Artistic Director Sean Baugh conducts the Turtle Creek Chorale. (Courtesy Turtle Creek Chorale)

The Turtle Creek Chorale is looking for new members for its 39th season

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer
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The Turtle Creek Chorale is looking for new voices to participate in Radiant, the chorus’ 2018-19 season that kicks off with a Sept. 9 concert.

Artistic Director Sean Baugh said anyone interested in singing with the chorale should attend and participate in the chorale’s first open rehearsal on Aug. 21, from 7-10 p.m. at the Sammons Center, located on Oak Lawn Avenue just off Harry Hines Boulevard. He said prospective members are invited to sing along with the chorale or maybe listen for awhile, get a feel for the group and join in when they are comfortable.

At the end of the evening, Baugh said he’ll be signing people up for audition slots.

“We’ll give you a piece of music, provide you with a recording of it and ask you to learn an excerpt,” Baugh said. The excerpt is less than a minute, Baugh said, and prospective members will be asked to perform it in front of only a few people.

“The fear of not being good enough for the chorale is what keeps people away,” Baugh said.

While the chorale is always looking for great singers and has a number of members who could become professional, many members simply enjoy singing. Baugh said no experience is necessary.

“You don’t have to read music,” he said. “You don’t have to have been in a chorus before.”

Baugh said for some, the chorale did replace their experience in church choirs. Some came for the music but stayed for the camaraderie and the friendship.

“Some new members get scared off in the first month,” Baugh said. “They find the task too daunting.”

After almost four decades of multiple concerts a year, Baugh said, the chorale’s leaders know to just let the process work.

New members often think they’re never going to be able to do it, he said, and they panic that they’ll never learn all the music in time. But, “Then the concert comes along and they know it.”

Baugh noted that, to make it even easier, every new member is assigned a big buddy, a friend to guide them along through their first year.

Although the average age of chorale members had been skewing older, last year more younger members joined. In fact, last year’s audition brought the chorale its youngest member, who is 22, and its oldest member, who is 89.

Baugh said stamina is important, but then shrugged and added, “We have ways around that.”

Can’t stand on risers to perform through a two-hour concert? Some members are seated in front of the risers.

Can’t memorize two hours of music? A number of pieces are performed by smaller groups comprised of seasoned chorale veterans or by guest or member soloists.

Membership is limited to those who are male or who identify as male.

Taking time off from work to participate in a tour isn’t required, but Baugh said the recent four-state tour that included stops in churches, a presidential library and college campuses in Tulsa, Little Rock, Shreveport and Tyler “reminded us who we are and why we’re doing this.” Baugh said 175 members participated in the tour, and “I know we touched lives.”

“Don’t be scared,” Baugh said about auditioning. “Singing is the most vulnerable thing you can do. People come in shaking.”

But he said he encourages people who come to audition and wants them to succeed and join the chorale. There’s not a limited number of openings, so every good voice will be accepted.

And for those of us who are tone deaf and can’t stay on pitch but want to be Turtle Creek Chorale members, Baugh said there are also lots of non-singing volunteer opportunities.