Turtle Creek Chorale: Stronger than Ever

Published July 1, 2021 at 11:56am.
Story by Julia Baca. Photos courtesy of Turtle Creek Chorale.

Turtle Creek Chorale (TCC) has been committed to bringing artistic excellence and moving music to the community since its inception in 1980. The original 30-man chorus has since grown to more than 250 dues-paying members who contribute more than 100,000 hours annually to rehearsals, performances, and community outreach. Executive Director, Jeremy Wayne and Artistic Director, Sean Baugh, are both committed to continuing TCC’s mission of entertaining, educating, uniting, and inspiring audiences. 

Jeremy’s involvement in music started with singing in the choir and playing piano at school and church. After successfully auditioning, Jeremy sang with the group and joined as the operations director. He shares, “music was a passion, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it work early on.”  With experience in business Jeremy’s role allows him to merge these two interests while helping TCC thrive. Jeremy emphasizes, “I love attending rehearsals and soaking it all up.Watching the audience react and experiencing how touched they are is so rewarding.” 

Sean describes Jeremy as a “rare breed” being an incredibly talented vocalist and pianist while also understanding how to effectively manage an organization. Like Jeremy, Sean had a background in music. After being away from music for a time, he found TCC as a way to get back into it. Sean first joined TCC 13 years ago as a singing member and now serves as the artistic director. Having a passion for programming, Sean shares, “there’s nothing like seeing something you’ve dreamed of come to life onstage.” The chorus performs a range of music including traditional holiday music, Broadway favorites, and contemporary works.

TCC has made impacts on audiences all over the world. With dozens of recorded albums, appearances at Carnegie Hall, international tours, and collaborations with luminaries like like Dr. Maya Angelou, Liza Minnelli, and Joan Rivers, TCC has extensive engagement and impact. Sean emphasizes, “Every concert carries an emotional package and weight. There’s not a single concert that hasn’t left us feeling accomplished.” One of Sean’s favorite TCC stories was when the chorus traveled to Spain for a summer concert. Due to extreme heat, people stayed home and the concert only saw two audience members. Like normal, the men sang their hearts out and the little old lady in attendance gave them a standing ovation. Sean says, “reaching that one old lady was really moving. To have impacted even just one person meant the world.”

The Turtle Creek Chorale back to in-person rehearsals in April 2021.

The Turtle Creek Chorale back to in-person rehearsals in April 2021.

Like many performing arts organizations, the pandemic hit TCC hard. 2020 was slated with milestone performances and events in celebration of their 40th anniversary. Unfortunately all of it was cancelled. Sean shares, “it was a devastating experience, especially for many members who were retiring.” Jeremy speaks about how, in many ways, TCC was lucky. “Right before the pandemic hit, we just finished a successful fundraising gala, which helped us survive the pandemic without lay-offs or staffing cuts.” TCC pivoted its programming and was able to offer virtual concerts and utilize outdoor venues to support health and safety guidelines and focus on staying relevant during the pandemic. 

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, it was also a gift of time where we could take a closer look at our mission and what we give to the community,” Sean says. “We, as a chorus and organization as a whole came out even stronger.”The pandemic, a learning experience for everyone, helped TCC learn the power of social media and the value of recording everything.

Fittingly, TCC’s 41st season is themed “Stronger” and offers both virtual and in-person experiences. Sean shares that this season is all about coming back together even stronger than before. “The arts played a vital role in surviving the pandemic,” Sean says. “And now the arts are how we all heal.” The season launched in April with a virtual performance, “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane!” with music about all the places we didn’t get to go due to the pandemic. 

Recently, in June, the full chorus performed its “Holidays Interrupted” show at Fair Park, bringing the community together for its beloved holiday concert, which was interrupted due to the pandemic. “Songs of Strength and Survival” is a small ensemble concert in August meant to inspire healing. In October, “Broadway’s Back!” brings pure joy with exciting and popular showtunes. Finally, the season wraps up “Sure Stars Shining,” TCC’s holiday themed concert in December that brings peace, laughter, and love. Jeremy and Sean are excited to bring everyone back. “We want people to feel comfortable and we’re ready to engage and welcome everyone back,” Jeremy says. 

The Turtle Creek Chorale during their holiday performance in 2019.

The Turtle Creek Chorale during their holiday performance in 2019.

The Turtle Creek Chorale during their holiday performance in 2019.

The Turtle Creek Chorale during their holiday performance in 2019.

If you’d like to support Turtle Creek Chorale by making a donation or attending a concert, visit turtlecreekchorale.com

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