Turtle Creek Chorale celebrates its 34th anniversary

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Five founding members of the Turtle Creek Chorale still offer their voices in the highly regarded men’s chorus. The Chorale celebrates its 34th anniversary Wednesday. From left, Steven, Randy, Paul, Robert and Ralph.

 

When three Dallas men met over drinks 34 years ago to discuss creating a men’s chorus, they couldn’t have known they were launching an institution. With its beginnings as a 38-voice chorus in 1980, the Turtle Creek Chorale today is regarded as the finest men’s chorus in the United States.

“Without exception, when people all over the United States hear the name Turtle Creek Chorale, they think that,” said Turtle Creek Chorale Artistic Director Trey Jacobs. “The Chorale has certainly set a standard for men’s choirs. The sounds they create are the reason they are the most recorded men’s choirs in the world.”

At Tuesday’s rehearsal, Chorale members cut a cake, celebrating the group’s 34th anniversary which is Wednesday. Five of the founding members who are still in the Chorale helped cut the cake.

“I am just so proud to be part of the greatest men’s chorus on earth,” founding member Steven Mitchell said.

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The original flyer that launched the Turtle Creek Chorale in 1980.

The Chorale is recording a CD in March, strengthening its reputation as the most-recorded men’s chorous. Jacobs, who is the Chorale’s third artistic director, followed the group for 21 years before taking the position.

“I am beyond thrilled to be a part of the rich history of creating extraordinary musical experiences,” he said.

The TCC Chamber Chorous, along with members of the Chorale, are presenting Alexander’s House at the Latino Cultural Center on Feb. 21-22 at 8 p.m. For tickets, call 214-526-3214 or go online.

 

—  Steve Ramos

David Fisher steps down as executive director of Turtle Creek Chorale

David Fisher

David Fisher, who became executive director of the Turtle Creek Chorale two years ago, just as a shake-up within the organization led to the sudden departure of its artistic director, is stepping down from his post.

Fisher, who previously worked for the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, will return there, once again serving as its assistant director.

“After nearly 20 years working in the arts in Dallas, I’m grateful for my time with the chorale, and I’m thrilled to be returning to the Office of Cultural Affairs where I will be able to continue the work of fostering the growth and success of all of the arts and arts organizations in Dallas,” Fisher said. No reason was given for the move.

Hank Henley, a singing member of the chorale since 2009, will step in as interim executive director.

“Having been vice president and president of the Turtle Creek Chorale, I’m thrilled to be serving this wonderful organization in yet another way,” Henley said in a statement. The board, as well as Henley and current artistic director Trey Jacobs, will immediately begin a search for Fisher’s permanent successor.

“Hank’s experience and passion will serve us well in this role, and we look forward to working with him,” said Zan Moore, Turtle Creek Chorale’s board president.

While at the TCC, Fisher led the search to replace former AD Jonathan Palant. Jacobs was named interim AD in the summer of 2011, and in the spring of last year became its permanent artistic director.

The final concert of TCC’s current season takes place next Thursday at the Meyerson Symphony Center.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Laura Bush to appear with Turtle Creek Chorale

Former first lady Laura Bush

On Thursday night, former first lady Laura Bush will join the U.S. Army Chorus, the Lone Star Wind Symphony Orchestra and the Turtle Creek Chorale on stage at the Meyerson Symphony Center for Made in America: The Best of American Composers. Bush is serving as the honorary chair for the evening celebrating those who serve to protect our freedom.

The U.S. Army Chorus first performed with the Chorale in 2009 in Dallas. They are the only remaining military service chorus in the U.S. The group of singing soldiers has made hundreds of appearances at the White House and has performed for every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The first half of the concert will focus on popular American composers and music from Broadway, jazz standards, traditional and pop music. The second half will feature American folk songs and showcase American patriotic music classics like “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful,” as well as modern patriotic songs like “American Anthem” and “I Was There.”

The finale of the concert will be a “service medley” where the anthems from each branch of the Armed Forces will be sung and members and veterans of those branches will be honored.

This is the first TCC concert conducted by Trey Jacobs since he was appointed permanent artistic director of the Chorale.

The concert takes place on May 24 at 8 p.m. at the Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. Tickets are $20–65.

