From fashion and karaoke to inside tips and quizzes, the TCC Blog is sure to entertain.

TURTLE CREEK CHORALE MOVES BRUCE JASTER FROM INTERIM TO PERMANENT STATUS

 

The Board of Directors of the Turtle Creek Chorale has voted unanimously to change the status of Bruce Jaster from interim to full-time, permanent Executive Director.  Jaster joined the staff of the Chorale in January of this year as Executive Director on an interim basis.

Jaster’s history with the Chorale is long, having been a singing member for fifteen years and a member of the Board of Directors for ten years.  “The Chorale has been a part of my life since first attending a concert on the SMU campus in the early 1980’s.  To be able now to serve as Executive Director is a dream realized,” says Jaster.

David Hess, Chair of the Chorale’s Board, added, “We are pleased to take another in the important steps toward assuring that the Chorale is on solid footing and moving toward greater heights.  With this most recent change, and the naming of Sean Baugh as permanent Artistic Director in March, the Chorale no longer has any ‘interim’ placeholders among its staff.”

Jaster has long been active in the Dallas community and nationally.  He currently serves as a Trustee on the Board of AIDS Services of Dallas (ASD), on the Advisory Council of the University of Texas Southwestern School of Orthotics and Prosthetics and on the national Board of Directors for the Orthotic and Prosthetic Activities Foundation (OPAF).

Previously, he has served on the Boards of Directors for The Dallas Way, the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas, the Oak Lawn Counseling Center and on the Governing Committee of the DFW Federal Club.  Additionally, he has been a Board member of the Amputee Coalition of America (now the Amputee Coalition) and Meeting Professionals International.

While an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin, Jaster sang with and served as President of UT’s Longhorn Singers.

PurpleVocals Pop-Up Studio is Coming to Dallas!

 

Former King’s Singers tenor and founder of PurpleVocals, Paul Phoenix, is delighted to announce the launch of the very first ‘PurpleVocals Pop-Up Studio’ which will take place in Dallas on Friday July 17 and Saturday July 18 in the Cathedral of Hope Choir Room.  The studio is open to singers of all ages and abilities, and Paul is available for one on one coaching.

The sessions are also open to small groups, ensembles and choirs, and Paul is offering advice on vocal technique and development, ensemble singing as well as coaching on public performance and engagement. Whether you’re an aspiring soloist or just want to improve your singing skills, why not book a coaching and mentoring session with Paul? His vast experience as a Grammy-Award-Winning member of the King’s Singers from 1997 to 2014 means that he is now in demand as a soloist, mentor, vocal performance and choral coach around the world.

Paul invites members of the public to attend as observers.

Coaching will take place at the following times:
Friday, July 17: Midday – 7pm
Saturday, July 18: Midday – 6pm

Sessions will last around 40 minutes and an accompanist is available.

Session costs:
Individuals: $50 for 40 minutes
Groups: $25 per person for 40 minutes

For further details and to book a slot, please contact Paul direct at:  info@purplevocals.com

 

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A Night Out With the Turtle Creek Chorale

By Augusta Neal

A Turtle Creek Chorale performance may only last a few hours, but why not make a whole day of it? Here’s your perfect day of events to get you prepped and ready to experience the music.

10 a.m.

In the words of @GayAtHomeDad on Twitter, it’s time to snap, crackle, and POP out of bed! Today is going to be amazing and tonight will be even better.

10:05 a.m.

Ignore your desire to sleep in and squeeze in just 25 minutes of exercise. Your thighs will eventually thank you and your exes will be kicking themselves.

11:15 a.m.

Give something away. It feels good knowing someone in need is enjoying that sweater you haven’t worn in years. There is a Goodwill drop off location at 1919 N. Haskell Ave.

11:45 a.m.

Beat the half-after-noon brunch crowd. Go to a fabulous place you’ve never been with your three most fabulous friends. Order a pitcher of mimosas and anything with carbs. Give a toast before every “cheers” to make every clink count. Our favorite brunch spots? While Breadwinners is obviously a signature Dallas choice, BuzzBrews and Sissy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar also hold a soft spot in our hearts.

