After 2 decades at helm of gay men’s chorus, Seelig plans to take new role in ’07 as goodwill ambassador
Tim Seelig, renowned artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale, announced this week he would step down from the position he has held for 19 years at the end of the 2007 season.
Seelig said the timing seemed right for a change for him and for the organization. The 2006 season saw record-breaking attendance at concerts, and income from ticket sales was the highest in the 26-year-old chorale’s history, he said. The chorale is expected to post a profit this year while maintaining its $400,000 endowment, he added.
“Why now?” Seelig said. “Because it’s in great shape. I would never leave an organization in turmoil. That’s not part of my nature.”
Seelig said the highly publicized resignations last fall by several key members of the board of directors who objected to his leadership style had hindered the organization. But the volunteers, staff and singers met the challenge and carried out the chorale’s mission, he said.
“The organization really knuckled down and said we’re going to work really hard and turn this thing around,” Seelig said. “It’s been just extraordinarily gratifying to see everyone pull together on behalf of the Turtle Creek Chorale.”
Seelig said the decision to step down was his own.
“I’m not leaving because I’m upset or mad or because anybody ran me off,” Seelig said. “The people who wanted me gone from the Turtle Creek Chorale are gone so they have no immediate impact on my decision whatsoever.”
The Black Tie Dinner Committee’s surprise decision this year not to include the chorale as a beneficiary of the 2006 dinner after 20 years of financial support also was not a factor, he said.
Some of the members of the board of directors who resigned are involved with the Black Tie Dinner. Black Tie Dinner officials said there was no connection.
“At this point we have no idea why we were dropped as a beneficiary so therefore it couldn’t have anything to do with my decision,” Seelig said.
Mark Hayward, chairman of the chorale’s board of directors, praised Seelig and his contributions.
“Tim Seelig brought to this organization not only a depth of talent musically, but a true gift at motivating the singers and volunteers to believe they could achieve the highest of goals,” Hayward said in a statement. “Replacing such a charismatic, talented man is never easy, but the full and engaged board of directors is prepared to launch an international search in collaboration with the chorale’s leadership for a new artistic director to begin the 2007-2008 season.”
Seelig said he hoped to remain involved with the Turtle Creek Chorale as an advisor and as a goodwill ambassador when he travels and speaks to groups in conjunction with his public education work. He is a published arranger, lyricist and author and a guest conductor. He is also a member of Southern Methodist University’s adjunct music faculty at the Meadows School for the Arts and chairman of the Dallas Independent School District’s choral advisory committee.
“I will not be hands on with the chorale,” Seelig said. “Hopefully, I will be able to continue in a consulting type of fashion and lend them some of the best of what I have to offer.”
Seelig announced his decision to the chorale after the Sunday matinee performance of “Turtles and Tuna” at the Majestic Theater. It was the last meeting of the chorale until Aug. 20 when the summer break ends.
“There is a love relationship between me and the chorale,” Seelig said. “I wanted to do this face to face.”
Seelig said he was concerned if he waited the news might leak out for the chorale members to read in the newspaper or in an e-mail.
“That doesn’t feel right,” Seelig said.
Seelig said he has given a year’s notice because it is customary in the arts and education. He has already planned the 2007 season, and the chorale will soon begin searching for a new artistic director.
“It gives everybody time to breathe, celebrate and make plans,” Seelig said.
Seelig said the chorale would continue its mission of building bridges between diverse groups and ages.
“As far as I am concerned, it is the premiere organization in this town for bridge building,” Seelig said. “Where else are all those people going to gather in a room together?”
Seelig said the chorale would continue to excel.
“We all want the chorale’s reputation and name to continue for a long, long time,” Seelig said. “Dallas is not going to lose that. We’re going to do what we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 30, 2006.
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