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A newly commissioned oratorio for men's voices, soloists and chamber ensemble that tells the story of the Unknown Soldier of WWI.
A newly commissioned oratorio for men's voices, soloists and chamber ensemble that tells the story of the Unknown Soldier of WWI.
38 backers pledged $8,025 to help bring this project to life.

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Join an Army of supporters who wish to commemorate the World War I (WWI) Centennial by becoming co-commissioners of a major new choral work that honors all who have served and sacrificed.

Kansas City is home to the National World War I Museum and Memorial.  

National WWI Museum and Memorial - Kansas City (Credit: Charvex / Wikimedia Commons)
National WWI Museum and Memorial - Kansas City (Credit: Charvex / Wikimedia Commons)

Given this connection to WWI and to commemorate the war's centennial, Heartland Men's Chorus has commissioned an oratorio for men’s voices, soloists, and chamber ensemble titled We, The Unknown (WETU). 

WETU tells the story of how America's first Unknown Soldier was selected. According to the Arlington National Cemetery website, the story goes like this:

Courtesy of https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Explore/Tomb-of-the-Unknown-Soldier
Courtesy of https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Explore/Tomb-of-the-Unknown-Soldier
Credit: Carol V. Horos & www.smootheedges.com
Credit: Carol V. Horos & www.smootheedges.com

WETU envisions Sgt. Younger's daunting task and gives voice to his internal thoughts as he undertakes it. It also gives voice to the four Soldiers from whom the Unknown is chosen: one African American, one gay, one told from the perspective of his mother, and one expressing fear of going into battle. 

Those who have heard the WETU story have found it resonates personally and powerfully. Almost everyone has a connection to someone who has served, to the values of selfless service and sacrifice, and to honoring the fallen.

HMC has raised approximately two-thirds of the funds needed to bring this oratorio to the stage. It believes others will want to be part of this undertaking. WETU not only seeks to honor those who served in WWI but all who have served and sacrificed in the century since, many in silence about their authentic selves. Your contributions to this project will make you not only co-commissioners of the choral work but also co-honorers of these men and women.

The Composer  

Reviewed as “gorgeous” (Washington Post) and “stunning” (Lawrence Journal-World), the music of Timothy C. Takach has risen fast in the concert world. Applauded for his melodic lines and rich, intriguing harmonies, Takach has received commissions from various organizations including the the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, St. Olaf Band, Cantus, Pavia Winds, Lorelei Ensemble, VocalEssence, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, The Rose Ensemble, and numerous high school and university choirs. His compositions have been performed on A Prairie Home Companion, The Boston Pops holiday tour, multiple All-State and festival programs and at venues such as the Library of Congress, Kennedy Center and Royal Opera House Muscat.

Timothy C. Takach
Timothy C. Takach

Takach is not unfamiliar with WWI, as he co-created the theatrical production of All is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914, by Peter Rothstein. The critically-adored show has had over 100 performances since its premiere in 2006.

The Librettists

The libretto for We, The Unknown is a mix of original text by Kansas City poet, Pat Daneman, and Lt. Col Robert Hill, U.S. Army, Retired (who conceived WETU and sings with HMC) and poetry and texts of the period. The libretto includes Alan Seeger's I Have a Rendezvous with Death and John McCrae's In Flanders Fields. 

Excerpt (lyrics by Daneman & Hill)
Excerpt (lyrics by Daneman & Hill)

Heartland Men's Chorus

Heartland Men's Chorus (HMC)
Heartland Men's Chorus (HMC)

Now in its 32nd season, Heartland Men’s Chorus provides excellence in performance while advancing men’s choral music, building community, and reaching out to diverse audiences. The members of HMC have joined together for the purpose of making music as a not-for-profit, volunteer chorus of gay and gay-sensitive people who are making a positive cultural contribution to the entire community.   The Chorus' artistic director is Dustin Cates and its executive director is Rick Fisher.

HMC performs a varied repertoire of music, including jazz, Broadway, popular and classical works. In recent years, the Chorus has become known for its musical documentary format which uses music, narration and multi-media to illustrate issues such as social justice, bullying, coming out, and new definitions of family. 

Heartland Men’s Chorus is registered with the IRS as a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

Indivisible: Songs of Resistance and Remembrance

WETU will be part of HMC’s summer concert, Indivisible: Songs of Resistance and Remembrance, that explores the dynamic that occurs between patriotism and protest in a democracy. Sometimes, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. showed us, protest becomes a means of expressing one’s patriotism or love of country. Similarly, those who have fought and died for our nation—particularly those in uniform—do so in order to preserve one of democracy’s most cherished and fundamental rights—that of free expression, including protest.

The concert will be June 9th and 10th at the C. Stephen Metzler Hall at the Folly Theater, downtown Kansas City. Tickets go on sale March 26 through the chorus website, http://hmckc.org. 

The reward levels are named after the battles/campaigns in which U.S. servicemen fought between 1917 and 1918. 

Each level builds on all previous levels (except for tickets to world premiere, which are for the exact number specified):

Cambrai - For a donation of $10 or more, you'll receive our sincere thanks delivered via a hand-written note, along with a personalized bookmark. Your name will also appear on the WeTheUnknown.org website.

Vittorio Veneto - For a donation of $25 or more, you'll also be acknowledged in the concert playbill as a donor to the We, The Unknown (WETU) Project and receive a high-res digital photo of the production to be used as a screensaver. 

Lys - For a donation of $50 or more, you'll also receive a digital photo album of the concert and related events, with captions.