3 p.m.

It’s splurge o’clock! Buy something that makes you feel like a million bucks, even if you only spent $10. If you’re into affordable designer vintage, Buffalo Exchange on Greenville Ave., is your calling. If you prefer more high-end threads, you must see Rye 51 on McKinney.

4:30 p.m.

Getting ready to go out, if done right, can be just as fun as the main event. Step one: Text your friends to come over stat (who else would you ask the inevitable “do I look fat in this?”). Step two: Wine. Step three: Crank music that makes you feel like the world revolves only for you tonight. Beyoncé’s self-titled album should do the trick.

5 p.m.

It’s a scientific fact that a long, early dinner with good friends is the best way to nourish your soul pre-show. Science or not, it wouldn’t hurt to at least test the theory, right? We crave Italian, and Coal Vines or Terilli’s always hit the spot.

6:45 p.m.

It’s go time! Call an Über, if only for the luxury of being chauffeured. When you arrive, take a selfie, grab a snack from the clothed-tables, and find your seats. Don’t forget to tweet your #TurtleCreekChorale photos to @TurtleCreek! Now, sit back, relax, and let the music move your soul.

9:30 p.m.

You know what goes great with music and friends? Conversation and dessert. There are only seven Sprinkles ATM machines in the United States; brag to your social media friends that Dallas is one of them, and grab a postshow cupcake.

Enjoy the experience, friends.

App We Love Right Now: Quist

By Callie Leahy 

App we love right now: Quist

Website: www.quistapp.com

Available: On the App Store and on Google Play Android Market

About the App 

Quist, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) history app, highlights the events of the past that have made the future of LGBT what it is today. Quist reports historical events on any particular day in history from all around the world, from historical marches and legislature to not-as-well-known historical acts.

Their Mission 

According to their website, Quist’s mission is to educate the world about the roots of the LGBT community, make LGBT history more engaging and relevant, and let LGBT youth know that others have shared their struggle.

Features and Usability 

Whether you’re a history buff or you’re just looking to get to know more about the history of the LGBT community, this app has the ideal features and simplicity for users of all ages.

Events are featured by day in history, but users can also search by country or explore the database of nearly 800 historical events by date. The interactive interface is both easy to use and visually appealing with photos and historical facts listed on each event.

Why We Love This App 

In short, we love Quist because it portrays the same values of Turtle Creek Chorale. TCC has a long-standing history in the city of Dallas for their work with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) charities, outreach, and pride groups, as well HIV/AIDs funding and awareness groups. Throughout the organization though one thing remains clear — their passion for history and LGBT outreach.

Submerge yourself in the unique history of the LGBT community and download the Quist app today or check them out on Facebook.

All reference and source information provided by Quist app website, www.quistapp.com

Ask a Turtle

By Todd Camp

Lucky for us, we get to talk to the Turtles all the time, but we wondered if there were any burning questions out there that you lovers of all things Turtle might have for the members of Dallas’ most celebrated singing ensemble.

So we reached out to 10-year veteran Chorale member Troy Heine, an Irving-based computer programmer by day, to answer the question, “Do you ever get pre-show jitters, stage fright, or even worse, forget the lyrics — any performer’s worst nightmare?”

“Being onstage with 200 other guys does a whole lot to mitigate stage fright. We are perceived as a whole and as long as enough of us are singing the right notes we come across the right way to the audience,” Troy says. “We all endeavor to sing the best we can, and most of the time we’re all pretty decent on the whole. So no, I don’t have much problem with stage fright. I’ve done enough acting on stage to not have any problems with that.”

Before joining the Chorale, Troy says he used to act in high school and early college and was in choir prior to that. His first major stage production was in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific. He also credits his early stage experience with teaching him a valuable lesson about avoiding onstage jitters. “I learned early on that as long as I knew my material, stage fright was not an issue,” he says.

