The Heartland Men’s Chorus has announced its 2017-18 season, and it’s full of the joyful and poignant programming the group’s many fans have come to expect. The ensemble is also adding a fall performance to brighten dreary November.
Dustin Cates, who is beginning his fourth season as the group’s artistic director and conductor, says the additional concert, “From the Heart,” is helping fulfill his vision.
“We’re probably one of 10 large gay men’s choruses in the country, and we’re highly respected in that community. But the biggest choruses and the most successful choruses have an expanded season, so I’m really proud that we’ve able to do that,” he says.
Adding the concert has taken some money out of the group’s budget, but Cates says that it’s worth it.
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“From the Heart” will feature some of the most popular works the Heartland Men’s Chorus has performed over the years. In addition to songs by Annie Lennox, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Kansas hit “Dust in the Wind,” music by Kansas City composer Mark Hayes will feature prominently. Hayes, who has contributed many works to the chorus over the years, will perform several piano solos from his recently released album.
The chorus’s holiday concerts are more fun than a mug of spiked eggnog, and Cates says this year’s holiday extravaganza, “Packages With Beaus,” will be extra intoxicating.
“I really work hard to make our holiday concert show Heartland Men’s Chorus at its best,” he says. “We pull out the camp and drag queens and costumes to show what we can do from the entertainment perspective, but we’re also going to be singing Beethoven and Handel, which will show the kind of musicality that we have.”
This year’s holiday concerts will take place at two locations, the Folly Theater and Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College. There will be different guest performers at each location.
Well-Strung, an all-male, all-singing string quartet from New York City, will join the chorus at the Folly, and Claybourne Elder, who recently starred with Jake Gyllenhaal in a Broadway production of “Sunday in the Park With George,” will be the special guest for the Yardley Hall performance.
In March, the Heartland Men’s Chorus will present “ABBA-Cadabra,” a concert of the Swedish group’s megahits. With the chorus’s penchant for razzle-dazzle, it’s certain to overflow with fabulousness.
“It will be a singalong concert, which I think will be a lot of fun,” Cates says. “It was put together for a gay men’s chorus by David Maddux, a composer who writes a lot of shows for choruses all over the country. ABBA is a band everybody loves, so we’ll be amping up the production for that one.”
The season will conclude on a more serious note with “Indivisible,” a collaboration with the National World War I Memorial and Museum. The June concert at the Folly will celebrate the notion of liberty and justice for all. The first half will feature songs of resistance movements, songs of remembrance and patriotic songs. On the second half, the chorus will present the world premiere of a commissioned work about the creation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“I think the concert will speak to the reason why Heartland Men’s Chorus exists,” Cates said. “To change hearts and minds and to bring people together.”
Nov. 10: “From the Heart” (Church of the Resurrection, 13720 Roe Ave., Leawood). Dec. 2-3: “Packages With Beaus” with Well Strung (Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St.) and Dec. 10 with Claybourne Elder at Yardley Hall, Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park. March 24-25, 2018: “ABBA-Cadabra” (Folly Theater). June 9-10: “Indivisible” (Folly Theater)
For more information, visit hmckc.org.