Matthew Schulte joined the HMC Board in 2015.

He is also a member of the Kansas City Royals Family. Matthew started with the Royals 10 years ago in the front office. While he started out in the Ticket Sales department, he has spent most of his time in various roles within the Marketing team. He now serves as the Senior Manager of Special Events and Promotions and is responsible for the giveaway items and special ballpark events. He was involved in executing MLB Jewel events that the Royals hosted, including the 2012 All-Star Game Festivities, 2014 Postseason, and the 2015 World Championship.

He was also a member of the Kansas City Chamber’s Centurions Leadership Program and received an ACE Diversity Award from this same Chamber. 

Cool and marvelous

Kristin Shafel Omiccioli |

Performing for a sold-out Folly Theater last Saturday night, the Heartland Men’s Chorus continued its holiday tradition with the big band jazz-inspired program Cool Yule and special guest artist Marilyn Maye. In its first-ever collaboration with the Mid America Freedom Band, members of the group accompanied HMC as the Mighty Mo Combo. The combo laid a respectable foundation for the choir, with local trumpeter Al Pearson notably standing out as a soloist. HMC’s regular rhythm section Lamar Sims, piano; Ray DiMarchi, drums; and Rick Huyett, electric bass) kept a comfortable but tight beat throughout.

Typical of HMC shows, the first half showcased more standard repertoire including “Happy Holidays/Holiday Inn,” “Winter Weather/Let it Snow,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” and “Jing-a-Ling.” The men were exceptional on these tunes—a full, meaty sound, rich harmonies, crisp diction, and strong sustain.

Chorus member John Edmonds displayed a confident, laid-back swagger during his feature, “Little Jack Frost Get Lost.” The six distinct voices of HMC’s subset ensemble the Heartaches blended well to convey a tender, affecting interpretation of the sweet “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

HMC’s set on the second half of the concert, as usual, featured more playful, silly repertoire. Donning red scarves and showing off light choreography (including jazz thumbs…) the men shimmied and swayed to “Cool Yule,” “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” and more. My favorite selection of the night was “Hot Hannukah” on the second half. HMC pulled out all the stops with this one—an expressive, hammy solo from chorus member Steven Jeffrey Karlin, a polyphonic texture, high energy, Gene Krupa-style drumming by DiMarchi, and festive lighting design made “Hot Hannukah” an irresistible showstopper.

A vision in sparkling red velvet, Marilyn Maye took the stage with her combo (Billy Stritch, piano; Andy Hall, double bass; and Jim Eklof, drums) for two sets during the concert. Maye’s sets were high-spirited cabarets focused more on Broadway and big band hits than Christmas music, including “Happiness is a Thing Called Joe,” “Mountain Greenery,” and jazzed out versions of “Wouldn’t It be Loverly?” and “On the Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady. Maye was her inimitable self, with expert showmanship and a blithe, sassy sense of humor.

Maye’s final selections brought the house down, though, holding the audience in rapt attention with these anthems of life’s mysteries, breakdowns, and wonders: James Taylor’s “Secret of Life” and the Butler/Molinary song “Here’s to Life,” made famous by Shirley Horn.

A playful back-and-forth between Maye and the men on “Big Time/Open a New Window” and “It’s Today” closed the concert, followed by an encore of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and a standing ovation. Despite a few slight performance issues—spots of imbalance, shaky intonation, and hesitant entrances—the Heartland Men’s Chorus never fails to elicit plenty of smiles, laughter, and good cheer in its always heartfelt and entertaining programs, no matter the time of year.

Heartland Men’s Chorus
Cool Yule with Marilyn Maye
Friday, November 30­­–Sunday, December 2 (Reviewed Saturday, December 1)
Folly Theater
300 W. 12th St. Kansas City, MO

Marilyn Maye and Heartland Men’s Chorus have a hit with ‘Cool Yule’

Steve Wilson |

Kansas City native and musical icon Marilyn Maye joined the Heartland Men’s Chorus at the Folly Theater for “Cool Yule, Big Jazz Band and Marilyn Maye!” on Friday night. Maye made a record 76 appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Her recording of “Too Late Now” was selected by the Arts Council of the Smithsonian Institution for its album of the 110 Best American Compositions of the Twentieth Century.

The beautiful voices of 150-plus singers combined marvelously with the Mid America Freedom Band as they opened the program with Irving Berlins “Happy Holidays” and “Holiday Inn”. The chorus performed three more songs before the Heartaches took to the stage and sung “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as a tribute for their Ad Astra group. Ad Astra is Latin for “to the stars” and the group is filled with members of the chorus who have passed this year and previous years.

After the dedication to the Ad Astra group it was up to soloist John Edmonds, who also performed with the Heartaches, to bring holiday cheer back to the audience with his rendition of “Little Jack Frost Get Lost.” In many of the programs performed by the chorus the audience has been treated to solo performances by Edmonds.

Marilyn Maye took center stage and performed several selections with her personal musicians before intermission. It is fantastic to see Maye take to a Kansas City stage one more time to entertain the audience. Her voice is as strong as ever and her showmanship is second to none. She has gotten older and may occasionally forget a word or line or verse, but she makes light of it with humor. “Little naps are great” she said after asking her conductor to begin a song over.

After the intermission the chorus returned to the stage and performed “Cool Yule”, written by Steve Allen. The next few selections including “Boogie Woogie Santa Clause” and “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas” were lively, upbeat and brought holiday magic to the audience’s ears.

Soloist Steven Jeffrey Karlin sung “Hot Hannukah” before Marilyn Maye returned to the stage and performed several more selections, some of which included the Heartland Men’s Chorus.

In this era of war, hunger, poverty, discrimination and disease it would hard to imagine a holiday season without a visit to the Heartland Men’s Chorus. This is one of the few gifts that gets better every time it is unwrapped.

Hotel Phillips Joins HMC as Underwriting Partner

Heartland Men’s Chorus, Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, is pleased to announce Hotel Phillips as our Underwriting Partner for our 27th season.

This is the fifth season Hotel Phillips has supported the Chorus by providing rooms and banquet facilities for our visiting guests and receptions for audience members.

As an Underwriting Partner, Hotel Phillips will be recognized in all Chorus marketing and printed materials for the season and will receive verbal recognition from the stage before each concert.

The Hotel Phillips isKansas City’s downtown boutique hotel that is both historic and hip. It’s located within walking distance of everything the downtown experience has to offer. The hotel underwent a complete renovation last year offering guests luxury rooms with premium service.