Of course, singing along with an ensemble is certainly not as intimidating as tackling a solo, something Troy says he regretfully has never done.

“If I go through my entire time with the Chorale and never step forward to sing a solo, I’ll feel like I’m missing something,” he says. “But most times, what stops me is not competition but time. There’s a whole lot I would like to do in the Chorale that I can’t because of time. You can get oversaturated really fast.”

‘Jangled’ Unwrapped

By Todd Camp

Never mind 12 days of bouncing royals, thrumming percussionists, and enough feathered fowl to fill an aviary, we prefer our Christmas countdowns in nifty round numbers of 10. So after tallying up our 10 favorite things about the next month’s “Jangled,” we rounded up 10 more things you might not know about the annual holiday hullaballoo.

1. Of all the shows in a TCC season, it has the most repeat performances, with seven (!) scheduled this year alone. The guys will deck the halls with sounds so jolly for two shows at the McKinney Performing Arts Center on Dec. 13, returning to their familiar stomping grounds at Dallas City Performance Hall for five more performances Dec. 18-20, including a family-friendly matinee show on Dec. 20.

2. It’s not only an audience favorite but a Turtle one as well. Several of TCC’s finest claim watching one of the former Christmas shows as inspiration for what made them join the Chorale in the first place.

3. It wouldn’t be a Christmas show without traditional Christmas carols, right? TCC Associate Conductor Sean Baugh says we can expect plenty, including favorites like Deck the Halls, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Little Drummer Boy and Jingle Bells. But he adds that “they all have twist on them, they all have something unique about them.” He also says to expect some brand new music and gorgeous new arrangements of traditional favorites.

4. Speaking of tradition, the annual Christmas show has been a part of the Chorale season since the beginning, making it the longest running regularly themed show in the group’s 35-year history.

5. Though Sean wouldn’t come right out and tell us all of the secrets of “Jangled” (nobody really wants to know what they’re getting for Christmas before they tear open the paper, do they?), he did share a few tidbits. In the spirit of the sad little tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas, he hints that we will get to see the plight of a tree in a Christmas tree lot that never gets picked.

6. In case you’re wondering where the show gets it’s title, Sean says, “We’re being honest with people and saying the holidays have become a headache for a lot of people more than a beloved time of year,” he says. “They’ve been ‘jangled,’ as in ‘jingle-jangled.’ “ But he adds that the goal of the show is to take you on a journey from worrying about overspending and dealing with difficult family members to loving the holidays again, “And we’ll do it with lots of humor, lots of beautiful music, and lots of heartwarming moments.”

7. A sign-language version of Silent Night, a longtime audience favorite, will return, though Sean won’t say what exactly to expect, “We might sing and do sign language, we might be silent — we kind of mix it up.”

8. You can expect another tradition, one Sean calls one of the of the most loved and special moments each year. “In our 35-year history, we have lost more than 190 members to HIV/AIDS and there’s a moment in the concert where we pay tribute to those people by dedicating a poinsettia to them. That’s just one of those traditional moments everybody loves.”

9. After moving from the Meyerson Symphony Center to Dallas City Performance Hall last year, “it has afforded us the ability to do some very theatrical things that you might not see at the Meyerson.” Sean hints. “Expect a bit more drama and a bit more theatrical presentation.”

10. Each year in late October, the Chorale hosts a retreat with its primary focus being the upcoming Christmas show. “It’s just a time to bond and get close to the music and get close to each other,” says Troy Heine, who will be performing in his 10th holiday show this year. “We’re always trying to do our best, but we put so much heart into our Christmas show that I think we really bring our best game to that event.”

Meet the Cast: Rickey Phoummany

By Todd Camp

Being in the Turtle Creek Chorale family already calls for a tremendous amount of giving on each member’s part. You give of your talents, your voice, your energy, your soul, and, of course, your time.

Which is why it’s always inspiring to meet Turtles who still manage to find room to give just a little bit more. Rickey Phoummany is one of those people. Rickey took home the title of Mr. Charity America 2015 on Oct. 5 at the Round Up Saloon.

