By Todd Camp
When you sit down to enjoy a performance of the Turtle Creek Chorale, you’re probably not thinking about how much time went into crafting the show you’re about to experience.
“Oh, I can’t begin to calculate. Hundreds. Hundreds of hours,” says Turtle Creek Chorale Associate Conductor Sean Baugh when asked about the hours of work that go into a typical Chorale performance. Baugh, who has been with Turtle Creek Chorale since 2006, has traditionally served in support of the Artistic Director. But he’s about to step up to the podium to lead the Chorale through the first part of their next season while Turtle Creek Chorale begins its search for a new Artistic Director. In other words, he knows what he’s talking about.
Baugh says most shows start the clock about two and a half months prior to performance. The Artistic Director and staff have already made decisions regarding the theme of the show as well as what pieces may be performed.
“The Artistic Director will personally select the repertoire,” says Baugh. “If the pieces haven’t been arranged for a chorus, that is done. They can also commission new pieces.”
Once the songs are selected, rehearsals begin. Regular chorus members have two rehearsals a week, each lasting two to three hours. If those members happen to be a part of one of Turtle Creek Chorale’s smaller ensembles (such as the Chamber Chorus, Camerata, or the dance-intensive Sound Bytes) they have even more rehearsals. Add choreography to the mix, and the hours add up, including two to three marathon technical rehearsals as performance time nears.
“That doesn’t even include the personal time spent memorizing lyrics and learning the music,” Baugh says. “It takes a lot of time.” To say the least. And once all of their hard work is done, you need only make time to enjoy it.