The Rev. Jo Hudson sends message to CoH members about staff cuts

The Rev. Jo Hudson

On Monday, Cathedral of Hope laid off 10 staff members, the equivalent of six full-time positions because of lower than expected income. Yesterday, the Rev. Jo Hudson sent members a letter explaining the reduction in force, which include voluntary pay cuts by senior staff.

A more detailed story will appear in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

Read the full letter below.

—  David Taffet

Dallas wraps up June Pride series

The panel, from left: Roger Poindexter, Lorie Burch, Scott Whittall, the Rev. Dawson Taylor, Harold Steward, Cece Cox, Pastor Jon Haack and David Fisher. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

The city of Dallas wrapped up its LGBT Pride Month celebration Wednesday with a discussion of how the LGBT community has enriched the city.

A seven-member panel moderated by Fahari Arts Institute founder Harold Steward discussed the contributions their LGBT organizations have made to Dallas over the years and where they envision Dallas in the future. They then took questions from the handful of people in attendance.

The event in the City Hall Flag Room was the last event in the city’s Pride series “Honor, Educate and Celebrate.”

Panelists included Resource Center Dallas CEO and Executive Director Cece Cox, Cedar Springs Merchants Association Executive Director Scott Whittall, Turtle Creek Chorale Executive Director David Fisher, GBLT Chamber of Commerce board member Lorie Burch, Lambda Legal South Central Region Executive Director Roger Poindexter, Cathedral of Hope Executive Minister the Rev. Dawson Taylor and Promise Metropolitan Community Church senior Pastor Jon Haack.

City Council was in executive session so members could not attend, but Councilwoman Delia Jasso stepped out to speak briefly about her pride in the LGBT Task Force for planning great events over the last four weeks. Councilman Scott Griggs also stopped by the Flag Room and spoke briefly. The series began with a kickoff followed by conversations about city services and out officials. Jasso expressed a desire to have another celebration next June and promised it would be “bigger and better.”

While many of the organizations began as a way of welcoming the LGBT community with safe havens to worship, gain access to HIV/AIDS care and enjoy a safe evening out or unbiased legal council, the panel focused on how far Dallas has grown over the decades and how spread out the LGBT community has become. The days have passed where members of the LGBT community only live near Cedar Springs and the only bar patrons along the entertainment strip are gay.

Instead, the LGBT community and its businesses have integrated into Dallas while still maintaining a focus on their original customers, Whittall said. Even religious organizations have grown in attendance with allies who no longer find a barrier between spirituality and sexuality, but Taylor added that the next step is working from being a community that is tolerated to one that is accepted and celebrated.

Task Force member Pam Gerber closed the event by expressing how proud she was to have a June Pride celebration and welcomed input for next year’s events. She said that while the community is working toward acceptance, she “just wants to be.”

“I want to be nothing extraordinary, nothing out of the ordinary,” she said. “I just want to be.”

Suggestions for next year’s Pride can be made to Councilwoman Delia Jasso at 214-670-4052.

—  Dallasvoice

Chorale names interim director

Trey Jacobs

The Turtle Creek Chorale has a new conductor — for now.

Trey Jacobs, who until recently was an assistant professor of choral activities at Eastern Michigan University and who currently lives in Mobile, Ala., with his partner, has been tapped to serve as conductor of the TCC for its upcoming season.

The season, which was planned by Dr. Jonathan Palant before his sudden departure last month as artistic director of the TCC, begins on Oct. 23, but for the past month or so, no one person has led the music portion of the troupe. Jacobs fills that duty, effective immediately, and will perform as the interim conductor during the 2011-12 season, according to Dawson Taylor, chairman of the chorale board.

The chorale announced in July that it would immediately begin a nationwide search for a new artistic director, a process that is expected to take six months or more.

Interestingly, both Jacobs and Palant are veterans of Michigan State University: Jacobs recently completed his doctoral work there, and Palant has degrees from there as well as the University of Michigan and Temple University.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Palant resigns; Fisher joins TCC staff as ED

Jonathan Palant, left, and David Fisher

Chorale board chair says group is on solid financial ground in the midst of ‘exciting transitions’

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

As the Turtle Creek Chorale is in the midst of gearing up for its 32nd season, word came this week that the chorale’s artistic director for the last four years, Jonathan Palant, had resigned, and that David Fisher had been hired as the new executive director.

Fisher replaces Stephan Tosha, who announced in May that he would be resigning at the end of July to take a position with Morgan Stanley financial services firm.

But despite the upheaval in the chorale’s top staff positions, board chair the Rev. Dawson Taylor said this week that the chorale is in excellent financial position and that the 32nd season, set to kick off Oct. 23 with “Messiah” at the Meyerson Symphony Center, will continue as scheduled.

Dawson Taylor

“We are moving ahead with our ticket sales and looking at all our options” regarding an artistic director for the season, Taylor said. He said the board is creating a committee to conduct a national search to replace Palant and at the same time discussing how to fill that vacancy in the meantime.

“We expect the search to take six to eight months,” Taylor said. “We will determine how the podium is handled until a new artistic director is hired. We may possibly name an interim artistic conductor, or we may work with guest conductors for different programs. Either way, I am confident the chorale will be in good hands until we find a permanent replacement.”

Taylor said it is very possible that if choosing an interim director, the board would choose “someone local,” and that an interim director would be “someone the membership is comfortable with and confident in.”

