Jaster appointed permanent executive director of Turtle Creek Chorale

Bruce Jaster

Bruce Jaster

Bruce Jaster, who took quickly over as interim executive director for the Turtle Creek Chorale following the departure of the previous post-holder in January, has been confirmed as the new full-time permanent executive director, the TCC announced late Friday. The ED is responsible for the management and business side of the organization. Sean Baugh, who was made full-time artistic director earlier this spring after overseeing the most recent season of the TCC since the departure of Trey Jacobs last June, will continue to be in charge of the music, programs and singers.

Jaster received the unanimous support of the board of directors in voting him to the post. He has been on the board himself for 10 years, and spent 15 as a singing member. Since assuming the interim role, he has led the chorale through a dicey period in its history, building up its financial security and “continuing the chorale’s movement toward stability and new growth,” according to a release. Jaster was with Price Waterhouse Coopers before stepping away to take the interim position in January.

“The chorale has been a part of my life since first attending a concert on the early 1980s. To be able to now serve as executive director is a dream realized,” Jaster said.

The chorale is Dallas’ 35-year-old gay men’s chorus, one of the fourth oldest gay men’s singing groups in the U.S. It starts its 36th season Oct. 9.

When I jokingly observed that the timing of the promotion from interim to permanent looked conditioned upon the Supreme Court bestowing marriage equality, the TCC’s director of marketing Tri Truong laughed, adding, “I feel like you can spin it that way.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Chorale announces upcoming season of concerts for 2015–16

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TCC music director Sean Baugh.

It was just this weekend that the Turtle Creek Chorale concluded its 35th season, and now just a few days later we know what to look forward to.

The four mainstage shows, all of which will take place at the City Performance Hall, begins with Heartland: An American Songbook, featuring everything from showtunes from Gershwin and Rodgers & Hammerstein through folk classics by Woody Gurthie and Bob Dylan. Oct. 9 and 10.

Next up will be, of course, the traditional concert of holiday music, Home. Dec. 17, 18, 19 and 20. The spring concert is entitled Heroes, with the first half devoted to honoring members of the community who have been role models and leaders; the second half will be a performance of the choral work Tyler’s Suite, written in honor of Tyler Clementi, the gay student who committed suicide after being bullied online. March 31, April 1 and 2.

The season will conclude a year from now with the summer concert, Heartstrings, which tracks the emotional roller coaster from first date to first heartbreak, as expressed by composers from Beethoven to Lady Gaga. June 9, 10 and 11.

You can get your season tickets here or by calling 214-526-3214.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Chorale scores turtley awesome season finale

turtlely 80sFor its third concert of the season, newly appointed Turtle Creek Chorale conductor Sean Baugh was taking the stage. In this weekend’s Turtle-ly 80s season finale, he owned the stage.

But Baugh isn’t afraid to share the spotlight. Good thing, because the chorale has so much talent to spotlight.

Steven Fontaine’s “Wind Beneath My Wings” had me in tears. He captured the passion of the song that was sung at so many AIDS funerals.

Steven Patterson’s ballad version of “Open Your Heart” was simply beautiful.

Before I go on about the singing, I need to rave about Soundbytes, the Chorale’s dancers, because last concert I didn’t talk about the wild reception they’re getting. From their hips and heads and cartwheels in “Footloose” to their briefcase flinging “9 to 5″ to their creepy entrance onto the stage during “Thriller,” they’re an integral part of Baugh’s new and improved, maybe best-ever Turtle Creek Chorale.

The 80s Broadway Montage began with a wonderful “La Cage Aux Folles” but the send-up of my most hated musical ever, Cats, (not now, not ever) did that miserable show and its whiny music the justice it certainly deserved. Thank you. If you had just one song to ever drag through the mud … wonderful.

Throughout the show, the joy was loud and proud but the humor was sometimes subtle. The Chamber Chorus singing “Papa Don’t Preach” with the men’s group telling papa they decided to keep the baby was delicious.

