Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Absolutely Elated About This

Announcing HMC’s New Artistic Director

Heartland Men’s Chorus is excited to announce Dustin Cates as its new artistic director. Cates will assume the role starting with the 2014-2015 season, the 29th season for the chorus.

A search committee comprised of chorus members, past board chairs, community arts leaders, donors and chorus staff conducted a months-long nationwide search to fill the position.“

Dustin exhibited the best balance of all the many attributes the committee was looking for in an artistic director,” says Keith Wiedenkeller, chair of HMC’s board of directors, who also led the search committee.“

His unique blend of choral musical expertise, programming experience, conducting style, people skills, personal charisma, and passion are a great fit for where the chorus is now, but more importantly, for where we hope to be in the future.”

Cates is currently Director of Choral Activities at Olathe East High School and a member of the music ministry team at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, and a Master of Science in School Leadership from Baker University. He is a member of the National Association for Music Education (NAME) and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). He serves on the Alumni Board for the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance and is the President-Elect of the Kansas Choral Directors Association (KCDA), a group that awarded him the Kansas Outstanding Young Choral Director Award in 2009.

Cates first worked with Heartland Men’s Chorus this spring, as a guest conductor for I Am Harvey Milk.“

I am humbled and honored to have been named artistic director of Heartland Men’s Chorus,” says Cates. “Over the past 28 years, it has become clear that HMC plays a vital role in the richness of Kansas City. It is my hope that we can build on our strong history of music-making, service, and advocacy to transform the lives of our singers and our community by spreading a message of inclusivivity, hope, and love.”

Cates will be the fourth artistic director in HMC’s history, following Gina Scaggs Epifano, Reuben Reynolds III, and Dr. Joseph Nadeau.

The chorus will conclude its 2013-2014 season with Vegas, Baby, June 13-15 at the Folly Theater, under the leadership of guest conductor Anthony Edwards. The concerts will coincide with the announcement of the 2014-2015 season, the first under the artistic leadership of Mr. Cates.

Proudly singing out in Kansas City since 1986, Heartland Men’s Chorus is a not-for-profit, volunteer chorus of gay and gay-sensitive people who are making a positive cultural contribution to the entire community. HMC performs a varied repertoire of music, including jazz, Broadway, popular and classical works, and regularly performs with more than 130 singers. In recent years, the chorus has become known for its musical documentary format which uses music, narration and multi-media to illustrate issues of social justice. The chorus performs a three concert season at the historic Folly Theater to an annual audience of more than 7,000, and performs dozens of community outreach performances each year throughout the Midwest.

Getting to Know You: A Musical Q & A 

What music did you listen to growing up?

I listened to a pretty wide variety of music. My mix-tapes included hip-hop, R&B, country, pop, classical and (of course) musicals!

We’ve seen you jogging—what’s on your iPod workout playlist?

Well, I’m a choir geek, so there’s plenty of choral music on my playlist but I’ve also got some current stuff like Lorde, Katy Perry, Bastille, Pentatonix and a sweet techno version of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5!”

What choral or classical work gives you goosebumps?

One of my favorite time periods in music history is the Renaissance. There is so much great choral music from this era. One of my favorites is the William Byrd “Ave Verum Corpus.” This piece and others like it have lots of overlapping vocal lines that rise and fall which ultimately culminate in a beautiful chord—there’s nothing better!

What’s the first song you taught to (or sang to) your son, Emmaus?

We adopted Emmaus in late August. School had started and my a cappella choir at Shawnee Mission South was working on a piece called “I Dreamed of Rain.” It’s a great arrangement of a song by jazz singer Jan Garret. The emotions and feelings that flood your heart when you become a new Dad took this really beautiful piece of music to a new, even more meaningful place. 

Now that Emmaus is a toddler he’s beginning to develop his own repertoire. His current top 5 include: “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schon” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. (Okay…not really.)

You’ve conducted high school students, church choirs, and the men of HMC. Which group is harder to control?

While there are many similarities, maintaining order in a choir full freshman boys is a challenge like none other on the face of the earth.

What is the first song you ever sang in public?

“Silent Night” in my preschool Christmas program.

Do you and your husband have a song that you consider “your song?”

We’ve never had a song that was “ours”. I suppose the closest thing would be “Beautiful Things” by Michael and Lisa Gungor. Raymond, Emmaus and I walked down the aisle at our wedding to this song. The text speaks to how powerful love is in transforming our lives: All this pain, I wonder if I’ll ever find my way, I wonder if my life could really change at all. You make beautiful things; you make beautiful things out of dust. You make beautiful things; you make beautiful things out of us.

Do you have a “guilty pleasure” song that you’re embarrassed to admit you love?

I love Christmas. I listen to Christmas music all year long. It’s sort of an addiction…along with the eight Christmas trees.

You guest conducted HMC in spring. What surprised you about the experience?

I agreed to guest conduct HMC thinking it would be fun. I knew the chorus was outstanding and collaborating with Tim Seelig would be a valuable experience. Both of those observations turned out to be true. But then I got to know the guys and their stories and the experience that I thought was going to be “fun” became transformational. I was taken by what a powerful community HMC is both to its members and to Kansas City.

What song makes you want to get up and dance?

I’m not certain it takes a song but rather a number of drinks and good friends.

What is one musical piece you can’t wait to perform with HMC?

Raymond and I commissioned my friend Andrea Ramsey, to write a piece in honor of the birth of our son Emmaus and the death of my father. The text was written by Blair Ginsburg, a former student of mine who is studying Creative Writing at KU. My chamber choir at Olathe East premiered the piece, “Luminescence,” in 2013. It was also performed at the National American Choral Director’s Association convention last spring. I’ve asked Andrea if she would write a setting for men’s voices to premier with HMC!

© 2012 Heartland Men's Chorus PO Box 32374, Kansas City, MO 64171-5374Phone: 816-931-3338 Fax: 816-531-1367