Taylor said that Palant had turned in his resignation during a previously scheduled meeting with Taylor on Monday morning, July 18.

“He simply stated that he is leaving [the chorale] to pursue other interests, and I am taking him at his word,” Taylor said.

In an interview Thursday afternoon, July 21, Palant said he is not in a position to disclose details about his future plans at this time, saying only that he resigned from the chorale “to pursue other artistic endeavors” and that he has some “exciting opportunities on the horizon.”

He also said that he will continue as minister of music at Kessler Park United Methodist Church, a position he accepted earlier this year, and that he will continue his duties as chief judge of the Dallas Tavern Guild’s 2011 Voice of Pride competition.

Palant said that “making music with” the Kessler Park church is “a new challenge for me, and lots of fun,” and that he enjoys the opportunity Voice of Pride gives him to “promote new talent, hear lots of great singers and spend time with friends.”

In a prepared statement released Thursday afternoon, Palant said of his future plans, “I am excited to be starting a family with my partner, Mark, and academia has never been far from my heart.”

He also repeatedly heaped praise on the chorale, both in his written statement and in his interview with Dallas Voice.

“It has been a true pleasure being the artistic director these past four years and I firmly believe we have made a difference in the lives of many in our Partners in Harmony program, our many musical collaborations both near and far, within the LGBT community and, of course, with and for our local patrons and supporters,” Palant said in the prepared statement. “Each and every contact I have made over these years, in their own way, has changed my life, and I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. I wish all the best for the Turtle Creek Chorale and its members.”

He also said that the upcoming chorale season will be “fantastic, and I should know because I planned it! I mean, where else can you get ‘Messiah,’ Laura Bush and Madonna all in one season?”

Taylor said he and other board members notified chorale members of Palant’s resignation Monday and then released a statement, shortly before 9 p.m. that night, officially making the news public. Board members then met with chorale members in a “town hall” meeting Tuesday night, giving members the chance to ask any questions and air any concerns they had.

About 80 of the chorale’s current total of 140 to 150 members attended, Taylor said.

“Many of them [chorale members] are grieving right now, and we certainly understand that. This is not where they expected things to go,” Taylor said. “But I feel that by the end of that meeting they all felt like their questions had been answered.

“We are a flexible organization,” he continued. “We are 31 years old. We survived the AIDS crisis. We have only had five artistic directors in 32 seasons. I think that’s pretty unique.

“We are flexible and nimble, and when the season starts, we will be at our best. I think the news has settled in now, and the guys understand that Turtle Creek Chorale is bigger than one person,” Taylor said.

Taylor also said that turnover in the top positions are not an indication of any financial problems for the chorale.

“In fact, we are in the best financial position we have been in in the last 10 years,” Taylor said. “We are now debt-free, and that was not the case when I came on the board four years ago. The credit for that all goes to Stephen Tosha.”

He added that the chorale’s annual fundraising gala, held last month and this year called “Circque,” brought in $100,000,” and that season subscription sales for the 32nd season are “right on target.”

Taylor also noted that he expects the chorale’s financial good health to continue to improve under new executive director David Fisher. Fisher, who takes over the ED position effective Aug. 15, has worked for the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs since 1995.

During his tenure with the city, Fisher managed the Bath House Cultural Center and the Meyerson Symphony Center. While at the Bath House, he created the Festival of Independent Theaters and directed several productions that drew critical acclaim.

Fisher was a member of the 2004 class of Leadership Dallas and earned a masters degree in nonprofit management from the University of Dallas in 2005.

In 2006, Fisher was appointed assistant director of cultural affairs for the city, overseeing operations at all the city’s cultural centers and the city’s grant programs.

He also led the budgeting and administration functions for the department.

Since last year, Fisher has done double duty as assistant director of cultural affairs and interim general manager of radio station WRR Classical 101.1 FM.

Fisher and his longtime partner, Duncan, live in Lake Highlands with their 7-year-old son, Bennett.

“I could not be more thrilled — or grateful — to be joining the Turtle Creek Chorale as its executive director,” Fisher said in a statement released Wednesday evening.

“Since being part of the Meyerson team that helped produce the first ‘Sing for the Cure’ in 1999, I have followed the Turtles with admiration and appreciation. It is an amazing ensemble with an incredible history and, I believe, an incredible future.”

Both Taylor and Fisher acknowledged that the chorale is in the midst of a time of transition, but both also said the chorale will continue to thrive.

“I am so excited to be on the board and part of this organization right now, and we are all so excited to have David join our staff,” Taylor said. “I don’t think the members of the chorale or our patrons and donors see as being in a time of chaos.

“It is a time of transition, yes. But it is an exciting time of transition. We are moving forward, and I see nothing but good things ahead for Turtle Creek Chorale.”

—  John Wright

One Night in Bangkok

One Night in Bangkok

PARTY PROCEEDS  | Organizers of the fourth annual “One Night In Bangkok” party present proceeds from the July 30 event held at The Brick the party’s two beneficiaries, the Turtle Creek Chorale and Resource Center Dallas. Pictured are RCD Development Director Ben Leal, Vincent Johnson with The Club, RCD board member Steve Rayl, Kenn Kirkland with The Club, event promoter Dannee Phann, Dawson Taylor of Turtle Creek Chorale, Kenn McBryde of Turtle Creek Chorale and Brick owner Howard Okon.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 6, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens