2012 brings more Diversity to Wichita.
Mark Walker, Artistic Director for Diversity, has a strong background as a director of musical groups; his musical history spans over 30 years. In those years, he's done it all: directed mostly vocal music groups, choirs, instrumental groups, orchestras, concerts, production managing, stage musicals, and performing. He spent seven years as the Assistant Artistic Director/Production Manager of the Heart of America Men's Chorus, working alongside Howard Webb in 21 concerts. This experience in particular has inspired him to start his own ensemble.
"Since leaving the Heart of America Men's Chorus, I have been searching for an avenue to work in the public once again and have explored many possibilities, but landed on this idea of a small men's ensemble to impact the LGBT community and the community at large," Walker says. That ensemble is Diversity, a group he launched in late 2011.
While the main purpose of this group is entertainment for the community, there is a strong positive message that goes along with the performances. "I truly want to promote a message of acceptance to our community and beyond whenever we perform," Walker says.
The reasons for starting a group like Diversity are numerous. So many LGBT-focused events lack group entertainment, says Walker. He has already started making contacts so that DIVERSITY can be the go-to entertainment group in the LGBT community. "I want this organization to develop interesting and meaningful events that reach out to those in the LGBT community," he says.
While rehearsals have just begun, Walker says he's already eager to see the performances. And though the organization is still in the beginning formation stages, he is working with venues for an opening event, including a dinner theater to promote supporters of Diversity. One supporter in particular is Sierra Scott, a local television personality who hosts It's All Good, with Sierra Scott and who has endorsed the group. "She is ready to help promote us and get us performing at some of her events around the community," Walker says.
When Diversity begins performing, audiences can expect a wide array of musical numbers, from comedy (Caffeine in a Cardboard Cup) to 50s-era doo-wop numbers such as Sherry. Based on early rehearsals, Walker likes what he hears. "The harmonies that are already forming in our group are absolutely beautiful and the audience will be touched by the musical expertise of the group," he says. "This group wants to entertain, do choreography, wear costumes, and touch people's lives. We want to 'tug' at the heart of everyone we entertain."
Diversity is comprised of 10 members, including Walker, so far. He says his goal is to have 12-16 total members. Walker has worked with many of the members before, and says that the group is already building interest in the community.
Some of the members, he says, heard of his vision for the group and wanted to be a part of it immediately. The range of talent in the group is impressive as well as their diversity. While he enjoys having the gay members of the group, Walker says that the group is an all-inclusive group that accepts members of all races, sexual orientations and backgrounds.
"I love working with men's voices in particular, but my dream goes beyond this one ensemble," Walker says. "While the men's ensemble will be called Diversity, I have a dream to develop and recruit leadership to form multiple ensembles, including a Women's Ensemble and a Teen Ensemble."
These ensembles, he says, would be under the 501(c)(3) organizational name "Harmonies of Acceptance."
If you are interested in auditioning for Diversity, joining the Board of Directors, or booking the group for an event, contact Mark Walker at email@example.com or 316-706-6389.