I didn’t mention the rest of the soloists. Each one — Brian Dixon, James Jackson, DiMarcus Williams, Eric Ramsey, Brian Scott Carey, Ricky Phoummany, Fathay Smith-Kiawu, Peter Mena, Grant Myers, Steven Patterson, David Barnes, Matthew Harrington, Dan Baillie, Daryl Curry, Bryan Daniel, Doug Fonville, Mike Grant, Grayson Palmer, Benny Ruiz and Michael Sullivan — was powerful, distinctive, warm, wonderful. One didn’t top another. One just didn’t let the audience catch its breath when the next one took us in a different direction. Brilliant.

Oh, (each time I think I’m done here, I realize there’s more) Don Jones, long time signer for the Chorale seemed to have more fun with this show than with just about any other. How could he help it? We all had that much fun tonight.

Three encores following three standing ovations. I love that the Chorale I loved for so long is back.

So here’s where I say there’s still another show on Sunday, June 14 at 2:30 p.m. There are still some tickets left. Go have fun. Oh, and get tickets here.

You can also order season tickets online for next year’s season. I’d tell you about it, but Chorale interim executive director Bruce Jaster told me from the stage to keep my mouth shut. My partner, Brian, has had some interesting new experiences since we met three years ago. He noted this was the first time he’s heard someone specifically tell me to shut up from the stage, though, and said I should say, “Thank you, Bruce.” OK, I’ll shut up, but I’m telling you, you might want to get tickets for next season now.

—  David Taffet

Chorale scores big bucks at Big Thickette, receives big grant

3 contestants

Lisa Condo, Aida Lott and Shebeata Pinata at the Miss Big Thickette pageant and fundraiser.

We like things big in Texas, and the Turtle Creek Chorale has had a big week.

First, their fundraising pageant, Miss Big Thickette, proved a huge success on Sunday night. Usually, the benefit for TCC’s LifeWalk team nets around $4,000 for the night; this year doubled that, with contestants (and generous supporters) ponying up more than $8,000 in donations — a gigantic step toward the LifeWalk team’s goal of $35,000 by September. The winner ended up being Shebeata Pinata, with first runner-up going to Aida Lott and Lisa Condo taking Miss Congeniality.

Then last night came word that Bloomberg Philanthropies in New York has bestrowed an Art Innovation and Management Grant on the chorale. The exact amount of the two-year, unrestricted grant is confidential, though interim executive director Bruce Jaster characterized it as “sizeable.”

Yup, we knew it — Texas is full of “sizeable” queens.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The Turtle Creek Chorale is back and better than ever

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TCC Artistic Director Sean Baugh (photo H Henley)

Have you ever walked out of a Turtle Creek Chorale concert grinning from ear to ear and singing? Saturday night’s performance had people out of their seats cheering one of the best shows the group has ever performed.

And that’s wasn’t just me saying it. That was one person after another I heard after the show at City Performance Hall on Saturday.

The audience at Saturday night’s Britten, Beatles & Bond was clapping along from the opening Beatles number and not just cheering but giving standing ovations throughout the evening.

The reception was well deserved.

This was Artistic Director Sean Baugh’s first concert since being named permanently to the position. He’s been acting artistic director since last summer. This was also acting Executive Director Bruce Jaster’s first concert since taking the position earlier this year. May the two have a long and continued successful tenure together. They’re obviously the right combination the chorale needed.

Jaster, a former singer and board member, was at ease dressed as Sgt. Pepper — I think he was more Dr Pepper — and Baugh has gotten better and better with each concert he’s conducted this season. He’s made that stage his own in less a full season on stage. All the fun the audience remembers from a Tim Seelig concert is back and Baugh’s breadth of music knowledge is apparent from the minute he picks up his baton through his final bow.

If you’ve ever been a Turtle Creek Chorale fan but have stayed away lately, it’s time to give the Chorale another look. There’s another concert this weekend called Musica de Mayo at 7:30 p.m. on May 2 the Latino Cultural Center.

Featuring small ensembles and soloists from the chorale, the Hotchkiss Elementary School Choir and Mi Diva Loca, the sizzling music celebrates Latino culture and heritage just in time for Cinco de Mayo. The evening honors Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Tickets are $25-35 and available online.

