Turtle Creek Chorale opens 36th season with renewed energy and purpose


ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Executive Editor
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When Bruce Jaster, the executive director of the Turtle Creek Chorale, heard the slogan for the men’s choir’s upcoming concert Heartland, it brought a smile to his face. “America Never Sounded So Good,” he repeats. “I’m totally enamored of that. The music is across-the-board stunning.”

There’s something about the slogan that subtly hints at the recent victory for gay rights this summer on the constitutionality of marriage equality, though Jaster dismisses that was its intent. Yes, there is a new sense of pride in the gay community that we have collectively earned an important degree of widespread respect. But Jaster thinks in this case the pride is more personal: The chorale has rarely been better.

Screen shot 2015-10-01 at 11.39.11 AMIt’s a sling-shot reversal from a year ago, when the group’s artistic director stepped down and prospects were looking anemic. But a celebratory 35th anniversary concert led by returning former artistic director Tim Seelig, the appointment of both Jaster and new A.D. Sean Baugh and tremendous enthusiasm among the singers and audiences has energized the chorale in tremendous ways. Season ticket subscriptions have shot through the roof; membership has increased (an astonishing 180 live singers will appear at the inaugural concert); and best of all, the music is great.

Jaster credits Baugh’s leadership for a lot of it, especially the opening concert of the season. Called Heartland, it features everything from folk to standards to jazz to showtunes, with special appearances by the Lone Star Wind Orchestra and the TCC’s Partners in Harmony, who will balloon the performers in Act 2 to 250, including about 40 women. And, as always, there will be a sense of humor that goes over the top … but shouldn’t offend anyone. (The opening number, “This Land Is Your Land,” will feature a pageant that only the minds of the chorale would conceive.)

Heartland will kick off the full season at CPH (followed by Home in December, Heroes in March/April and Heartstrings in June), while a soon-to-be-announced “second season” offers a series of smaller concerts at venues across Dallas-Fort Worth.

Jaster is a cheerleader, no doubt, but it’s rare for arts groups to have such a sunny outlook nowadays. This season marks the renewed emphasis on the chorale’s longstanding Sterling Circle membership, which offers VIP treatment for contributors above and beyond ticket sales (including two free tickets to the second season). And to hear Jaster tell it, that’s well worth the investment.

“When I attended the first rehearsal in mid-August, I promise, they could have done a concert the next night,” he insists. “They were that good.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 2, 2015.