Turtle Creek Chorale is always busy in our community. Catch up with the latest news!

Finding Resonance

By Russ Weeks, Singing Member

Six years ago this month I was dating an amazing guy named Derek. He mentioned to me that he was auditioning for Turtle Creek Chorale, and I should join him. I had only seen one Turtle Creek Chorale Christmas show, and I was, of course, blown away. I couldn’t imagine that someone like me could be part of such astounding talent. I thought it would be difficult to qualify for an internationally renowned men’s chorus. The more Derek talked about it, the more I thought, “Why not?” I had loved music for as long as I can remember. From the moment I could hear, music was part of me.

Derek and I didn’t continue to date, but I auditioned, and I’ve been a singing member of Turtle Creek Chorale for six years and counting. My quality of life has improved exponentially in those six resounding years. Singing with and belonging to Turtle Creek Chorale adds so much to my life.

Russ with Sandi Patty

Russ with Sandi Patty

TCC has afforded me the opportunity to sing on numerous stages with hundreds of brothers in song. I have been exposed to numerous genres of music that I wouldn’t have ever encountered otherwise. I have also been able to sing with celebrities, local and international. One of my favorite moments was singing with the immensely talented and gracious Sandi Patty. Growing up, my home was filled with her music, and it was an enormous honor and spiritual experience to sing with her.

While the actual concert performances are magical, sometimes the weekly rehearsals are most special to me. As with anything in life, the real beauty comes in the journey and the process. I have had countless “laughter through tears” moments in rehearsal. I remember one of my favorite rehearsals which happened to also be my birthday. We were rehearsing a beautiful song, and I looked over at my friend Stephen, and he mouthed, “Happy Birthday; I love you.” I was overwhelmed with gratitude, and my eyes filled with happy tears in that moment. Week after week, we turtle brothers show up to rehearsal, and regardless of what’s going on in our personal lives, we open our binders and our hearts and pour out our souls. Our souls intermingle with each other and something unimaginable happens.

I’ve been blessed to sing under three brilliant conductors in the past five years. I’ve learned so much from each of them. I’ve learned about musicianship, leadership, brotherly love, and so much more. I’ve learned that I’m a quiet leader, as well. People from work and in my personal life have even commented on how being in the chorale has helped me to show who I really am and to take ownership of my strengths and share them more openly.

Garrett Pruessner, Sonny Banthabandith, & Marge Williams backstage at "Jangled"

Garrett Pruessner, Sonny Banthabandith, & Marge Williams backstage at “Jangled”

TCC has helped me realize just how funny I am. Last Christmas, our current artistic director, Sean Baugh,  believed that I would be right for a comedic role in the show. So I put on a skirt suit and a teased out wig, and I kind of brought the house down. I was so proud of myself in that moment. I love to make people laugh, and Turtle Creek Chorale allowed me to do that. During Jangled, when I played Marge Williams, my family came to one of the shows. I was worried my mom might be a little embarrassed, but when I greeted her in the lobby in my Marge garb, she beamed with pride, smiled from ear-to-ear, and shouted, “Oh my GOSH! Can I get my picture made with you?!?!” I will never forget that moment. You’re never too old to be affirmed by a proud parent.

We all need that extra something that adds a layer of depth to our lives. For some it’s running or writing or quilting or acting. The list goes on. I hope you’ve found that extra layer. For me it is music. And when I’m standing onstage with my Turtle Brothers, there are intangible, yet palpable moments of sound that emanate between us. Then those extraordinary moments of sound project out to the audience, and the audience gives it right back to us. That is a feeling like nothing else in the world. I’m so grateful to TCC (and to Derek!) for giving me this gift and for allowing me to share the experience with my brothers and the many audiences, past, present and future.


If you’re interesting in becoming a member, please sign up here, and a member will reach out to you with more information.



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



TCC to Sing National Anthem at NAGAAA

The Gay Softball World Series begins today — we have coverage of it here — and the opening ceremonies, already set to have Dale Hansen on hand, will start off with the National Anthem being sung by the Turtle Creek Chorale.