Turtle-ly 80s on June 12-14 celebrates the chorale’s founding decade of teased hair, baggy pants and more and is a chance to sing along with those 150 or more fabulous voices. Tickets for that performance are available here.

—  David Taffet

Sean Baugh named TCC artistic director

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Turtle Creek Chorale Artistic Director Sean Baugh

Sean Baugh, who has been serving as associate artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale this season, has been named permanent artistic director.

Chorale Executive Director Bruce Jaster said the singing membership strongly supported the appointment and the announcement during the Chorale’s Tuesday night rehearsal was met with a standing ovation.

Throughout the season, Baugh has reversed declining attendance and recent shows have been sold out.

Jaster said Baugh would work with the Chorale full time and reduce his affiliation with Cathedral of Hope to part time. Thursday rehearsals and Sunday services would continue at CoH under Baugh’s direction.

“Cathedral of Hope is my spiritual home,” Baugh said. “I’m excited to be able to continue my work there as well. Both organizations are dear to me and I cannot imagine my musical life without both of them working in tandem.”

Baugh has been with the chorale nine years. He joined during former artistic director Tim Seelig’s final season. Through most of his tenure at TCC, he has been a conductor of specialty groups and has also served as an officer of the organization.

Jaster said planning has begun for the 2015-16 season that will be announced before this season’s final concert in June.

The next concert, entitled “Britain, Beatles and Bond,” takes place April 23-25 at City Performance Hall. Tickets are now on sale.

This weekend, the Chorale performs twice — at the DIFFA event on Saturday and at a memorial for former Chorale president Chet Flake at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 8 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 6525 Inwood Road.

—  David Taffet

Turtle Creek Chorale’s 35th anniversary concert: The boys are back

IMG_9683Sometimes you don’t know how much you miss something until you find it again. That’s what it felt like Saturday night at the Turtle Creek Chorale’s 35th anniversary concert at City Performance Hall. When the curtain rose on the first half, audiences were pleased to see a full complement of tuxedoed men, ably led by interim artistic director Sean Baugh. They were delighted by the singing. But when Act 2 opened and the ranks had increased by 50 percent — and, at the end, with the addition of members of The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, fully doubled if not more — there were audible gasps from the audience. This is the chorale longtime fans remember. And many were there to walk down memory lane with Tim Seelig.

Seelig led the chorale for 20 years — from 1987 to 2007 — and has been the head of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus since 2011, so this reunion was filled with memories … not the least of which was Seelig’s gift for gab and his snarky humor, which he amply shared from the stage.

IMG_9687But it was also the performance of the chorale — not just during Seelig’s set, but Baugh’s as well — that seemed invigorated, inspired. The past two seasons have been hard ones. Baugh spoke more from the stage in six songs than I think former director Trey Jacobs did in two years, and while no one can imitate Seelig, the chorale is always best when its whimsy, sincerity and Texas personality come through. Just as important is its commitment to the gay character of Dallas, something the recently departed executive director shied away from during her disastrous tenure. All that made these past years unmemorable ones for the chorale; Saturday night was not only a concert for remembering past glory days, but — with Baugh and new interim E.D. Bruce Jaster in place — a reason to feel excited that more such days are destined for the future.

At the end, Seelig made an spontaneous plea to the audience to commit to giving — “$5, $10, $100, $10,000 if you have it” — a donation to the chorale within the next three months to keep this significant group (one of the oldest gay men’s choruses in the country, and perhaps the world’s most recorded men’s chorus of all time) alive and kicking for another 35 years. “I won’t be here then,” Seelig said, “but the chorale needs to be.” And after Saturday’s concert, it feels not like empty hope, but an actual, achievable mission.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Bruce Jaster named interim executive director of Turtle Creek Chorale

Bruce Jaster

Bruce Jaster

Bruce Jaster has been named by the board of directors of the Turtle Creek Chorale as its interim executive director, replacing Kim Sosolik, who resigned this week to pursue other business interests.

Jaster was on the board of the Chorale for 10 years and sang with the group for 15 years. He also established an endowment for the Chorale.

