At noon on Saturday, May 21, the HeartAches, a small ensemble made up of members of The Heartland Men’s Chorus, will perform the version of Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” written in honor of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. The performance will be held in the Bank of American Gallery of Union Station Kansas City where the exhibition Diana, A Celebration, is currently on display. The original, handwritten lyrics for “Candle in the Wind” are part of the exhibit, along with the original musical notation. The free concert will include several other songs.
There is more to the HeartAches’ appearance than the connection of “Candle in the Wind” with Princess Diana. The Heartland Men’s Chorus, Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus, has been performing in Kansas City and around the world for 25 years. The not-for-profit volunteer group is a member of GALA Choruses, the international association of the lesbian and gay choral movement that represents 190 choruses in Australia, Europe, South America and North America.
Formed when the AIDS epidemic was claiming many lives in Kansas City and elsewhere, The Heartland Men’s Chorus appeared as a strongly positive force on the arts landscape. Even as some of its members were claimed by the epidemic, the chorus kept singing, bringing several shows a year to the people of Kansas City and building a reputation for excellence. It seemed a united, joyful response to a terrible disease.
At the same time the chorus was making its presence known, Princess Diana was beginning to speak out and bravely confront the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. She was among the first influential people to touch and hold AIDS patients, demonstrating that one would not contract the disease from casual contact. She helped put a true face on the epidemic, showing how it affected not only gay men but straight men, women and children.
In a way, this performance by the HeartAches brings two important forces in the fight against HIV/AIDS together in a moving celebration of courage and caring. It is certain to be an emotional moment for everyone who listens and understands.
Tickets for Diana, A Celebration are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, the Union Station ticket office, the Sprint Center box office and www.unionstation.org. The exhibition will remain at Union Station through June 12.