The opening ceremonies will be at Annette Strauss  Square, adjacent to the Winspear Opera House, Sept. 22 from 5:30–9:30 p.m. About 3,000 attendees are expected.

We haven’t heard much from the Chorale since the resignation last spring of artistic director Trey Jacobs, other than the appointment of interim director Sean Baugh. This will be the first public performance from the group since June. The next will be Oct. 17 at the Latino Cultural Center, before the Christmas concert series in December.

Originally appeared on September 22, 2014 in the Dallas Voice.

Texas Instruments gives $1.3 million in grants to North Texas arts and culture organizations


DALLAS, Sept. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Texas Instruments and the Texas Instruments (TI) Foundation recently made a combined $1.3 million in contributions to a variety of North Texas arts and culture organizations, continuing TI’s commitment to help enhance the quality of life in its headquarters community.

This year’s arts grant recipients include the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas Black Dance Theater, Dallas Children’s Theater, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Opera, Dallas Summer Musicals, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Theater Center,Dallas Zoo, Latino Cultural Center, Nasher Sculpture Center and the Turtle Creek Chorale.

“Dallas has an arts and culture community that is among the best in the United States.” said Andy Smith, executive director of the Texas Instruments Foundation. “We are pleased to support these great institutions that bring such pleasure to North Texas and make our community a more vibrant place to live.”

TI has long supported arts and culture in Dallas, and during recent challenging economic times, the TI Foundation has provided general operations support to many valued nonprofit arts organizations.

“TI continues to lead the way for corporate supporters of the arts in Dallas,” said Katherine Wagner, chief executive officer of the Business Council for the Arts. “These grants will provide much-need funding to our arts community, helping them provide quality visual and performing arts programs while elevating the quality of life and spurring economic growth for the North Texas region.”

TI also encourages U.S.-based employee and retiree donations, matching their support to eligible arts/culture groups via the TI Foundation matching gifts program.

“Before investing, we evaluate the impact our contributions will likely make and the specific goals for each initiative,” Smith said. “Ultimately, we want to enrich the culture of the North Texas area and provide top-notch arts and culture programming for our employees, citizens and visitors alike, which allow businesses, economic development and tourism to thrive for the benefit of all in Dallas.”

About Texas Instruments Foundation

The Texas Instruments Foundation, founded in 1964, is a non-profit organization providing philanthropic support for educational and charitable purposes primarily in the communities where Texas Instruments operates. While its primary focus is on providing knowledge, skills and programs to improve science, technology, engineering and math education, the Texas Instruments Foundation also invests in arts and culture and in health and human services programs that meet the greatest community needs.

About Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) is a global semiconductor design and manufacturing company that develops analog ICs and embedded processors. By employing the world’s brightest minds, TI creates innovations that shape the future of technology. TI is helping more than 100,000 customers transform the future, today. Learn more at www.ti.com.

Originally appeared on September 18, 2014.

Baugh to serve as Chorale interim director; Seelig to return for one concert

Turtle Creek Chorale announced today that Associate Conductor Sean Baugh will continue in that position and lead the chorale as it searches for a permanent artistic director.

To celebrate the Chorale’s 35th anniversary, former director Tim Seelig will be back in February to conduct a concert.

Baugh will conduct Brave, the first concert scheduled for Oct. 17–18 at the Latino Cultural Center.

“I just can’t express how excited I am, and how privileged I feel, to be leading the Turtle Creek Chorale at this time,” Baugh said. “It’s our 35th anniversary, and I can’t think of a more exciting time to be with this group of men. It’s a time of change and refocus, but the TCC is resilient, and more excited and engaged than ever. It will be an incredible year for our singers and audience members alike.”

Baugh also invited anyone who has ever performed with the Chorale to come back.

“You do not have to audition as a new member,” he wrote on Facebook. “Once a Turtle, always a Turtle.”

He asked former members to send him a private message or come to the first rehearsal on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Sammons Center.

Marketing director Caroline French said Brave tells stories of perseverance and courage. Chorale members will share stories of brave moments fighting AIDS, bullying and other obstacles in their lives.

The rest of the Chorale’s season:

Jangled is the Christmas show on Dec. 18-21 at City Performance Hall.

