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New Artistic Director and Conductor for the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus Starts January 1


The Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus announces Eric Shepard as its new Artistic Director and Conductor starting January 1, 2022.

During his conducting career, Eric Shepard has received numerous vocal and choral awards at local Des Moines and Regional choral competitions. He currently raises voices as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultant and Practitioner. “I work to find ways to ensure that every voice is heard, respected, and valued. I am excited to realize those goals through song with the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus!” he stated in regard to his new appointment.

Eric has led ensembles across the United States with appearances at the Cathedral of St. John and 9-11 Memorial site – NYC, The Encore Theatre – Branson, MO, American Gardens Theatre – Epcot Center, to name a few. He has toured internationally in Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, Ireland, and France, where he led, performed or assisted Midwest choirs and/or opera troupes.

A Des Moines native, Eric received his Bachelor’s of Music degree in Education with an emphasis in musical theatre  and conducting from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University, as well as two certificates from the University of South Florida – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace and Inclusive and Ethical Leadership.

Eric Shepard will become the Chorus’ third Artistic Director and Conductor since its inception in 2001. Founding Artistic Director and Conductor Dr. Randy Buikema created the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus with many original members of the Des Moines Men’s Chorus that existed between the early 1980s and the mid-90s. The first concert found standing room only for its audience in June of 2001, with a massive 76 singers performing.

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Dr. Rebecca Gruber was appointed to the position in the spring of 2006. For 15 years under her direction, the Chorus realized a distinct expansion in its repertoire and recognition around the community. Most notably, the Chorus performed at numerous Matthew Shepard Scholarship Dinners, the Inauguration of Governor Vilsack, the Celebration of Life Ceremony for Chief Justice Mark Cady, and public rallies celebrating marriage equality both in Iowa and nationally.

The Des Moines Men’s Chorus boasts a non-auditioned group of 40-60 singers who have banded together as community champions singing to promote harmony, ignite hearts, and move minds. Anyone who sings in the tenor, baritone, and bass ranges is accepted, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation. The Chorus produces a three-concert series each season and, together with their small ensemble group HarMENy, performs at many community outreach events. These performances highlight the gifts and skills of LGBTQ+ people and declare the dignity and worth of all persons through music that matters.

The Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus has also developed “Out in the Schools,” a completely free curriculum of equity and inclusion for every school in Iowa. The “Out in the Schools” course may provide a much-needed way to address the needs of students who are struggling with identity and self-esteem and of those students who are looking to be allies in support of a more understanding and accepting school. This curriculum is available by request for free to any educator.

Season tickets are on sale now. Tickets and more information about the Chorus can be found at DMGMC.ORG.

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