He leaves a position with Price Waterhouse to take this job with the Chorale.

In the LGBT community, Jaster was known in the 1990s as an owner of The Reservation Desk, a travel agency based in Oak Lawn that specialized in gay travel. He serves now on the board of The Dallas Way.

Jaster begins his new position on Jan. 27, just two weeks before the Chorale’s 35th anniversary concert that long-time Chorale artistic director Tim Seelig will conduct. Tickets for that concert are available here.

—  David Taffet

Chorale headlines tree lighting at Main Street Garden … and lots more

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Acting director Sean Baugh

UPDATE: Because of expected rain, City Lights has moved to Sunday and the Chorale is scheduled to perform at 7:45 p.m.

Original Post:

The Turtle Creek Chorale headlines the City Lights lighting of the Main Street Garden Christmas tree on Saturday, Nov. 22.

The tree lighting is at 7 p.m. and the Chorale sings at 8 p.m. Main Street Garden is located at 1902 Main St.

The Chorale has seven other outreach concerts in addition to two performances of Jangled in McKinney on Dec. 13 and five performances on Dec. 18-21 at City Performance Hall in the Arts District. Buy tickets here.

The Chorale has a number of other performances around town throughout December.

Nov. 29:
Support Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving by heading up to the historic McKinney Town Square. Poke your head into the shops and enjoy the sweet sounds of members of TCC as they carol about the square from 2–3 p.m.

Dec. 5:
Tune into WRR Classical 101.1 FM from noon–1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5 and enjoy a free one hour Chorale concert. Able to slip away from your desk? Head over to Dallas City Performance Hall and watch the broadcast live.

Dec 5:
Poinsettias and rosemary Christmas trees and Christmas cacti, oh my! Stroll through North Haven Gardens on Friday, Dec. 5 from 5–7 p.m. Local artists will be sharing their new works, artisans will be selling their wares, and the Chorale will be singing.

Dec. 6:
Everyone knows there are a few holiday classics not to be missed. Dallas Theater Center’s A Christmas Carol is a Dallas tradition. Attend the Saturday matinee on Dec. 6 and enjoy caroling from TCC’s small ensemble, Camerata, as you sip your egg nog before the show!

Theater not your thing? Head over to Klyde Warren Park on Dec. 6 and check out TCC on the mainstage from 2:30–3 p.m. Dance on the green. Grab a holiday cupcake from Trailercakes or listen from the Savor patio.

Dec. 7:
Sean Baugh is the Chorale’s acting artistic director. He’ll be the guest on Lambda Weekly on Dec. 7 from 1–2 p.m. Have something to ask — naughty or nice — leave your question here in the comments.

Dec. 8:
Nothing quite describes the Chorale like SPARKLE! OK, we were referring to glitter, but the Hilton Anatole’s Sparkle! event is fun for the whole family.  With indoor skating, face painting, light shows and more, you won’t want to be the only Dallas-ite not there! We recommend going on Monday, Dec. 8 since the Chorale will be singing from 6–6:40 p.m.

Dec. 11:
FINALLY … whew … they made it to they’re last outreach event, and it’s certainly a favorite. TCC will be performing at NorthPark Mall on Thursday, Dec. 11 from 5–5:45 p.m. Shopping and the Chorale? Yes please! Grab your favorite holiday latte and stroll over to the NorthCourt area in front of AMC Theaters for classic holiday carols.

—  David Taffet

2014 Black Tie Dinner: The Night in Photos

The Sheraton Dallas hotel was wall-to-wall Saturday night for the 33rd annual Black Tie Dinner, which raised funds for local beneficiaries and the Human Rights Campaign.

The event featured the presentation of the Kuchling Humanitarian Award to Mike Anglin, the Black Tie Media Award to Dale Hansen and the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award to attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, along with special appearances by NBA star Jason Collins and the Prop 8 plaintiffs.

Comedienne Dana Goldberg emcees the evening, which also featured entertainment by Alex Newell and Steve Grand.

Dallas Voice photographer Cassie Quinn captured the evening in photos:

—  Tammye Nash