The 35th anniversary concert featuring Seelig takes place on Feb. 7 at City Performance Hall.

Britten, Beatles & Bond is April 23-25 at City Performance Hall.

Musica de Mayo is May 1-2 at the Latino Cultural Center.

The season ends with Turtle-ly 80s on June 12-14 at City Performance Hall.

Tickets will be available Sept. 1 at the website or at 214-526-3214.

Originally appeared on September 15, 2014 in the Dallas Voice.

Giving Day benefiting local LGBT, AIDS nonprofit organizations

Communities Foundation of Texas hopes North Texas Giving Day will break national records — again

At least seven area AIDS agencies, three local choruses and a variety of other nonprofit organizations staffed by or benefiting the LGBT community are among the beneficiaries of North Texas Giving Day on Sept. 18.

During one 18-hour period, Communities Foundation of Texas hopes to break last year’s record of giving, when 75,369 donations totaling $25.2 million were donated to help 1,350 local agencies. The event broke national records for a single-day, community-wide giving event.

According to Carol Goglia, communications director for Communities Foundation of Texas, last year’s donations came from all 50 states and 35 countries.

When it started in 2009, the Dallas giving day was one of the first three such events in the country. Similar fundraising efforts are held in 60 cities now.

Goglia said reporters from other cities have called her to talk about the success Dallas has had in this cooperative fundraising effort. She said in Dallas, groups are good at working together.

Black Tie Dinner, which funds up to 20 local organizations and Human Rights Campaign in D.C. by working cooperatively to raise money, is a good example of that.

“A rising tide lifts all boats,” Goglia said. “We support each other.”

The majority of gifts are under $100, but some are over $50,000.

When the event began, 345 nonprofits from Dallas participated. This year, more than 1,600 agencies from a 16-county region across North Texas are registered.

Goglia said some are just listed so they can receive money in case anyone is looking for them. Others send emails to their donor base to let them know about the event.

Then there’s the Turtle Creek Chorale.

In its first year, the chorale held a pajama party at midnight when the donation page on the website opened. The next year, donation time was pushed up to dawn, so the chorale had a “Get Up and Give” party. In 2011, that party was upgraded to a “Bring Your Own Bed to Get Up and Give,” with themed bed vignettes.

Goglia called the chorale’s promotions very funny and very effective.

Last year, the chorale marketing and development coordinator, Caroline French, said she’d dance on stage at the holiday concert if they raised $25,000. Donors met the challenge and French made her dance debut.

“We’re always looking for innovative ways to participate,” French said.

She said there’s a new challenge on tap for this year, but wasn’t ready to reveal what that is.

Dave Chaos is station manager of 89.3 KNON-FM, which has aired LGBT talk show Lambda Weekly since the station went on the air in 1983. The station is mostly funded through on-air pledge drives.

Throughout Community Giving Day, Chaos said the station will air announcements about North Texas Giving Day and direct listeners to the community giving website.

Chaos said he thinks the donors on that day differ from pledge-drive donors.

“People take the fact we’re here for granted,” he said. “Some people tune out during pledge drive.”

He said the giving day donors who respond to the one-day event feel they’re part of a community-wide event and don’t necessarily respond to the station’s individual appeals. Some who donate, though, may include the station in multiple donations they’re making.

According to Goglia, half the donors that participated last year donated to more than one charity. One out of every four donors was giving to their nonprofit for the first time.

Goglia said Communities Foundation chose September for the event because it’s after the summer doldrums, kids are back in school and people are getting into the swing of things again.

She said the timing works well because it’s before most agencies make their end-of-year donor push.

But the timing doesn’t work for every agency. Although they’re listed as one of the beneficiaries, AIDS Arms has its largest annual fundraiser, LifeWalk, just two weeks later.

AIDS Arms Development Director Tori Hobbs said they welcome any way people are encouraged to give. The event is listed in their monthly newsletter and they’ll be sending out a link the night before, but most of their effort right now is concentrated on the Oct. 5 walk in Lee Park.

AIDS Outreach Center Development Director Mary Rusnak said they’re limiting their promotion this year as well.

