He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother: Chorale comforts the community

Posted on 15 Jun 2016 at 11:10am
Denise Lee

Denise Lee performs in the Songs for Healing concert with Turtle Creek Chorale on Tuesday night at Cathedral of Hope.

Turtle Creek Chorale Artistic Director Sean Baugh woke up on Monday morning at 5:30 a.m. and knew he needed to do something in response to the Orlando attacks. So he started sending emails. One after another, members of the Chorale responded, saying they would participate.

Baugh quickly pulled together a program — Songs for Healing. Denise Lee said she’d be there with him. Chris Chism said he’d do a solo. Jodi Crawford Wright agreed to reprise “I Love You More,” the mother’s song from Tyler’s Suite, the piece commissioned by the Chorale about the death of Tyler Clementi. Members of Resounding Harmony and of the CoH choir also stepped up to participate.

Cathedral of Hope opened its doors on Tuesday night, June 14, for the community to come and grieve. The Dallas Police Department responded with 60 officers swarming the campus, quietly but visibly making their presence known. DPD Chief David Brown and his officers received their own standing ovation.

Had he had time, Baugh said he would have pulled together photos from news reports of survivors carrying gunshot victims out of Pulse and running with them down the street to the nearby hospital. Even without the visual, the image was clear as they sang, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”

The concert streamed through KERA and WFAA to more than 28,000 people. About 2,000 people filled the church and several hundred more packed the Interfaith Peace Chapel to watch on monitors. Passing a plate raised $15,000 to help cover expenses for the Orlando victim’s families and medical expenses for the survivors.

The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas reminded those attending that the men’s choral movement began in San Francisco the night Harvey Milk was shot when a group of men gathered and began to sing.

The concert itself was a testament to the brilliance of the Turtle Creek Chorale. Baugh pulled several songs from last week’s Heartstrings concert but others were from more distant concerts. Without a rehearsal, the performance came off without an apparent glitch. One song after another received a well-deserved standing ovation. Throughout the concert, Chorale members read names of the dead. The crowd left the church still stunned by the massacre but comforted as the community came together.

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