specific to LGBT families, but Cates expects the concert to appeal to people from all types of families. The music included is diverse, including classical works, contemporary pop songs and rap.

Lawrence Children’s Choir will begin the concert with a set of four songs. Heartland Men’s Chorus will join them for “The Weaver,” a new commission by local composer Jacob Narverud. HMC will finish the first act with musical selections celebrating love and family, including “Luminescence,” a song written by Dr. Andrea Ramsey commemorating the birth of Cates’s son, Emmaus.

The musical documentary comprises the concert’s second act, and includes “Not My Father’s Son” from the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, Annie Lennox’s “A Thousand Beautiful Things” and Rene Clausen’s “Set Me as a Seal.” The chorus will reprise two songs by composer Robert Seeley that have been popular in previous performances: the marriage equality anthem “Marry Us” and the plaintive “In My Mother’s Eyes.”

For the first time in its history, the chorus will perform a contemporary rap number, Ryan Lewis and Macklemore’s “Same Love,” featuring a guest appearance by local rap artist EvoKlone Alex.

Narration linking the songs together comes from the stories of individual chorus members, as well as stories collected from members of the Midwest Alternative Family Alliance (MAFA), a local nonprofit group that acts as catalyst for social action on behalf of LGBT families.

Nancy Bean, a Kansas City adoption social worker and member of MAFA, will facilitate a pre-show discussion on the topic of family building in the LGBT community beginning 20 minutes prior to each performance.

To further illustrate the diversity in contemporary families, audience members are invited to submit photos of their “modern families” via the chorus’s website, to be shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #OurModernFamilies. To date, more than 50 photos have been received.

“Modern Families” is the second concert in the HMC’s 29th season. The group regularly performs with more than 120 singers, and draws the largest audience for choral music in the region.

Heartland Men’s Chorus presents “Modern Families” at 8:00 p.m. March 28, and 4:00 p.m. on March 30. All performances are at the Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th Street, Kansas City, Mo. Tickets range in price from $15-$40 and are available at https://hmckc.org or by calling 816-931-3338.


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