Resounding success

For the third year, Tim Seelig’s choral group sings to feed a real need

Resounding Harmony
SUPPER CLUB | Tim Seelig, center, with members of Resounding Harmony, wants his concert to feed North Texans.

RESOUNDING HARMONY
Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St.
Nov. 10. 8 p.m. $30–$50.
ResoundingHarmony.org.

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Timothy Seelig gets angry when he considers that during the season of Thanksgiving, there are still thousands of North Texans who go hungry. Which is why, for the third year in a row, the new season of his Resounding Harmony choral group begins with a fundraiser for the North Texas Food Bank.

“Resounding Harmony is an amazing blend of men [and] women, ages 13 to 77, from absolutely every walk of life, brought together by the music and the larger mission of making a difference in our community,” explains Seelig, the founding artistic director for the chorus.

Now more than 200 voices strong, Resounding Harmony had its genesis in a smaller mixed choral group Seelig helped put together for the March 2008 Voices of Peace celebration to honor Maya Angelou. That group caught the eye of Gregg Smith, a pastor at the Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, who approached Seelig and Hope for Peace & Justice about creating another chorus to help raise money and collect food for the needy. Not long afterwards, Resounding Harmony and its “musical philanthropic mission” were born.

“The North Texas Food Bank shared with us that they had just launched a three-year initiative and we immediately signed on to partner with them,” Seelig says.

The first year, Resounding Harmony raised enough to provide the NTFB with the means to offer 65,000 meals to North Texans unable to feed themselves. Last year, the chorus took an even more ambitious aim: to help provide 100,000 meals — a goal it surpassed by 10,000 meals. This year, Seelig once again wants to exceed the 100,000 mark. The concert takes place Nov. 10 at the Meyerson Symphony Center

“We are working very hard to add to the concert proceeds, income from the virtual food drive, actual food drives, Dinner in Destin Raffle, the Recyclable Grocery Bags and the Fabulous Table Auction,” Seelig says.

While the concert is intended to call attention to the reality of hunger in North Texas, Seelig promises that the show itself will be “[a] perfect balance of humor and seriousness.”

Some songs on the program, like “Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise” and “Jalapeno Chorus”(a distinctly Southwestern play on Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”) are laugh-out-loud funny. Others, like the poignant “Famine Song” and the rousing “Love Can Build a Bridge,” are intended to stir emotions.

Additional concert highlights include Russ Rieger playing the Lay Family Concert Organ and pianist Antoine Spencer performing a medley of Leonard Bernstein pieces.

“Every person attending will enter these holidays with beautiful music in their ears and in their hearts,” Seelig says.

In the three years of its existence, Resounding Harmony has also sung on behalf of other organizations, such as the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, Lowe Elementary and The Samaritan Inn. With its June 2010 Carnegie Hall “Sing for Cure” performance for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, it has also quickly established itself as a distinguished member of the Dallas arts community

“The philosophy is to use our music as a philanthropic vehicle to raise money and awareness,” explains Seelig. “It is truly an effort to use music as a means to a greater end, rather than an end in and of itself.”

— M.M. Adjarian

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Tasting notes

Stephan Pyles’ fundraiser  sets lofty goal; Seasons 52 finally arrives in Texas

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

TASTEFUL PURSUERS

TASTEFUL PURSUERS | Stephan Pyles, third from left, with the platoon of chefs preparing the annual dinner which aims to end childhood hunger in the U.S. by 2015. (Photo courtesy Carter Rose)

Stephan Pyles made a startling admission Sunday at his annual A Tasteful Pursuit dinner, which raises money for the anti-hunger charity Share Our Strength: More children go to bed hungry today than they did when Pyles helped found the organization. But that has not deterred Pyles from setting the goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015. It’s a startlingly ambitious aim that he came a little closer to achieving at the event this week.

Seven chefs from six restaurants (including two from Pyles’ namesake eatery) regaled $175-a-plate diners with lavish bites paired with wine (and some beer). Starting strong with a dessert-like fois gras mousse from chef R.J. Cooper (opening a new restaurant later this fall in Washington, D.C.), it ended just as sweet with Maggie Huff’s trio of deconstructed but delightful dolces with retro appeal: a Moon Pie, a Thin Mint and the best of the lot, a Snickers.

Pyles oversaw but did not cook a dish. The treat of that experience was saved for my tablemates, who bid $7,500 for a private dinner for eight prepared by Pyles himself at his home. A bid well-worth the experience — for a cause well-worth the effort.

At a time when so many businesses are suffering in the economy, it’s refreshing to go into a restaurant on a Wednesday night and see tables abuzz with diners. But at Oishii, they need to manage it better.

It’s frustrating to be told you’ll have to wait 35 minutes when you can see three cleared, empty tables in front of you; to be told it will be another 15 minutes after you’ve been waiting 45 minutes smacks of chaos. (We weren’t the only ones to complain either, although our fussing did miraculously get us our seats faster.)
The food itself is good as ever. I especially enjoy the crunch from the tempura roll and the spider roll, which were spackled with a miso glaze. The Philadelphia roll divided the table: Cream cheese is hardly traditional Japanese fare, and it tended to overwhelm the tuna, but it’s well-priced and tasty.

I’m just glad we ordered edamame (fresh pods well-cooked, though inconsistently salted) to start the meal. The rolls, which aren’t exactly complicated dishes, took forever to arrive following our prolonged wait in the bar without so much as the offer of a beverage.

“Nobody goes there anymore,” Yogi Berra once noted about a popular restaurant; “it’s too busy.” Good for Oishii to have a wait. But empty tables and a wait and slow dinner service? Might not be busy long, which would be a shame. The food is worth an effort, but there are limits.

It took long enough, but finally Seasons 52 is making it to Texas. I first tried the Florida-based restaurant in 2004 at the recommendation of then-Ciudad chef Joanne Bondy when I was headed to Orlando. The concept — all the entrees cap out at 475 calories; all the “mini-indulgence” desserts just 300; and everything made from the freshest ingredients selected for a rotating menu throughout the year — was an early adopter of local, healthy, good-tasting cuisine. I couldn’t wait to get it nearby.

It took six years, but the restaurant will open at the Shops at Legacy in Plano this October — the first Season 52 in Texas. Management is hiring for all positions starting Aug. 23. If one of the perks is free food, go.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas