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.
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. 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. 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.
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!
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