“We just completed our Red Ribbon Circle major gifts initiative with the Meadows Foundation, so we’re keeping our ask low-key,” Rusnak said.

She said it would be nice if they receive a number of small donations from people they didn’t reach during the summer campaign or from those who’ve gotten to know the agency better and would like to give more. But next year they’ll do some more innovative marketing concept, she said.
On Sept. 18, go to the giving page on NorthTexasGivingDay.org. On that page, find the organization one of three ways — through a category search, a multi-organization search or a simple name search.

Originally appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 12, 2014.

Crowds celebrate Meyerson Symphony Center’s 25th anniversary


The Meyerson Symphony Center’s weeklong celebration of its 25th anniversary kicked off Saturday morning with a party favorite: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

The Mighty Mustang Band from J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson marched — and sometimes danced — from One Arts Plaza down Flora Street blaring the hit song for parents, Meyerson staff and visitors. A medley of Billy Joel hits followed, along with a showcase of the percussion section.

“Basically we’re just really, really excited to have everyone here,” said Debi Peña, the vice president of people and facilities at the Meyerson. She helped organize Saturday’s kickoff party and was on hand to greet visitors who had come for the festivities, set 25 years to the day from when the building opened.

Additional events are scheduled throughout the week, including concerts from the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and the Dallas Symphony Chorus with organist Mary Preston.

Kids and their parents roamed throughout the Meyerson on Saturday, learning about musical instruments, getting tours of the building’s acoustics and identifying architectural details.

The all-day event also featured performances from organizations with ties to the Meyerson: the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Turtle Creek Chorale, the Avant Chamber Ballet and the Dallas Winds Saxophone Quartet. The J.J. Pearce band, leading the celebration, also has ties to the Meyerson.

“J.J. Pearce, a lot of people might not know, was the first high school to play in the Meyerson, which is why they were selected,” Peña said.

Classical station WRR-FM (101.1) host Nancy Brunson was the master of ceremonies for the day’s concerts and called the Meyerson “a world-class venue for a world-class orchestra.”

“We are so happy that you are joining with us this morning as we celebrate the 25th birthday of our beautiful Meyerson Symphony Center,” she told the small crowd who gathered to watch the DSO and new assistant conductor Karina Canellakis perform Johann Strauss II’s Blue Danube waltz.

The performances brought out dozens of Dallas-Fort Worth-area residents, including Lucas resident Simon Dalley, his wife, Miki, and 9-year-old daughter Ayana.

“We love music,” Simon Dalley said. “We live too far away to come often to see the DSO, so this is a good opportunity.”

Dallas resident Lynne Dedmon has been a longtime subscriber to events at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Her son was also part of the first celebration 25 years ago through the J.J. Pearce band. She said Saturday’s festivities brought back a lot of memories.

“We love this facility,” she said. “It’s the best.”

Peña said the building has had a real impact on the people of Dallas and the people who built it.

“It has really come to mean a lot,” she said. “I have gotten to know the people who were really strategic in getting this building built, and I see tears in the eyes of Joe Walker who was the head of the construction company that built this building. Just knowing, really, the love, the passion, the concern that went into building this building, it makes it even that much more special.”

Originally appeared on September 6, 2014 in the Dallas News.

Chet Flake, LGBT volunteer who led Turtle Creek Chorale early on, dies at 87

Chet Flake, a leader of the Turtle Creek Chorale in its fledgling days and a volunteer recognized for his longtime service to the gay and lesbian community, died Wednesday at his home on Turtle Creek Boulevard.

Flake, 87, died of complications from lung cancer.

When Flake joined the governing board of the chorale in the 1980s, the all-male chorus was not the high-profile Dallas institution it would later become.

“They came to concerts wearing jeans or khakis or faded polo shirts, or whatever they had been wearing earlier that day,” he said in an interview shortly before his death.

When at a concert at Southern Methodist University in the early 1980s, the group for the first time mounted the risers wearing their signature tuxedos, “I felt that this was finally their time.”

He served on the chorale board for 12 seasons, including three as chairman.

