Turtle Creek Chorale celebrates its 34th anniversary


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.

Screen shot 2014-02-19 at 4.22.40 PM

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

Former TCC director Tim Seelig discriminated against by vacation company

SeeligDr. Timothy Seelig, who for 20 years was the charismatic artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale,  and who for the last three has been in San Francisco (where he’s led that city’s gay men’s chorus), is used to being out and proud. And loud. Which is why a company called Best Vacations Ever is probably kicking itself for pissing him off.

As the Huffington Post reports, Seelig and his partner Dan England were booking a trip together to enjoy the offer of a time share, extended to them by the company. They had planned a trip to Las Vegas but were told same-sex couples were not allowed to book in the town known as Sin City. (They did offer Orlando and NOLA as alternative destinations.)

But what doesn’t happen in Vegas doesn’t stay there. Seelig called media, and BVE reneged on the denial, claiming it was not company policy, and offering to book them to Las Vegas, gratis. They declined.

BVE has since explained the policy and what they called a mistake, but Seelig wouldn’t have any of it. We mean it when we say don’t mess with Texas. That also goes for Texans — even former residents.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Seth Rudetsky and TCC: Amahhhzing!


Broadway vet and self-confessed showtune obsessive Seth Rudetsky launched the Turtle Creek Chorale’s 34th (!) season last night at the Meyerson with his one-man act that put to shame folks who consider themselves knowledgable theater queens.

Rudetsky’s shtick — an hour-long monologue with some piano playing and lots of audio clips — is a deconstruction of what makes great singers great, and sometime terrible. (Or, in Rudetsky’s words, “Amahhhzing!!!!” and “Uh….mahzing.”) He parses vibrato versus sliding off-key, belting a song (“head voice”) versus playing it close to the chest (Carly Simon is his favorite exponent of that), riffing for showiness versus expert control. And he did so in such a speedy Long Island accent, it was sometimes difficult to catch it all. (Don Jones, the TCC’s sign interpreter for 20 years, got a shout-out from Rudetsky for his ability to keep up.) But over and over, his encyclopedic knowledge and sense of the fabulous won over the audience.

He also set up Act 2 of the concert, in which the TCC performed with its Partners in Harmony, songs from Broadway, starting with a piece from Les Miserables and the most appropriate song from the operetta The Most Happy Fella, “Big D,” before seguing into Doris Day, a piece from Ragtime (which the chorale performed with Uptown Players earlier this year) and Sweeney Todd (which the chorale will perform with Uptown Players next year). It was a song-filled evening, and a nice kick-off for the storied men’s chorus’ next season.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Seth Rudetsky pitches his show with the Turtle Creek Chorale

DSC_9979In today’s print edition, I have an interview with Broadway expert Seth Rudetsky about the show he has with the Turtle Creek Chorale on Sunday, Deconstructing Broadway. You can read all the details there — and I hope you will — but you can also hear Rudetsky talk (in that inimitable style) on this video, made expressly for his appearance in Dallas. Enjoy.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Reflections on ‘A Gathering 2013′

Last night’s well-attended A Gathering 2013  at the Winspear Opera House was a very special occasion — not only for the collaborative, diva-free atmosphere, but for what it had to say about AIDS and resilience and hope. At times, it was very moving … never more so than during the Turtle Creek Chorale’s “Sure on This Shining Night,” when a video montage of faces of the nearly 200 chorale members lost to AIDS scrolled by. One could not help but be astonished at how so many gone were young, handsome, vibrant, happy folks cut down far too soon.

Markus Lloyd brought down the house at the end of Act 1 with his soulful rendition of “I’ll Cover You” from Rent, and soprano Mary Dunleavy was remarkable on “Nisi Dominus.” It was a stirring performance — not just for them, but all the artists onstage.

Check out some behind the scenes photos of the rehearsal below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Outrageous Oral shares stories on Turtle Creek Chorale, Black Tie Dinner


Kay Wilkinson

Outrageous Oral, the oral history project of The Dallas Way, featured four speakers who told stories about the Turtle Creek Chorale, the Black Tie Dinner and the recent Supreme Court decisions last night at the Rose Room.

Bruce Jaster kicked off the evening talking about the early days of the Turtle Creek Chorale. Because of financial problems that almost bankrupted the organization, the previous director left. Payroll taxes remained unpaid. When Tim Seelig was hired, the chorale could afford to pay him just $12,500, but within a year the group broke even and the budget quickly grew to a million dollars a year.

Dallas Way President Kay Wilkinson raised money to pay off the deficit by announcing, “I have a huge hole to fill,” a line that still haunts her. But she filled the hole and today the chorale is the most recorded men’s chorus in the country and the only one with an Emmy Award under its belt.

Mike Grossman talked about who inspired him and some of the groups he helped found. He talked about a group he was trying to help form. The party at his house was a dud until his 16-year-old son suggested bringing out a few joints. The party picked up, the group formed and is now a synagogue that is a member of the Union of Reform Judaism and a Black Tie Dinner recipient.

