Heartland Men’s Chorus Presents “Identify,” An inspirational performance uniting voices against bullying, Created to change hearts and minds.
- Performances March 25 and 26, 2017 at the Folly Theater
- Featuring “Tyler’s Suite” by Stephen Schwartz et al,
- TED Talk Sensation Morgana Bailey,
- Soprano Nancy Nail, &
- Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus
Dustin S. Cates, Artistic Director of Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC), announced Monday their 31th season will continue in March with Identify! Part choral concert, part TED Talk; Identify celebrates living lives of authenticity. Heartland Men’s Chorus will present two completely different experiences in one special performance. They’ll be joined by special guests including 80 voices from Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, TED Talk sensation Morgana Bailey, soloist Nancy Nail, and Jane Clementi, mother of the late Tyler Clementi and chairman of the Tyler Clementi Foundation.
Heartland Men’s Chorus opens Identify with “Tyler’s Suite,” conceived by famed Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin). “Tyler’s Suite” is a nine-piece choral masterpiece dedicated to the memory of Tyler Clementi, a talented young musician who committed suicide after being cyber bullied by his college roommate.
An 18-year-old college student at Rutgers University, Clementi was sharing an intimate moment with another man as his roommate surreptitiously recorded it and put word of it on the internet. The resulting humiliation led Clementi to leap off the George Washington Bridge.
After hearing about the tragedy, Schwartz gathered a team of renowned composers to raise awareness about bullying. “Tyler’s Suite” is based upon hundreds of hours of interviews with the Clementi family, and explores the lives and experiences of Tyler and his family, shining a light of hope on such a devastating tragedy.
“The story of Tyler Clementi, who clearly had so much to offer the world, reminds us that every life lost because of bullying and bigotry is a specific individual tragedy,” said Schwartz. This is why I, and this group of gifted collaborators who have joined me, feel privileged to bring our time, energy and talents to the creation of ‘Tyler’s Suite.’”
Composed in 2016, “Tyler’s Suite” will make its Great Plains premier on the stage of the Folly Theater. It is the music of nine of today’s top composers including Mark Adamo, Ann Hampton Callaway, Craig Carnelia, John Corigliano, Stephen Flaherty, Nolan Gasser, Jake Heggie, Lance Horne, and Stephen Schwartz. “This collection of songs shines a light of hope for a safer, kinder world in line with the mission of the Tyler Clementi Foundation,” according to the foundation website.
Jane Clementi, Tyler’s mother, will be on hand to further the work of the foundation that was founded to prevent bullying through inclusion, assertion of dignity and acceptance. “Curious and adventurous, creative, smart, articulate, cheerful, a wonderful easy going personality, Tyler always had a smile on his face . . . its how he hid himself from the world . . . behind a smile,” says Mrs. Clementi. “Tyler was a peacekeeper, private, didn’t seek attention . . . he was comfortable blending in, but he loved to perform, his true passion was music. He was a gifted violinist.”
Mrs. Clementi will take part in a pre-concert panel to listen and to share, “Conversations help illuminate and elevate issues, and help people to better understand. By bringing topics out into the light, it takes away the stigma of shame and embarrassment . . . and allows people to know that there’s nothing wrong with who they are or who they love.” One hour before each concert, there will be a panel discussion sponsored by GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) open to any concert ticketholder. Moderated by Kansas City Broadcast Journalist Mitch Weber, the panelists will be Jane Clementi, Morgana Bailey Bee, Andy Schuerman from the GLSEN Board, and Debi Jackson, mother of 9-year-old Avery Jackson, the first transgender person to appear on the cover of National Geographic Magazine.
“Tyler’s Suite” will be performed with local artist Nancy Nail as the voice of Jane Clementi. Each of the nine songs takes on the perspective of a different family member in Tyler’s life.
The second portion of “Identify” begins with the Twin Cities Gay men’s Chorus, an award-winning chorus that has built a solid reputation for musical excellence and dynamic programming. The Chorus is under the direction of Artistic Director Dr. Ben Riggs. They join Heartland Men’s Chorus to celebrate diversity, using music as a way to transform, educate and heal, working toward the elimination of homophobia and intolerance through community outreach and song. TCGMG will be singing a series of songs about hope. They will be followed by HMC singing “The Music of Living,” by Dan Forrest, “You Have More Friends Than You Know,” by Warren & Marx, Arranged by HMC Artistic Director Dustin S. Cates, and “Cornerstone,” by Shawn Kirchner. “Following the emotional journey of ‘Tyler’s Suite,’ Act 2 of our concert will celebrate the hope found in living lives of authenticity.”
TED Talk sensation Morgana Bailey had been hiding her true self for 16 years. Coming out in front of an audience of her co-workers, Morgana became a human resources and human rights activist. In her brave TED Talk, she utters four words that had been paralyzing her, realizing her silence had personal, professional and societal consequences. “I am in human resources, a profession that works to welcome, connect and encourage the development of employees,” says Morgana, clearly understanding the irony of her fear. At State Street, she directs the Global Human Resources data management team, maintaining records for approximately 29,000 employees. Now married to wife, Cicely Bee, Morgana will join Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus and Heartland Men’s Chorus in the powerful conclusion to “Identify,” reflecting on what it means to fear the judgment of others, how it makes us judge ourselves and encourage all of us to live lives of authenticity.
Artistic Director Cates concluded, “We close our concert with the combined voices of TCGMC and HMC singing Craig Hella Johnson’s arrangement of ‘I Love You/What a Wonderful World’ and ‘Give ‘Em Hope,’ a piece based on the words of the late gay rights activist Harvey Milk.” Identify will be performed at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 25th and 4 p.m. Sunday, March 26th at the historic Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th Street in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Panel discussions begin one hour prior to each concert in the theater.
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 (some ticket fees apply). Come as you are, dress is casual, 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 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 24 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. In 2009, HMC was featured at the national convention of The American Choral Director Association in Oklahoma City, and in 2003 at the national conference of Chorus America in Kansas City. In 2011, the Chorus received the OUTMusic Award for OUTStanding Male Chorus and in 1998 the GLAAD Leadership Award. 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.