Memories: Turtles Take a Look Back


By Todd Camp

On Feb. 7, 2015, the Turtle Creek Chorale will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a special concert at the Dallas City Performance Hall. Looking back on more than three decades of making beautiful music for North Texas audiences, as well as fans around the world, we decided to chat with a veteran Turtle to find out what performances stood out for them.

For Jamie Rawson, who just completed his 20th season with the group, two particularly memorable moments came during the group’s 1995 European tour.

“We performed for a sell-out audience at Berlin’s Hochschule der Künste (University of the Arts),” Rawson recalls. “We were surprised to receive a standing ovation since we were told that the German audience was likely to be a bit reserved.”

But that was just the beginning, Rawson says, with audiences enthusiastically chanting and foot-stamping for three more encores.

Later that week in Prague, the Chorale performed at the historic Rudolfinum as a benefit for the Czech Republic’s recently established nascent Gay Rights organization, Rawson says. It was described as the largest openly gay event in the country’s history. The night had many moving moments but one of the biggest came during the final number, We Shall Overcome.

“The entire audience took part, singing the chorus in Czech while joining hands throughout the hall and onto the stage,” Rawson says. “It was a deeply touching moment, quite different from the wild enthusiasm in Berlin, but perhaps more memorable for the deeply felt gratitude that those in attendance expressed to us.”

Rawson recalls many milestones over the years, including performing for Queen Elizabeth II when she visited Dallas in the spring of 1991, saying, “It was tangible proof that the Turtle Creek Chorale was both a recognized performing arts organization and a clear sign that the city of Dallas was changing with the times.”

But Rawson says that the performances that have most connected with audiences are the ones sung with purpose and mission.

“A mission of communicating the incommunicable; the joys and the grief, the excitement and the sorrow, and our optimism and pride,” he says. “When we ourselves connect with these emotions through our music, our audience is touched and connected as well.”