The season features three mainstage concerts, special performances and events
The Turtle Creek Chorale began rehearsals for its 37th season with a record number of singers as the group prepared for its opening After Dark benefit and performance. With 40 new singers joining the chorale this season, Artistic Director Sean Baugh said he expects the chorus to have a new and richer sound.
Rather than open the season with a mainstage concert, the season begins by bringing back another chorale tradition.
“We’re beginning the season differently than in recent years — with a festive party,” Chorale Executive Director Bruce Jaster said.
After Dark recalls the Chorale’s Apples to Zebras fundraiser that was created by late board members Chet Flake and Bud Knight. The event began when Knight, who was a buyer for the North Dallas women’s clothing store Lester Melnick, brought the store’s seasonal leftovers to be auctioned. The first year, the event was called Ming to Mink and was later expanded to Antiques to Zebras.
“That popularized the silent auction format that so many groups now use in their fundraising events,” Jaster said.
“After Dark will be more than the standard taste this, bid on that event.”
The evening is billed as drinks, divas and desserts. The divas are Kristen Bond, Janelle Lutz, Amy Stevenson and Jodi Crawford Wright.
Chorale audiences know Wright from her performance as Tyler Clementi’s mother in Tyler’s Suite in March. Bond is a local performer who has appeared at WaterTower Theatre, Theatre 3, Lyric Stage and more. Lutz is known to Uptown Players audiences as Judy Garland from this season’s End of the Rainbow and Stevenson may be best known for the monthly Mama’s Party cabaret.
The chorale’s ensembles and soloists will perform with them.
The desserts portion of After Dark includes stations to learn about pairing wine and desserts. Also featured will be a wine pull. Wines and liquors will be wrapped in sealed bags.
“Pay a price and pull a bag with a bottle valued higher than the price you paid,” Jaster said.
The chorale’s mainstage concert season begins in December with the holiday show at City Performance Hall. The Lone Star Wind Orchestra will accompany the Chorale and new compositions will premiere.
Topsy Turvy in March re-imagines music you thought you knew: How would Madonna sound if composed by
Beethoven? What about a hymn performed in a smoky lounge?
The June concert, In Your Dreams, Baugh calls “a new concept in choral theater.” More on that in the spring.
Producing three mainstage concerts during the season, rather than four, allows the chorale time to prepare for a number of other performances. In addition to opening Highland Park United Methodist Church’s Tower Arts series (see accompanying story), the chorale joins Uptown Players for a concert version of Titanic in May.
And at times, the chorale performs with little advance notice as it did in June after the Pulse massacre in Orlando and the Dallas Police murders in July. This season, they’re hoping for less tragic events through the year.
Over the summer, the Chorale was a standout at the GALA Festival in Denver with 150 members participating. More than 6,600 singers from 171 choruses and ensembles took part in the quadrennial event for LGBT choruses.
“The chorale clearly received the most accolades from our peers,” Jaster said.
Artistic director Sean Baugh added, “The ovations had to be ended to prep the hall for the next performance.”
Baugh complimented other bests from around the country. The Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus did a Broadway-style production, transporting their sets and props to Denver.
“Unbelievable,” Baugh said.
He also called Heartland Men’s Chorus from Kansas City and Tim Seelig’s San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus as well as Muse, a small group from Pennsylvania, as the festival’s best.
“And Schola Cantarosa from Germany set Denver on their ear,” Baugh said. Schola Cantarosa has performed in Dallas with the chorale.
The GALA festival takes place every four years over the Fourth of July week. While the Chorale would love to host using all of the Arts District’s facilities, GALA board members feel Dallas is a little too warm that time of year to enjoy a visit.
After Dark, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m., 3015 at Trinity Groves. Tickets at TurtleCreekChorale.com/After-Dark.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2016.