Palant chosen from among 3 finalists for position after weekend of interviews, rehearsals with singers
Jonathan Palant, a professor of chorale music who currently serves as the assistant conductor of the Michigan State Men’s Glee Club, was named the new artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale, the group announced Wednesday, March 28.
“Jonathan Palant is the most wonderful choice for this position, and Dallas is going to be very proud of our selection,” said Peter Anderson, the chorale’s chairman of the board of directors, in a statement.
Palant said: “I am both humbled and thrilled to have been named the next artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale. I promise to give my all to this organization and to the city of Dallas.”
Palant, 32, was one of three finalists for the post following a national search that began in September. Along with fellow candidates James K. Bass and Randi von Allefson, Palant met with the selection committee and auditioned with the singing members of the group last weekend. Although the selection committee narrowed the field, it was the singers who actually voted on their choice for artistic director. Approximately 120 of the singers were able to participate in the process.
“Each individual filled out an evaluation at the end of each performance and at the end of all three, filled out a form ranking the candidates,” according to Craig Popkess, the chorale’s executive director. “It was actually the chorale that made the decision. The selection committee just took the result of the chorale’s evaluation to the board of directors.”
The board approved the selection on Sunday, March 25. Palant’s appointment was announced to the members at rehearsal on Tuesday, March 27.
Currently an assistant professor at Madonna University in Livonia, Mich., Palant will receive his doctorate in chorale conducting from Michigan State University in May. He has previously conducted for men’s groups in Cleveland and Philadelphia and led choirs as far away as Denmark and Puerto Rico.
When he ascends to the position on Aug. 1, Palant will become the fifth artistic director in the chorale’s 27-year history. He will be the first new person to hold the post since 1987, when Dr. Tim Seelig was hired. Seelig announced his retirement last June.
Popkess said that while his official start date will not be until August, the chorale is already working closely with Palant on the upcoming 2007-08 season, which they plan to announce in June.
“We have a season to put together and it’s his season,” Popkess said. “All of the candidates had to bring us a season plan we told them our dates and said, “‘Tell us what you will do with them.'”
Palant will take over during a period of transition at the chorale. Anderson took over as board chair in November, following the sudden departure by Mark Hayward. Eve Campbell stepped down as executive director several weeks later, after less than a year in the position. Earlier this month, the chorale unexpectedly canceled a production of the concert musical “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” reportedly due to sluggish ticket sales.
The 200-plus member organization is one of the most celebrated men’s choruses in the country, having recorded 36 albums and holding a record in the Guinness Book of World Records for longest choral concert.
Two acclaimed documentaries have been made about the chorale, one of which won an Emmy Award.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 30, 2007