Monday, December 5, 2011

Lots of Praise for Holiday Glee + Mishmosh

I'm combining a bunch of stuff for this post, so bear with me if I seem to be jumping around from topic to topic. I just had all this stuff and I wanted to consolidate it all into one blog post:

Praises for HMC's Holiday Glee

Dr. Joe, Lamar, Oliver ... and the gorgeous and wonderful Holiday Glee Singers: What a glorious concert you offered to 3 audiences this past weekend! Glorious in its quality; glorious in its presentation; glorious in its experiences of love and laughter. Simply, we all who "participated" in our seats were blessed by your talents. And, somehow, you managed to sound even better than before!! Know the work was arduous at times...but your faces showed your hearts and souls were in each and every note. Thank you for a very, very special holiday gift. Blessings, Kathy Dunn & the HMC Board *****

My Mom and I had a terrific time at the concert yesterday. I think she had more fun than anyone there. She equally loved the funny and the humorous music. Given that my father was Jewish and mother is Catholic, we so got the great humor. When we left, she said, "Be sure to get tickets next year." What you and your fellow singers did last night was a mitzvah. Thank you. Amy *****

The Saturday night holiday concert was a topnotch event. The first number, featuring Lamar Sims, was such a delightful beginning. I think it was very unique to feature the chorus’ accompanist, whose vocal talents we’ve never had the opportunity to hear. Several of the numbers (O Tannenbaum, Dona Nobis Pacem, Shehecheyanu) were very well done, and showed the real musicianship of the group. It was such a pleasure to get to hear and see the talents of Wilson L Allen. The Heartaches came through with well-executed pieces that were comfortable to hear. The variety and selection of numbers made for a fast-moving and fun evening.
Thanks! Congratulations! Anson

What a fun concert! And I had fun, too! (I didn't realize until later that all of those leis lit up!) Joe's intro was most kind. “Three Kings Who Followed a Star” was a hoot!
Don't know from my vantage point just how many folks participated in the “Silent Night” signing... but I sure did...a pretty poignant "song". Guest Conductor Don *****

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the show on Friday night. We had a little family kick off to the holidays (two of my husband's brothers and their wives joined us) and had a great time. Translating “Don't Stop Believin'” into the Christmas story? Genius! And of course, Davey Dinckle in now a holiday fave at our house. This was my first time hearing the chorus and I was sincerely impressed by how good you are. One of my sisters-in-law is a music educator who sang with the Symphony Chorus. She was singing your praises as well.
Great job! Thanks for helping us get into the holiday spirit. : ) Lynne


When we closed out the first act with that jubilant version of the Hallelujah chorus, we collectively expressed the profound welling up of joy that too often gets suppressed by the challenges and heartaches of our everyday lives. The great power of our singing is that as we release our own pent-up joy, we liberate others' as well. No matter how sacred or serious the song, if we infuse it with this same joy, it cannot help but to enlighten, inspire, heal and empower. Recently I met someone who said if he sang better, he'd join the chorus. I asked if he could carry a tune. He felt he could. I replied, "that's really all you need. Most important of all is the desire." If you know someone who'd like to join HMC but questions how good he is, encourage him to try out or join HeartLight. For me, nothing compares with spreading the "good news" of being part of HMC. I wish each of you a "friendly, furry, funny and fun" holidays. Enjoy the few week's break until rehearsals start again in January. Be safe! Rob

Here's an article not necessarily about our last show, but about HMC in general from a local publication/blog 435 South:

Lysa Allman-Baldwin
December 1, 2011
Heartland Men’s Chorus celebrates 25 years of music magic.

What started out in 1986 as a small group of men desiring to form a choral group has blossomed into the largest and highest profile gay organization in the Kansas City region—The Heartland Men’s Chorus. Featuring close to 140 talented singers, the Chorus presents an eclectic repertoire of men’s choral music including traditional, classical, gospel, jazz, contemporary and popular styles. Last year more than 8,000 people enjoyed a bevy of their stage and community outreach performances designed to make a positive cultural contribution throughout the Kansas City and wider Midwest region.

