A decade has passed since the Heart of America Men’s Chorus sang its first holiday program.
Within that time, the annual concert has become a yuletide tradition for many. The choral group has gained a significant following and has become a visible part of the city’s arts community. This weekend, its 10th anniversary celebrations will crescendo with “Let It Snow” at Newman University’s De Mattias Fine Arts Center.
“If you aren’t already in the holiday spirit, expect to walk out with Christmas cheer,” said Eric Nachtigal, chorus president. “People always come out in good spirits and full of joy.”
Nachtigal said this year’s show will blend tradition, humor and poignancy. The family-friendly program will include traditional renditions of songs like “Jingle Bells” as well as ones with more of a religious tone such as “Angel Song.” It’s being directed by Deanne Zogleman, who is also the Newman University director of choral music. She came on board last winter and is finishing up her first full year in this role. Nachtigal praised her involvement, saying she brings a matchless spirit and enormous energy.
“Our Christmas shows are both entertaining and moving at the same time,” he said. “You’ll hear the whole gamut of Christmas songs from traditional Christmas carols to good old-fashioned holiday laughs. It’s not uncommon for people to be moved to tears, too.”
The Heart of America Men’s Chorus puts on three main performances each year. The group has 30 to 40 active members, a few of whom have been involved since the beginning.
The holiday concert is among the group’s most popular and well attended events. It often sells out. The program will last about an hour and 15 minutes and include a 10-minute intermission.
In keeping with one of the core tenets of the group’s mission, it has designated Interfaith Ministries’ Operation Holiday as the beneficiary charity for the concert. Nachtigal said the group tries to partner with local charities as much as possible. Attendees are encouraged to bring new or gently worn winter clothing items such as hats, scarves, coats or jackets.
“The chorus was originally started because a group of guys wanted to sing, but also because they wanted to be active in the community and find ways musically and monetarily to enrich, enhance and give back to the Wichita community,” Nachtigal said. “Our goal is to reach out to others through our music and to entertain, but it’s also to constantly give back by getting our members and audience involved in doing good works that benefit people’s lives.
“Interfaith Ministries is a natural fit for us. They do so much in the community and are so well known.”
Nachtigal said he hopes people come to this event prepared to have their spirits lifted.
“They’ll laugh and have tears brought to their eyes,” he said. “I think people will walk out inspired by what they hear.”