Two Gay Men’s Choruses Honor Legacy of Harvey Milk
Two gay men’s choruses will come together in performances across Missouri to celebrate the life and legacy of civil rights icon Harvey Milk. Heartland Men’s Chorus and Gateway Men’s Chorus will present “I Am Harvey Milk,” March 29 and 30 at the Folly Theater in Kansas City with additional performances in St. Louis and Columbia, Missouri.
Written by Tony® and Grammy Award® nominated composer Andrew Lippa (Broadway’s “The Wild Party,” “The Addams Family” and “Big Fish”) “I Am Harvey Milk” tells the moving story of Milk’s life from his childhood to his assassination.
Harvey Milk became the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk served almost 11 months in office and was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city. On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned.
Despite his short career in politics, Milk became an icon in San Francisco and a martyr in the gay community. Anne Kronenberg, his final campaign manager, wrote of him: “What set Harvey apart from you or me was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us.” He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
Heartland Men’s Chorus joined five other gay men’s choruses across North America to commission “I Am Harvey Milk” in 2013, thirty-five years after Milk’s assassination.
“It’s not a straight-forward biography,” says HMC’s executive director Rick Fisher. “The songs touch on universal themes including bullying, activism, and the building of community.”
Each chorus will perform brief individual sets with repertoire inspired by Milk’s quote, “You gotta give ‘em hope,” then come together to perform Lippa’s “I Am Harvey Milk.” Joining the 200 chorus members on stage are soprano Sylvia Stoner, tenor Tom Lancaster as Harvey Milk, and Cam Burns as the young Harvey.
The Kansas City performances will be conducted by Dr. Tim Seelig, who conducted the 2013 world premiere production in San Francisco. Milk’s story is entwined with the history of San Francisco as well as the history of the LGBT choral movement: the candlelight vigil on the night of his assignation in 1978 marked the first public performance by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.
“This is not a story specific to San Francisco,” says Seelig. “This is about a man who stepped forward and did something remarkable –even though he was not particularly remarkable by most accounts. It is about a man who became a hero and a martyr for what he believed. Composer Andrew Lippa’s goal was that every single person who hears this will somehow resonate with the person who was Harvey Milk and look for the part of Harvey within them.”
Heartland Men’s Chorus and Gateway Men’s Chorus present “I Am Harvey Milk” at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, March 29 and 4:00 p.m. Sunday, March 30 at the Folly Theater, 300 West 12th Street, Kansas City, Mo. Tickets are $15-$40 and can be purchased online at https://hmckc.org or by calling 816-931-3338
The choruses will present an encore performance at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at Washington University’s 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave, St Louis, Mo. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at http://www.gmcstl.org.
The choruses will present a free preview performance at 7:00 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at Missouri United Methodist Church, 204 S 9th St, Columbia, Mo. Presented by the University of Missouri LGBTQ Resource Center, the performance is free and open to the public.
Program notes with information on the concert, Milk’s life, political career and assassination are available online at https://hmckc.org/milk.
High resolution photos of the chorus may be downloaded at https://hmckc.org/photos.
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For more information:
Rick Fisher, Executive Director
Heartland Men’s Chorus
Kansas City Direct Response Marketing