Empowerment through Song
Using their voices to “enlighten, inspire, heal and empower,” the Chorus performs its major concerts at the Folly Theater, plus numerous community programs at venues across the city. The goal is multifold: to showcase their unique musical ensemble for new audiences; to benefit charities whose missions align with the organization; and to deliver musical messages to people in places where they feel their voices need to be heard. “By taking our music to where people are, we reach groups and audiences who might never have had the inclination to come downtown for a main stage performance,” says executive director Rick Fisher. “Because we engage our art form to engender societal change, our programs deliver important messages about acceptance and celebrating diversity, and express the unique power of our performances and programming.” Despite their focus on diversity, the Chorus (sometimes confused with the Heart of America Barbershop Chorus or the Heart of America Men’s Chorus) is often perceived as only of interest to the gay community. Not so, says Fisher.“The Chorus is an organization of gay and gay-sensitive people who make a positive cultural contribution to the entire community,” says Fisher. “We have a number of women board members, non-singing support members, audience members, and fans involved with us.”
In fact, the Heartland Men’s Chorus audience surveys reflect a 41 percent female, and 36 percent heterosexual fan base.

The Gift is in the Giving
Since its founding, the Chorus has always focused on giving back. This includes through community performances, complimentary concert tickets, and volunteer efforts benefitting the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Kansas City Free Health Clinic, Missouri Citizens for the Arts, AIDS Walk Kansas City, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, KCPT Public Television, SAVE, Inc., the Topeka AIDS Project, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, just to name a few.
“Giving back not only helps us to reach new audiences, but continues to sustain our organization as well,” says artistic director Joseph Nadeau, DMA. “We are made up of a diverse array of individuals from numerous cultural, socio-economic, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. Therefore, we celebrate the diversity of our membership and community, and continue to find ways to reach out and give back.”

The Chorus’ philanthropic efforts resonate with Johnson County resident Steve Dodge. Initially a season ticket holder inspired by the organization’s vision and focus, he joined to “just sing.” Not long afterwards, Dodge recalls, “I realized that we had a much greater opportunity and responsibility to use our voices to touch people’s hearts and change lives.”
In addition to lending his voice in every concert since joining in 1995 Dodge has also served on the board of directors, and co-chaired their major fundraiser—the Dinner of Note—and their 25th Anniversary Celebration earlier this year. “I have seen tremendous growth in our membership [which] has been matched with growth of our operations, budget, and audiences,” says Dodge.
Now That’s Entertainment!

A Chorus performance is much more than stationary singers on a stage. It is a complete entertainment experience.

“Many of our programs are highly entertaining,” Fisher explains. “We use sets, props, costumes, choreography, lighting and a host of other production elements. It is probably for this reason that we draw large numbers of attendees from a seven-state region for our concerts. Over our 25 years of singing out in Kansas City, we have become a vital part of our city’s diverse arts scene.” Nadeau agrees. “Our performances are engaging, enlightening, emotional and funny,” he says. “Though we often address relevant issues in our concerts, we also sing beautifully and have a great time. Every performance is a unique experience unlike any other choral performance in town.” From December 2-4 the Heartland Men’s Chorus will perform Holiday Glee at the Folly Theater. To learn more about the Chorus and other upcoming performances visit

“We Are All One”
According to Heartland Men’s Chorus board member and Johnson County resident Phyllis Stevens, the organization’s message “really is that we are all one—your uncles, fathers, sons, neighbors, and coworkers. It is what I want to get out to the community at-large, to those who may have a resistance to that message.”

The singing members, who are all volunteers, truly step out in joy to reach others, Stevens says. “The Chorus has gone into smaller communities, houses of worship, and other places where they may not have anticipated a welcoming environment, but in fact turned out to be very welcoming. That gives me hope that people are open to a different message of inclusion and acceptance.” Singing member and Johnson County resident David Pasley is a living testament to how the Chorus changes lives. Invited to attend a performance in 2004 in support of a friend, he had his own internal struggles.