Mr. and Miss Charity America hosts fundraiser events and benefit shows for Home for the Holidays Texas Inc., an organization that helps provide travel services to people living with HIV/AIDS in order to allow them to go home to be with their families for the holidays.

“It’s [a charity that is] near and dear to me because I live and am surrounded by people who have HIV/AIDS who are struggling and need help, but sometimes are too shy or afraid to ask for help,” says Rickey, a Watauga native who also works as a substitute teacher for Grand Prairie ISD and Arlington ISD when not performing with TCC, and he choreographs for local high schools, working with show choirs and dance/drill teams.

“Having heard the story of how the Chorale went through the AIDS crisis in the documentary The Power of Harmony truly opened my eyes!” he said. “Knowing I can use my talents to raise money and awareness to help out my community is why I love this organization and the Turtle Creek Chorale.”

The charity itself already has a history with the Chorale, with the winner of TCC’s annual Miss Big Thicket fundraising event regularly going on to compete in the Miss Charity America Pageant. Not surprisingly, several former Miss Big Thickets have gone on to become Miss Charity America.

Rickey says that raising funds for an organization like Home for the Holidays Texas is rewarding enough considering the great work they do. In addition to providing much-needed travel funds for the holidays, they also fund emergency trips, trips for families to come to when someone is too sick to travel, funding for people who might be making a final journey home, as well as providing transport for funerals.

They also support other charitable organizations in DFW, including the Fort Worth and Dallas Chapters of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association (TGRA), The United Court of the Lone Star Empire, the North Texas Council of Clubs, and many others.

“This title means a lot because knowing the community came together and helped donate funds to help me win my bid for Mr. Charity America, I feel it’s natural to give back to a community that supported me,” says Rickey.

Rickey encourages anyone who would still like to contribute to this very worthwhile cause to do so at HomeForTheHolidaysTexas.org. Donations are accepted year-round.

Halloween Costumes Hall of Fame

What do you think of when you hear the words “hall of fame”? Maybe rock ’n’ roll or football comes to mind. We think of costumes. Funny, scary, sassy, matching, flashy costumes. Which is why we’re taking a look back at some favorites from Turtles of Halloweens past.

Man-Alice and his adventures in Dallasland!

Halloween costume hall of fame | Turtle Creek Chorale blog
Wes McCormack (Ace of Spades), Tri Truong (Queen of Hearts), Dirk Nettles (Alice in Wonderland), Sean Orr (Mad Hatter), Joshua Goodridge (King of Hearts), Dustin Svatek (Cheshire Cat), Ryan Short (White Rabbit). Lewis Carroll couldn’t have imagined it any better than this.

Tri Truong as a kitten

Halloween costume hall of fame | Turtle Creek Chorale blog

Tri Truong was a cat for Halloween until about the age of 6. From cute cat to singing Turtle, Tri reminisces on his early costume days saying, “I remember my mom knitting me a ton of these kitty cat hats to wear on Halloween with a onesie. They’re totally in vogue now. I wish she would knit me more, but she refuses to knit nowadays. Sad face.”

Dan Baillie as Cruella de Vil

Halloween costume hall of fame | Turtle Creek Chorale blog

This is what Disney villain dreams are made of.

 Paul Hanoski as a flying monkey from the Wizard of Oz.

Halloween costume hall of fame | Turtle Creek Chorale blog

Paul proves both that Turtles can sing and monkeys can fly.

Brian Scott Carey as King Poseidon

Halloween costume hall of fame | Turtle Creek Chorale blog

The No. 1 Halloween Hall of Fame shout out goes to none other than Brian Scott Carey, with his version of King Poseidon and his sea horse mistress. The costumes took over two weeks (and not to mention some serious creativity and dedication) to create, but it paid off. Brian and his boyfriend won the 2013 S4 Halloween costume contest.

Opening Doors for Hope

 

By Todd Camp

One-time rivals became big-time collaborators thanks to a little cooperation and an open heart.