Mike Anglin is an attorney who has helped incorporate a number of organizations including Razzle Dazzle Dallas and Black Tie Dinner. He told the story of the founding of the Black Tie Dinner and why the Dallas dinner is the most successful in the country — local groups are invested in making it successful by sharing in the funds raised. He also described the awards at early dinners. Originally the announcement of the Kuchling Award was made at the dinner and the recipient’s speech was “thank you.” I really like that.

The next Outrageous Oral takes place at University of North Texas in the Willis Library on Oct. 17 with a reception to dedicate the Resource Center Archives at 5 p.m. and Outrageous Oral at 7 p.m.

More photos below.

—  David Taffet

Lots of LGBT orgs participating in North Texas Giving Day on Thursday


North Texas Giving Day is Thursday and a lot of LGBT organizations are participating.

Donations can be made online from 7 a.m. to midnight by going here and searching for an organization.

Among the LGBT organizations participating are AIDS Arms, AIDS Outreach, AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas, Legal Hospice of Texas, Legacy Gay & Lesbian Fund for Dallas, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, and North Texas Food Bank, which supplies much of the food for Resource Center’s food pantry.

Communities Foundation of Texas organized the event. Each $25 donation and above received Thursday will get bonus funds. If an organization receives 32 individual donations, it will be entered to win an additional $10,000.

Funds can also be designated to a specific program in the notes section.

For a complete list of organizations, go here.

—  Anna Waugh

Razzle Dazzle Dallas, MetroBall distribute $59K to beneficiaries


Razzle Dazzle Dallas presents a check for $43,000 to the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.

Razzle Dazzle Dallas distributed $59,000 from its events to its beneficiaries last night at Sue Ellen’s. The total was several thousand dollars more than last year.

Thelma Houston headlined the Metro Ball at S4 on June 7 benefiting the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund. That organization provides financial assistance for critical needs such as rent and utility payments when all other resources are exhausted.

GDMAF received $43,000. That’s a $10,000 increase over last year. Razzle Dazzle chair John Cooper-Lara attributed that to a very successful silent auction and Houston’s enthusiastic participation in the live auction.

The Main Event, held on June 8 at Main Street Garden, benefited AIDS Arms, AIDS Interfaith Network, Cedar Springs Beautification Project, Legacy Counseling Center, Legal Hospice of Texas, Resource Center Dallas, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and Turtle Creek Chorale. Those groups will share $16,000.

This was the first year the Main Event was held off Cedar Springs Road. The amount distributed to the community organizations was down from last year’s $25,000. Organizers plan to return Downtown next year and hope the event will build into a larger Pride party.


Board members from Razzle Dazzle Dallas with a check for eight LGBT organizations.

—  David Taffet

Turtle Creek Chorale performs at Dallas City Council swearing-in ceremony


Outgoing council members sat in front of the incoming Dallas City Council as members of the Turtle Creek Chorale in the Choral Terrace sang the national anthem.

The predominantly gay Turtle Creek Chorale opened the swearing-in ceremony for the Dallas City Council this morning at the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center. About 50 members of the Chorale participated.

A number of out officials and former officials, including Sheriff Lupe Valdez and former District 2 Councilman John Loza, attended. Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance were well represented. Among family members attending was Cowboys hall-of-famer Roger Staubach, whose daughter Jennifer Staubach Gates was sworn in as District 13 councilwoman.

Mayor Mike Rawlings paid tribute to five members leaving the council. The outgoing council had more women than any other council in the city’s history. All five members leaving are women.

Among those leaving, Rawlings cited Delia Jasso for her work on the LGBT Task Force and growth of business in her district, especially in Bishop Arts. He mentioned her recognition by the National Diversity Council in April as the most powerful and influential woman in Texas. He credited her with educating him on domestic violence issues. Rawlings made no mention of Jasso’s stunning recent betrayal of the LGBT community when she withdrew her support for an equality resolution, which effectively killed the measure.

The mayor called Angela Hunt a good friend. As the youngest person ever elected to Dallas City Council, he said she brought a new vitality to the horseshoe.

—  David Taffet

Turtle Creek Chorale defends concert with tea-bagging singer Sandi Patty

Sandy Patti

Sandi Patty

We received a message last night from a member of the Turtle Creek Chorale calling our attention to the appearance of gospel singer Sandi Patty’s name on a list of speakers and VIPs at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s ongoing Road to Majority Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition is headed by former moral majority leader Ralph Reed, and the conference is being headlined by the likes of Sarah Palin, Sen. Ted Cruz and Brian Brown of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.

According to ThinkProgress, the three-day conference will include “a massive lobbying effort including hundreds of Tea Party evangelicals knocking on the doors of their U.S. senators and congressmen today, demanding a replacement law for what most expects to be a Supreme Court ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional.”

Patty, a five-time Grammy Award winner, is scheduled to join the chorale next Thursday for “Inspiration & Hope,” a one-night-only concert at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas — which brings us back to the message from the TCC member, who asked to remain anonymous.

“The TCC is set to sing next Thursday with Sandi Patty, even as her name appears on the list in this article,” he wrote. “There is quite a conversation going on today among the members.”

—  John Wright