Chorale president, Mitchell, named as interim chair; letter says resignation prompted by differences in vision
The chair of the board of directors of the Turtle Creek Chorale has quit after serving a little more than a year following the resignations of his predecessor and three board members who cited conflicts within the organization.
Mark Hayward, who took over the chairmanship in October 2005, read a letter announcing his resignation to the 225-member all male chorale on Nov. 7 during a rehearsal meeting.
Hayward said in the letter that he resigned because of comments made to him by members of the group on Nov. 4 during a retreat.
Hayward said in the letter, “I didn’t realize how far apart my beliefs are from what your beliefs are in terms of what is important for the future success of the Turtle Creek Chorale.
“Because our goals are so different, I believe that my personal integrity and ethical standards require me to inform you that I am unable to objectively represent you in carrying out what you are telling me are your key priorities. I am simply unable to do that job that I think you want me to do.”
Hayward’s resignation from the position and the board was immediate.
Hayward said in the letter he looked forward to rejoining the orchestra to play the cello, and that his partner would continue singing with the group.
Although Hayward provided in an e-mail a copy of his letter of resignation, he declined to comment on what had happened at the retreat.
“I have the strongest admiration for the Turtle Creek Chorale and wish everyone in the TCC organization the best,” Hayward said. “I have no further comments for the press.”
Hayward referred all questions to Doug Mitchell, interim chair. Mitchell, the chorale president, will serve until a new officer is elected.
The board of directors was scheduled to meet during a regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday to elect a new chair.
Mitchell declined to comment on what had happened at the retreat.
“I don’t think I can comment on anything that happened at the retreat because it was family time there,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think there was any rehashing of old controversies.”
Last year, in the wake of the resignations, three former chairs of the board said they no longer supported the chorale because of their objections to artistic director Tim Seelig and his interaction with the board and the membership.
At the time of his appointment as chair, Hayward criticized the former chairs and claimed they failed to do their job properly.
“If I were to come to you and say, “I’m quitting because I can’t manage my employee,’ what would you think? Hayward said in October of 2005. “If your boss quit because he can’t manage you, who screwed up?”
In June of this year Seelig, who attended the retreat and participated in the discussion at the retreat, announced that he would be stepping down from his position as artistic director at the end of the 2007 season after 19 years of service. He noted that the timing seemed right for a change because the 2006 season was experiencing record-breaking attendance at concerts, and income from ticket sales was the highest in the chorale’s 26-year history.
Seelig made the announcement after the Dallas-Fort Worth Black Tie Dinner Committee announced the chorale would not be a beneficiary of the fundraiser for the first time in 20 years.
Some of the members of the chorale’s board of directors who resigned were involved with the Black Tie Dinner, but officials for the fundraiser said there was no connection.
Mitchell said Hayward’s conflict with the membership had nothing to do with Seelig’s retirement. The search for a new artistic director continues, he said.
Seelig did not return a message left at his office.
“There is no divergence between the board and the singing membership,” Mitchell said. “We all remain united around the chorale’s mission to entertain, educate, unite and uplift our audience and our members.
“I personally feel that Mark Hayward provided important leadership during the past 13 months. He stepped in at a challenging time and when the organization was heading into a rough financial spot. He lead the TCC through a difficult turnaround and guided the organization, and we finished the fiscal year with positive bottom line after two consecutive years of losses,” Mitchell said.
Eve Campbell, executive director of the chorale, said Hayward’s resignation surprised everyone, and she praised him for bringing stability to the organization
“It was totally his decision,” Campbell said. “We are absolutely disappointed.”
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, November 17, 2006.