When Turtle Creek Chorale won the IKEA Life Improvement Challenge, they had a chance to sit down with their top competitor and something wonderful happened.

“We had a lunch where Turtle Creek Chorale was so kind to offer to do a benefit concert for us to make up for our loss,” says Valerie Schmitt, Manager of Marketing Strategies with Hope’s Door, a Plano-based support organization for victims of domestic violence. “It’s kind of funny that competition brings you around full circle and in the end, you’re working together toward a good cause.”

Hope’s Door is certainly a worthwhile cause, and their collaboration with the Chorale on an Oct. 11 benefit show couldn’t be better timed, with October being Domestic Violence Awareness month.

“The mission of Hope’s Door is to help entire families that are affected by domestic violence,” Valerie explains. They have an emergency shelter with 21 beds, offer free counseling, provide educational programs, as well as free legal support for victims of domestic violence and counseling services for abusers.

“Our funding needs are huge. Last year, we took in more than 400 individuals at our shelter and had to turn away more than 300,” Valerie says. “There’s always a need for us to grow in order to meet with the ever-growing need of domestic violence victims in Collin and Dallas counties.”

TCC’s Associate Conductor Sean Baugh is equally excited about the collaboration that will also include select members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. “It’s going to be a really nice evening of diverse music,” Sean says, adding that the performance will highlight some Chorale individuals as well as duets and trios. “It’s a bit more of an intimate type of feel.”

Valerie explains that the much-needed funds raised will help the organization expand its staff to cater to the growing demand for help while improving their shelter to allow them to take on more individuals.

If you’re unable to attend but still want to help Hope’s Door, you can make online donations at HopesDoorInc.org, stop by their administrative office (860 F. Ave., Suite 100) in Plano, or shop at the Hope’s Door Resale Store (3000 Custer Road, Suite 220). They also have donation drives and other ways you can give throughout the year.

Valerie reiterated that getting the message out was of utmost importance. “Our ultimate hope is that at least it starts the conversation and lets people know that there are resources available to them,” she says. “I think that before even money that’s the biggest need of all.”

Turtles’ Favorite Singers from Across the Pond

As vocalists and music enthusiasts, the gentlemen of Turtle Creek Chorale definitely have eclectic tastes in all things music and songwriting. You could ask any average Joe on the street who his favorite music artist is right now, and the answer will most likely be pretty basic. But ask a Turtle and you will not only get an interesting answer, but most likely learn something too.

In no particular order, here are the Turtles’ favorite singers from across the pond.

  1. Annie Lennox from Eurythmics. “You simply have to listen to her voice and you’ll be mesmerized,” says Bob McCranie.
  2. Elton John. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the first album TCC member Kevin Stone bought with his own money. “I played that album constantly! Listening to it took me to another world!”
  3. Andrew Lloyd Webber. Steven Laurence Mitchell describes him as a genius. “I love his music, and he has written so many award-winning, long running shows.”
  4. Amy Winehouse. Tri Truong respects her “different and unique songs,” emphasizing her authenticity.
  5. Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. TCC member Garret Pruessner praises Yorke and Greenwood for their brilliance in music composition and lyrical poetry. “They continue to combine acoustic and electronic elements in their music. I love Yorke’s unusual vocal style and the haunting tension of Jonny Greenwood’s guitars.”
  6. Tom Bailey and Simon Le Bon. Eric Ramsey speaks passionately about the singers of his favorite Brit bands, Thompson Twins and Duran Duran. “Their music was innovative, the lyrics were intelligent poetry, and each member’s instrument was treated as a solo voice within a broader synergistic sound. They were also my refuge from the trials of being the odd man out and satisfied my need for complex music.”
  7. Bono. U2’s lead singer is TCC singer Bryan Daniel’s pick for favorite artist across the pond, so I think it’s safe to assume Daniel was more than okay with Apple’s latest music stunt.

Time to update our music playlists and get amped about the Chorale’s upcoming performance of British-inspired hits!