—  David Taffet

Interim no more: Jacobs in at TCC

It’s official: Trey Jacobs is in as the new, permanent artistic director at the Turtle Creek Chorale.

Following the TCC’s Madonna to Madonna concert Sunday, where Dallas’ gay men’s chorus sang songs from liturgical hymns like “Ave Maria” to medleys of Madge’s pop hits, managing director David Fisher, pictured right, announced that their “new” artistic director would be the guy who has led the group since last summer, pictured left.

It was both a surprise and not. The surprise came because, in an interview with the Voice last October, Jacobs claimed he did not intend to apply for it, as he had recently moved to the same town as his partner after a commuter relationship for years.

I was never totally convinced, even though Jacobs was a rush replacement last year when former A.D. Jonathan Palant’s contract was not renewed at the close of the season. And it was not a surprise when you looked at the Facebook posts in recent days of TCC members, who seemed devoted to Jacobs’ leadership. When Fisher took the stage, I saw it coming.

The reaction from the crowd was enthusiastic, probably owing in no small part to the excellent concert that has just been performed. There was an energy to the chorale that had been missing in some prior concerts, and the membership roster seemed especially healthy. (The subject matter — the role of women and their strength throughout history — was particularly poignant in light of recent political debates concerning women’s health.) Jacobs’ selection was a popular choice and the singers, too. One member of the search committee told me after they looked at 16 candidates, but “we all love Trey,” so he was offered the job.

Another clue it would be Jacobs: A note in the program that the 2012-13 season would be announced soon. That’s the job of an artistic director.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Like virgins

Turtle Creek Chorale channels its inner Madonna — and other women throughout history — for its latest concert

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STRIKE A POSE | The chorale gets into the groove Sunday performing Madonna songs, but the concert honors many women throughout history.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Trey Jacobs knew exactly who he had in mind when forging the concept of the upcoming Turtle Creek Chorale concert Madonna to Madonna: The Ageless Strength of Women. The show was conceived to feature music that honors women from the Virgin Mary to the queen of pop. Iconic as they are, Jacobs looked to high school for the women who made him the person he is today — besides Mom, of course.

“As a musician, my role model was my high school choral director Jane Price,” says the TCC’s interim conductor. “She taught me how to express emotion through music.”

Thus, Jacobs will take a cue from Madge and express himself with a selection of Madonna songs — and then some.

Jacobs took over the chorale after the season outline had already been set. Running the gamut of women throughout history, from antiquity to the contemporary, was not his idea. But he expanded the idea to make his own mark.

“There was no music selected yet,” he says. “For me, it was about trying to pair [the idea] with a concept that would resonate with people. And it became this show that truly honors women.”

With a set-list that goes from Rachmaninoff to Shania Twain, the chorale teams up with some special guests for a unique experience. Enlisting the help of local singers Patty Breckenridge and Sally Vahle, New York musician Nisha Asnani and Cathedral of Hope’s the Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson, the ladies add the appropriate feminine touch to the show.

While people are scrambling to get loan approval for Madonna tickets in October, there is a distinct curiosity for how the TCC boys will be pulling off some of her greatest hits. There will even be some “chorale-ography” involved.

“They’ll be singing ‘Open Your Heart,’ ‘Dress You Up,’ ‘Papa Don’t Preach,’” says Joe Rattan, who also does the chorale’s marketing. “Oh, and ‘Vogue.’”

Rattan and Jacobs confirm that the TCC men will, in fact, be vogueing.

Clearly Madonna is a big draw for any gay event, but both men are sure to note that the inspiration of this show isn’t just about the material girl or even just about the Virgin Mary.

“The show runs the full emotional gamut,” Rattan says. “It’s very touching, there are some funny moments. Trey really breathed life into it to be this and has done a wonderful job. The guys are excited and inspired by what they are singing and I’ve been moved by what I heard.”

Jacobs assures that a concert about women by men won’t miss the point.

“I had talks with the chorale and many of them would talk about these female role models,” he says. “Sometimes it was a strong character from a movie or musical, or more personal, but it was fascinating to hear all these different men talk about women in such reverence. That’s what this is about.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 2, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

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