Turtle Creek Chorale opens season with an interfaith concert of peace and music

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer stevencraiglindsey@me.com

FAITH, PEACE AND HARMONY  |  Benny Ruiz, a 17-year veteran of the chorale, is also lay liturgist at Holy Trinity Catholic Chuch on Oak Lawn, where the chorale had its first rehearsal 20 years ago.  (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
FAITH, PEACE AND HARMONY | Benny Ruiz, a 17-year veteran of the chorale, is also lay liturgist at Holy Trinity Catholic Chuch on Oak Lawn, where the chorale had its first rehearsal more than 30 years ago. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. Oct. 18. 8 p.m. $17–$20. TurtleCreek.org.


With the tragic gay teen suicides in recent weeks, the timing couldn’t be better for a message of hope presented through beautiful music.

On Monday, the 300-plus member Partners in Harmony chorus — including the Turtle Creek Chorale, the SMU Meadows School of the Arts Chorale and Concert Choir, the Dallas Wind Symphony and singers from more than 40 religious organizations — will perform three peace anthems for A Night of Peace.

“Seven years ago, the Turtle Creek Chorale began Partners in Harmony to solicit religious organizations in the area to sign a piece of paper affirming the belief that all people are created equal regardless of sexual orientation,” says Jonathan Palant, the chorale’s artistic director. “Fast forward six years, and nothing other than this piece of paper really had been done with our Partners in Harmony.”

Last year, the chorale invited singers from 45 religious institutions — synagogues, Baptist churches, Unitarian churches — to join it onstage for one performance. It ended up being a surprising show of unity between religious organizations and the gay community.

That did not surprise Benny Ruiz Jr., a 17-year member of the chorale and parish liturgist at Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

“Most people who know me at church also know that I sing with the Turtle Creek Chorale,” Ruiz says. “In fact, the Turtle Creek Chorale held its first rehearsals in the choir loft at Holy Trinity back in 1980.”

Ruiz says that due to it location on Oak Lawn Avenue, the parish has always had gay members. “We often use the message ‘all are welcome’ in our communications because that is the truth about Holy Trinity parish. We call ourselves ‘The Uptown Catholic

Community,’ which is almost as diverse as the city of Dallas,” he says. “Our parishioners and volunteers live all over the Metroplex. Some travel a long way every weekend because they have been touched by this open spirit of hospitality to all and they in turn want to spread that message.”

Holy Trinity was approached seven years ago to become a Partner in Harmony with the chorale.

“Our pastor was pleased to do so as an affirmation of the belief that all people are created equal,” he says. “This goes hand-in-hand with our message, just as Jesus was welcoming to all.”

For the second year in a row, the chorale is partnering with the Parkland Health & Hospital System Pastoral Care Department and its director, Linda Wilkerson, will be on hand to talk about the hospital program, which just last year celebrated 50 years of service. The concert is intended to raise money and awareness for the program. After her presentation, Wilkerson will light a candle that will burn throughout the concert.

“The purpose is to light the way toward peace in our community, and that candle will burn just as our desire for peace and goodwill continues to burn,” Palant says.

“Messages of peace and tolerance are great when written, better when spoken and acted upon, but best expressed through music and in our singing,” adds Ruiz. It’s an especially poignant message for gay teens.

“There is a great need for peace in the world and especially for tolerance in our nation,” Ruiz says. “The bullying in our schools and intolerance shown to immigrants and religions has been in the headlines way too much lately,” he says. “This night for peace provides the singers and audience a chance to silence all the intolerance and reflect on what the world can be if we all practice living as peacemakers.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.