“At that time I had only been separated from my wife for a little over a year, and was not ‘out’ to anyone yet,” he recalls. “I remember being nervous about attending because I was afraid I might see someone I knew, or worse yet, that they would see me and then the truth would be out.”
The next concert he attended was All God’s Children, which included lyrics about someone who attended his first choral concert by a gay men’s chorus. “I remember thinking, ‘This is about me!’” Pasley says. “The chorus and that song reached out to me and touched me, and I was changed.”

A little more than a year later, Pasley joined the Chorus and found himself singing the same song that spoke to him, to others. “That was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, singing the song that changed everything for me and maybe changing someone else’s life as well,” he says. “It took all I had to not cry. Instead, I stood there with my chest out and head held high, proud of who I am and finally ‘out’ to everyone that I know.” To others Pasley says, “Life gets better and there is a world of happiness to be discovered. Be yourself and be proud.”

I read this and thought it was an amazing story From GLAAD:

Imagine answering the phone and hearing, "Hello Janice, this is Barack Obama." That's exactly what happened to me in April of last year. President Obama called to tell me he had issued a memorandum requiring hospitals to grant visitation to same-sex partners after reading a news article about my family. My story, which GLAAD helped me and the media tell, begins with the death of my beloved partner Lisa in 2007.

When we set out on a family cruise with three of our adopted children in South Florida, we could never have known that Lisa would experience a brain aneurysm. At the hospital, I tried to follow the gurney carrying a critically ill Lisa into the trauma bay, but was told to go to the waiting area. After a short while, I was approached by a social worker who told me that I was "in an anti-gay city and state" and that I would not be allowed to see Lisa or make decisions about her care without a health care proxy. I contacted close friends back in Olympia who faxed the necessary documents over to the hospital while I continued to pace the tiny waiting room with our anxious children.

We watched as other families were welcomed back to see their loved ones, and the anger and frustration grew inside of me as I waited for someone to acknowledge receipt of the forms that guaranteed my legal rights as Lisa's partner. Finally, a surgeon came out to inform me that Lisa had suffered massive bleeding and asked my consent to place a pressure monitor on her brain. That was the only indication I had that the hospital had received our documents.

I was not able to join Lisa until the priest arrived to administer her Last Rites. For the first time since arriving at the hospital, I was allowed to hold her hand for a few minutes. Then, I was ushered back out into the waiting room.

The children and I needed to be with Lisa during her final hours, yet we were repeatedly denied. The hospital, in their unwillingness to recognize us as a family, forced Lisa to leave this Earth without us by her side. I felt like a failure

After Lisa's passing, I decided something needed to be done to spare other couples the despair and helplessness that I felt. I filed a federal lawsuit against the hospital. During this process, I was asked if I would tell my story to the media. I knew it was a story that needed to be told, but I soon realized that I was not prepared to deal with the media on my own. That's when I reached out to GLAAD, because I knew that they are experts in helping LGBT people share their stories in the media and in making sure that LGBT stories are told fairly and accurately.

GLAAD helped me tell my story and helped me explain that this is not a "gay right" it's a human right to be there for the one you love in their moment of greatest need. In the months that have passed, my story has touched the hearts of so many people thanks to GLAAD.

It was only with GLAAD's help that I began championing a much larger cause that touches all of our lives the struggle for equality. And through the power of storytelling, Americans all over this country heard my voice, including President Obama who saw my story in the New York Times and took action by issuing an executive order to make sure this never happens to gay or lesbian families again. I also recently received the Presidential Citizens Medal for telling our story and bringing the issue of hospital visitation for same-sex partners to the forefront of national attention.

GLAAD stood by me to help share my story; a story that changed federal law.

If you have a second, go check out my great friend Bukeka's blog. She's arrived back from her trip to South Africa and has blogged about her experiences. Get your tissues ready, it's seriously some amazing reading.