The Des Moines Men’s Chorus boasts fifty singers who have banded together to sing in support of justice, inclusion, and love. It is open to those who sing in the tenor and bass ranges, regardless of gender. The chorus was founded by Dr. Randal A. Buikema in 2001. Its first electrifying performance, given before a standing room only crowd, was filled with the promise of a chance to make real change.
And change they have seen! Legislation protecting lgbt people in the workplace, safety in the schools, and equal access to marriage have all come to fruition since the chorus was formed. The chorus' mission of promoting harmony among all is best fulfilled through the outstanding musicianship of its members, the creative programming of its artistic staff, and its engagement with the community.
Artistic Director and Conductor Dr. Rebecca Gruber and Pianist Ben Hagen came to the DMGMC in 2005. They, together with Chorus Administrator Sarah Zdenek and the Board of Directors plan a concert subscription series and dozens of other performances highlighting the gifts and skills of gay people and declaring the dignity and worth of all persons.
Board of Directors
President – Chad Kammin
Vice President – Tim Schreck
Treasurer – John Schmacker
Secretary – Don Agee
Immediate Past President - Craig Otto
Kevin M. Seward
Dr. Rebecca Gruber - Artistic Director & Conductor
Dr. Gruber is in her twelfth year as Artistic Director/Conductor of the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus and counts it a privilege to be one of only a few women conductors to fill that role. She has overseen three commissions, three performances at the national convention of the LGBT choral organization, GALA; several concert seasons with the best collaborative partners in the area, and a significant number of outreach performances to groups who advocate for civil justice and equality.
Dr. Gruber is Choirmaster of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Des Moines. She conducts the Cathedral Choir, administers the Cathedral Arts Series, and prepares choral evensong services with the professional choir in residence, the Howells Scholars. She received the Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at the University of Nebraska. She holds a Master of Sacred Music from Perkins School of Theology and a Master of Music in choral conducting from Southern Methodist University. Her undergraduate degree in voice/music education is from Simpson College. Dr. Gruber maintains an active voice studio in Des Moines and is a Licensed Kindermusik Educator at Pied Piper Studios.
As soprano soloist, Dr. Gruber has been heard in the works of J.S. Bach and C.P.E. Bach with the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, and in the Haydn Mass in C and the Beethoven Mass in C for the Chautauqua Series at First United Methodist Church, Dallas. She performed Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, Vaughan Williams’ Dona nobis pacem, Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli, and The Company of Heavenby Benjamin Britten on the Westminster Fine Arts Series, and Mendelssohn’s setting of Psalm 42 at Carnegie Hall.
As festival conductor and clinician, Dr. Gruber has worked with singers at David Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN, in the C. A. C. T. U. S. (Creative Arts Camp-Together Under the Sun) fine arts camp, and with the adult, young adult, and children’s music programs at the American Baptist Summer Music Conference in Greenlake, Wisconsin. She has conducted the Des Moines Elementary Honor Choir, the Southwest Iowa Honor Choir, Choristers Guild Children’s Choir Festival in Rochester, Minnesota, and the Richner-Strong Church Music Institute at Colby College in Maine. She created the dramatic/music/dance presentations at the Smithsonian Institution for awardees of the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy in Washington, D.C. Lorenz publishes her children’s choir curriculum, Stepping Stones.
Ben Hagen - Accompanist & HarMENy Director
Ben Hagen is the Director of HarMENy and has been the principal chorus accompanist since the Fall of 2005. He received his Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Iowa. During his time in Iowa City, Ben was the accompanist for the University of Iowa Old Gold Singers and played piano in the show band for Princess Cruise Lines. He has served as the Musical Director for many local musical theater productions including Next to Normal, The Last Five Years, Evil Dead the Musical, Parade, [title of show] and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Ben is participating in his fifth year as an adjudicator for the Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards. He has accompanied many professional artists including Simon Estes, Nick Lane and Amy Wagar. Ben also works as a senior actuarial analyst at EMC Insurance Companies.
Performs an LGBT Masterwork, Tyler's Suite, a nine-piece choral movement written in response to Tyler Clementi's suicide; sung from the perspective of those closest to him, Tyler's Suite was raw, uplifting, and filled with hope
The chorus performs Our Bodies Our Lives in partnership with The Project of Primary Healthcare
Several panels of the AIDS quilt were on display at the performance
Performed When I Knew – stories and songs of ‘that moment’
DMGMC and HarMENy perform at the GALA Festival in Denver, CO
Performed I Am Harvey Milk by Andrew Lippa
Created a music video as a contribution to the It Gets Better project
Concert sponsorship from the Meredith Corp. Diversity Group for SOUNDS WITHOUT BOUNDS
Holds Chorus Fundraiser EAT. DRINK. SING. – showcasing fine chefs in private homes
DMGMC performs with main stage act, Gloom Balloon, at the 80/35 Music Festival.
Collaborates with Simpson College Women’s Chorale
Celebrity performer Miss Richfield 1981 hosts the BIG GAY SING
Celebrates the anniversary of Walnut Hills UMC becoming a reconciling congregation
DMGMC and harMENy sing performances at the GALA Festival 2012 in Denver, CO
Transitions to online ticketing and produces a CD
Performs at the Roosevelt High School Pride celebration
Celebrates the anniversary of Varnum v Brien with MUSIC FOR A CHANGE and a judges’ forum
10th anniversary celebration performance of Eos by David Conte with guest conductor Dr. Randal A. Buikema
Performs in the Des Moines Social Club and Capitol Hill Lutheran Church
Concert in Grinnell, IA benefitting the food pantry
Performs A NIGHT AT THE OPERA with the Des Moines Community Orchestra
For the first time, sings at a same-sex wedding ceremony
DMGMC’s small ensemble harMENy, (men in harmony) debuts with Ben Hagen, director
Collaborates with Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble in a holiday concert
Performs for the Hoover High School/Meredith Middle School Gay-Straight Alliance
Commissions In Our America, by composer Ben Allaway
Performs a program advocating marriage equality at GALA Festival 2008 in Miami, FL
Performs at Governor Chet Culver and Lt. Governor Patty Judge Inauguration Ceremony
Joint concert with Minnesota’s GLBTA chorus, One Voice Mixed Chorus
Dr. Rebecca Gruber appointed Artistic Director and Conductor
Performs for the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, keynote speaker President Bill Clinton
Ben Hagen joins the chorus as Accompanist
Joint concert with the Des Moines Symphony, Westminster Church Oratorio Choir, and Iowa Y0uth Chorus
Performs for the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, keynote speaker Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton
Performs at Governor Tom Vilsack and Lt. Governor Sally Pederson Inauguration Ceremony
The Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus (DMGMC) establishes itself under the guidance of Dr. Randal A. Buikema
DMGMC gives its first performance at Cottage Grove Presbyterian Church
1985 through 1992
The Des Moines Men's Chorus began in a member's basement; some founding members sing with the DMGMC today