Montdidier-Noyon - For a donation of $100 or more, you'll also receive a limited-edition enamel pin of a red poppy, symbolic of WWI.

Champagne-Marne - For a donation of $150 or more, you'll also receive a printed concert playbill, signed by the artistic team.

Aisne-Marne - For a donation of $250 or more, you'll also receive an Indivisible concert poster, signed by HMC (upon request, as some might prefer a clean poster).

Somme Offensive - For a donation of $500 or more, you'll receive one (1) ticket to the WETU world premiere (travel & lodging not included) and also receive a WETU T-Shirt.

St. Mihiel - For a donation of $750 or more, you'll also receive an audio recording of the WETU oratorio, along with a digital copy of the libretto, with sheet music for one song, selected by the composer.

Ypres-Lys - For a donation of $1000 or more, you'll receive two (2) tickets to the WETU world premiere, June 9, 2018 (travel & lodging not included), and also membership in the exclusive HMC Heartland Soul Society (to include a Society lapel pin).  

Meuse-Argonne - For a donation of $2500 or more, you'll receive four (4) tickets to the WETU world premiere, June 9, 2018 (travel & lodging not included), and also attendance at a pre-concert reception to meet the creative team and a personal tour of the National World War I Museum and Memorial.  

$12,500+   Achieving this threshold or greater will enable HMC to enhance production of the world premiere to include these aspects, among others:

  • Motion video and other graphical elements.
  • First-rate musicians to be part of the chamber ensemble.
  • Period costuming and more realistic set design.
  • High-fidelity recording of the oratorio.

Additionally, this threshold will enable us to provide VIP seating to 15 veterans identified by local non-profits as deserving of recognition. These veterans may be dealing with homelessness or emotional and physical challenges, or simply facing difficulty in transitioning out of the military into civilian life.

 _________________________________________________________

Facts about WWI provided in the rewards section in the right column come from http://www.american-historama.org/1913-1928-ww1-prohibition-era/american-battles-in-wwi.htm

________________________________________________________

Risks and challenges

We are committed to premiering We, The Unknown, June 9 & 10, 2018 at the Folly Theater, downtown Kansas City. As previously mentioned, approximately two-thirds of the money to underwrite the commission has already been raised and while we will likely find ways to bridge the difference, we feel strongly that "democratizing" the process and allowing everyone interested in history, service to country, the military, equality, justice, and honoring the Unknown should be part of this project.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Cambrai

    U.S. Engineers supported the British at Cambrai, the first time American doughboys faced the enemy on the front lines.

    For a donation of $10 or more, you'll receive our sincere thanks delivered via a hand-written note, along with a personalized bookmark. Your name will also appear on the WeTheUnknown.org website.

    Each subsequent reward builds on (includes) all previous.

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    Vittorio Veneto

    The Battle of Vittorio Veneto, on the Italian Front, was the last great offensive against the Austro-Hungarian Empire in which U.S. forces fought.

    For a donation of $25 or more, you'll ALSO be acknowledged in the concert playbill as a donor to We, The Unknown and receive a high-res digital photo of the production to be used as a screensaver.

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    Lys

    Roughly 500 American troops participated in the Battle of Lys, fought near the Lys River in Flanders.

    For a donation of $50 or more, you'll ALSO receive a digital photo album of the concert and related events, with captions.

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    Montdidier-Noyon

    This battle was fought primary by the French, supported by a small contingent of Americans with tanks.

    For a donation of $100 or more, you'll ALSO receive a limited edition enamel pin of a red poppy, symbolic of WWI, on a WETU placard.

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    Champagne-Marne

    The German offensive was stopped by a massive French counter-attack of four French armies, with American, British and Italian divisions in support

    For a donation of $150 or more, you'll ALSO receive a printed concert playbill, signed by the artistic team.

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    Aisne-Marne

    The Aisne-Marne Campaign included three battles: Cantigny, Chateau-Thierry, and Belleau Wood. At Belleau Wood, the Marines lost 10,000 men but ultimately prevailed.

    For a donation of $250 or more, you'll ALSO receive an Indivisible concert poster, signed by HMC (upon request as some might prefer a clean poster).

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    Somme Offensive

    The Somme Offensive's objective was to breach the main Hindenburg Line. Roughly 54,000 Americans participated in the Second Battle of the Somme.

    For a donation of $500 or more, you'll receive one (1) ticket to the WETU world premiere, June 9, 2018 (travel & lodging not included), and ALSO a WETU T-shirt.

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    St. Mihel

    300,000 American soldiers of the First Army--under the direct command of General Pershing--attacked the German lines south of Verdun and cleared the German-held salient.

    For a donation of $750 or more, you'll ALSO receive an audio recording of the WETU oratorio, along with a digital copy of the libretto, with sheet music for one song, selected by the composer.

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    Ypres-Lys

    Nearly 108,000 Americans participated in the Ypres-Lys Campaign which lasted from August through November 1918.

    For a donation of $1000 or more, you'll receive two (2) tickets to the WETU world premiere, June 9, 2018 (travel & lodging not included), and ALSO membership in the exclusive HMC Heartland Soul Society (to include a Society lapel pin).

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    Meuse-Argonne

    Also known as the Battle of the Argonne Forest, approximately 117,000 U.S. servicemen died in the last major battle before the armistice, some up to the very last minute of the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month.

    For a donation of $2500 or more, you'll receive four (4) tickets to the WETU world premiere, June 9, 2018 (travel & lodging not included), and ALSO attendance at a pre-concert reception to meet the creative team and a personal tour of the National WWI Museum and Memorial

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Funding period

- (30 days)