Chorale’s artistic director sees group’s first trip abroad since 1995 as ‘a gift from the city of Dallas to another community’

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor

Turtle Creek Chorale Artistic Director Jonathan Palant

SCOPING OUT THE POSSIBILITIES | Turtle Creek Chorale Artistic Director Jonathan Palant traveled to Spain last January to check out possible venues in which the Chorale could perform during the group’s 11-day concert tour this summer. TCC’s first formal concert will be in the outdoor venue in front of the Royal Palace in Madrid, pictured above behind Palant. (Photo courtesy Jonathan Palant)

About 100 members of the Turtle Creek Chorale will leave Thursday, July 1 for an 11-day concert tour of Spain, with a schedule that puts them in Madrid just in time for the city’s annual gay Pride celebration on July 3, the largest gay Pride celebration in Europe.

“It’s an evening parade, and they have more than a million people who attend,” said Jonathan Palant, TCC’s artistic director. “We will get to march in the parade and afterward we’ll give a performance on the main stage in Plaza de Espana.”

The trip winds up TCC’s 30th anniversary season, and Palant said its purpose is to celebrate the anniversary and give Chorale members a treat, but also to “take our mission abroad. This tour is a gift from the city of Dallas to another community. Not only will we get to experience their culture, they will get to experience a piece of our culture, too.”

Palant said TCC has been working with the Spanish Consulate for the southwest region of the U.S. to plan the trip and make the proper connections. The group also takes with it an official letter from Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, and has been in touch with the U.S. Embassy in Spain to plan the trip.

“We have an invitation to perform at the Embassy while we are there,” he said. “This is a trip about outreach and good will. It’s no secret that international travel has really been down since 9-11. Arts organizations are simply not taking on this kind of activity right now.

“But I firmly believe that a trip like this not only benefits the individual travelers making the trip and our organization as a whole, it also keeps the bridge between the two countries open,” Palant said. “It’s just so important that we maintain a social presence abroad as well as a political presence. We want to demonstrate with open arms the spirit of the American community in general, and the gay American community in particular.”

The trip is TCC’s first trip abroad since 1995 and only its second foray into Europe, Palant said.

The Chorale will sing the Black-Eyed Peas’ “I Got A Feeling” and the Judy Garland classic “Over the Rainbow” during their post-parade performance on Saturday. But the Madrid audience will get a taste of more usual TCC fare the next night, July 4, when the Chorale presents a formal concert in the Sabatini Gardens in front of the Madrid Royal Palace.

This concert is part of the city’s Festival Verano de La Villa, Palant said, and part of the proceeds will benefit the COGAM Collective, an organization that Palant described as “Madrid’s version of the Human Rights Campaign.”

From Madrid, the Chorale heads to Seville for a July 6 performance at the Centro Cultural Cajasol, with a stop in Cordoba on the way. The group will also travel to Granada and Valencia — Dallas’ international sister city — during the tour, with their final performance set for July 9 as the closing act of the Catalan Federation of Choral Music festival in Barcelona.

TCC is being hosted in the festival by Pantares Grogues, a “brand new” gay and lesbian choir.

Palant said the roots of the Spain concert tour started growing about 2½ years ago with plans to take TCC to Israel to perform.

When that idea fell through, the Chorale membership was presented with four options. Based on location, cost and length of the trip, the members chose Spain.

It will cost each Chorale member about $3,500 to take the trip, and they have been working for more than a year to raise the money, Palant said, through events like “adopt a singer,” car washes and more.

Having rather extensive experience leading such tours, Palant said he is excited to have the chance to be part of what he expects to be truly special experience for many TCC members.

But Palant also expects the trip to ultimately be a gift to TCC’s supporters and patrons back home in Dallas, too.

“I think that we will bring back a renewed passion for what we do. Dallas will gain a renewed sense of the commitment and the passion and the love for this organization that our members will bring back with them. I think we will leave with expectations, but we will come home with the reality of the experience and with a renewed love of our own city and all the little things in life that we sometimes take for granted.

“I am really excited about this trip,” Palant said. “And I am really proud of our organization for having the courage and the desire to always take the next step, to always reach out for the unreachable.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 25, 2010.