Flake and his husband, Bud Knight, were well-known figures in the Dallas LGBT community, particularly for their work volunteering with AIDS-related service organizations. In 2011, Flake and Knight, who had died the previous year, were awarded the Black Tie Dinner’s Kuchling Humanitarian Award.

Cece Cox, CEO of the Resource Center, which offers a variety of services — including AIDS counseling — to the LGBT community, said that Flake was a good-humored and calming presence at the center’s facilities, where he often worked the front desk. There he greeted people who felt frightened and stigmatized by the thought of HIV infection.

“It’s important that people feel welcome and not judged when they come in our doors,” Cox said. “Chet was very skillful at that.”

Flake was born April 2, 1927, in Iola, Kan., but soon after moved with his family to Colorado Springs. He served on active duty for two years in the U.S. Army and in the reserves for another six.

He spent much of his career as an educator but also served as the proprietor of three Dallas restaurants — the best known being Chester’s in North Dallas.

Flake met Knight in 1965, and they became life partners for the next 45 years. They married in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2005.

In addition to his civic work, Knight was a prominent member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, where he served on the vestry, as senior warden and as trustee of the church endowment fund. He also served as an Episcopal lay chaplain at St. Paul Hospital.

Flake is survived by two sisters, Ivah Grace Biddle of La Habra, Calif., and Ella Belle Watts of Colorado Springs; and eight nieces and nephews.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Aug. 16 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 6525 Inwood Road, Dallas. Donations may be made to the St. Thomas Episcopal Church Endowment Fund, the Turtle Creek Chorale or the Resource Center of Dallas.

Originally appeared on August 7, 2014 in the Dallas News.

Turtle Creek Chorale Artistic Director Resigns


DALLAS, May 13, 2014—Turtle Creek Chorale (TCC), Dallas’ premier male chorus, is sad to announce the resignation of Artistic Director Trey Jacobs, effective July 31 at the end of TCC’s 2013-14 season. Jacobs will be moving to Nashville, Tenn. to be closer to family and return to his passion for music education.

“I am so fortunate to have had the most amazing musical experiences over the past three years,” says Jacobs. “I have been a huge fan of the Turtle Creek Chorale since I first heard them sing in 1993 at a National ACDA Convention. Over the years, I purchased numerous recordings that I used as inspiration and as a model for my high school and collegiate men’s choruses. I feel so honored to have played a small part in the thirty-four year rich history of this incredible chorus.”

TCC board chair David Hess says, “While we are sad to lose Trey, we know his talents as an educator are extensive, and the high school students of Nashville are so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him. We wish Trey the best as he returns to education and are so thankful for all that he has taught us.”

Jacobs has contributed much time and talent to the TCC during his tenure as artistic director. He has experienced many achievements over the past three years, such as the commission of 20 new compositions and arrangements, the creation of three small ensembles within the TCC, a first-time collaboration with the Uptown Players for two shows, auditions and preparations of the chorus for the national tour of “Do You Hear the People Sing” and the creation of Turtle Academy, an educational program for the TCC membership.

“My partner, Thomas, and I have an abundance of lifetime friendships that we have established with singer members, board members, and patrons of the Chorale,” says Jacobs. “I shall forever be grateful for the love, encouragement, and support that I have felt over the past three years as Artistic Director. My life feels so very rich because of this experience.”

ABOUT Turtle Creek Chorale
Turtle Creek Chorale (TCC) is currently enjoying its 34th season as a landmark all-male chorus. With over 175 dues-paying volunteer singing and associate members, TCC presents a full concert series at the Meyerson Symphony Center and Dallas City Performance Hall. While our programs cover a wide range of musical styles, the Chorale’s core message combines laughter, tears, and inspiration so that each of us may celebrate the human spirit as well as points of unity. Using choral music as our instrument, TCC creates extraordinary musical experiences for all and enhances thecultural lives of our members and audiences through numerous community outreach concerts, free ticket programs, service events, and our annual Partners in Harmony concert. We remain committed to creating meaningful, synergistic collaborations with other local arts groups, promoting harmony in our community, and building bridges. Visit us online at www.turtlecreek.org.

Press Release – Trey Jacobs Resignation