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.

Meet the Cast: Larry Carter


By Todd Camp

Larry Carter

Details: Born in Big Spring, Texas, this 71-year-old is currently retired. His entire working career was spent in radio and television, including 26 years at NBC in Burbank, Calif. During that time, he built sets for The Tonight Show, Days of Our Lives, “and about a million Bob Hope Christmas Specials and game shows,” Carter says.

Chops: Starting in a boy’s choir in the sixth grade, he appeared in several musicals in college while pursuing a degree in theater and speech at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas.

Most memorable performance: Carter says he’ll never forget his debut with Turtle Creek Chorale in 2009. The concert was called If Music Be the Food of Love and it particularly hit home after his 20-year-old grandson was killed by a drunk driver the month before the opening.

“Music, for me … was indeed the ‘Food of Love.’ My Turtle brothers wrapped their arms around me and have never let me go. I am forever indebted to them for keeping me sane and grounded during the darkest time of my life.”

Favorite song performed: It’s a song that, unfortunately, is sung too many times at funerals of Chorale members, “… and a song that will also be sung at mine: ‘Majesty and Glory of Your Name.’I still cannot make it through without tears,” he says. “Mostly tears of joy at the sound and the total commitment from us all. It’s one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard.”

What draws him to Turtle Creek Chorale: After sitting in the audience for three years, Carter finally decided he had to sing. “Celebrating my membership in Turtle Creek Chorale and celebrating the life of my grandson, Josh. That’s my commitment … and what keeps me coming back day after day, week after week, year after year.”

Fun Fact Most Don’t Know About You: During his tenure at NBC, Carter made several appearances on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno playing former FBI head J. Edgar Hoover … in drag! He also appeared as the Queen Mother of Eng

The Time of Your Life


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.

Meet the Cast: Sean Orr


By Todd Camp

Sean Orr

Personal Details: This 32-year-old Santa Clara, Calif. native grew up in Rock Springs, Wy., before relocating to Texas in 2000. By day, he works as an assistant vice president at Bank of America.

Chops: His past musical experience consisted of belting Mariah Carey tunes in the shower, but Orr says that five years with the group has left a lasting impression. “The level of experience and the musical excellence that Turtle Creek Chorale is known for has definitely impacted the way in which I hear and express music today,” he says.

Most memorable performance: Touring Spain with a Turtle Creek Chorale concert series in 2010, Orr has many fond memories of his experiences there. But the moment that stuck with him came when the group was on a guided tour of the architecturally stunning Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.

“While in the middle of the massive cathedral, the chorale performed a very impromptu performance of ‘Ave Maria,’” Orr recalls. “It was magical; the music filled the room and the other tour groups stopped. Workers laid down their hammers and all got to enjoy the emotional, memorable experience. To me, in essence, that’s what music is all about!”

Favorite song performed: Orr says his favorite Turtle Creek Chorale tradition comes during their traditional Christmas concert performances. “Each year, we conclude the show with a rendition of ‘Peace Peace’ and ‘Silent Night.’ Both members and Turtle Creek Chorale patrons are transported to a place of reflection and joy, and at this moment, I feel the Christmas spirit has officially arrived.”

What draws you to Turtle Creek Chorale: “I see it as a fraternity of brothers, and some of my best friends were born from the chorale,” Orr says. “Turtle Creek Chorale is a source of fun, escape, joy, love, and community to me.”

Fun Fact: He’s an adventure seeker, whether it’s skiing in Snowmass, Colo., whitewater rafting down the Snake River in Wyoming, or taking flying trapeze lessons in Dallas. “If it gets my heart racing, I’m in!” he says.

She’s alive, ALIVE!


By Todd Camp

Channeling some of the biggest ladies in pop music is not for the faint of heart, so it’s a good thing most of the fellas in Turtle Creek Chorale are no strangers to divas. The group’s season closer, Divas Gone . . . But Not Forgotten, serves up some of showbiz’s most scintillating songstresses, from Judy Garland to Whitney Houston. But bringing these larger-than-life broads to the Dallas City Performance Hall stage is a lot harder than it looks.

As with most Turtle Creek Chorale performances, the show first came together about two and a half months ago when, in a rare departure from standard practice in which the Artistic Director hand-picks each tune, the members themselves had a voice in the selections.

“We asked members to fill out cards and solicited input from the entire membership for this concert,” says Associate Conductor Sean Baugh.

Perhaps that’s why you’ll see often-unsung divas like Karen Carpenter or Amy Winehouse in the mix, alongside some of the more traditional female phenoms.

The show will feature more than 20 favorites such as Whitney Houston’s iconic “I Will Always Love You,” Etta James’ “At Last,” and Judy Garland’s “The Trolley Song.”

And it wouldn’t be a season finale without a little choreography amongst the vocal runs. That not only means some dance heavy lifting from the seasoned hoofers of Sound Bytes but also very deft footwork from the full chorus.

“When you have a room full of guys who range in age from 25 to 85, it’s kind of funny to watch that take shape,” says Baugh.

We’re certain Turtle Creek Chorale will “step up” to the occasion.