For 30 years, the hundreds of members of the Turtle Creek Chorale have sung for the love of singing. Its an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization. Its 200 or so singers, all men, pay dues to be part of the group whose mission is to entertain, educate, unite and uplift our audiences and members through music that is distinguished for its innovation, diversity and artistic excellence. Besides concerts, they donate a combined 100,000 hours to rehearsals and service projects and to performing more than 50 benefit shows each year. They are Dallas largest and loudest glee club, part of a long tradition of all-male singing clubs that harkens back to the 1700s, when men in Europes German-speaking countries gathered in small groups to sing short songs called glees and catches. The popularity of glee clubs spread to England and then to the Ivy League colleges in the United States in the 1800s. Thanks to the TV series Glee, interest in group and choral singing has had a sudden resurgence, which has boosted interest in and the audience for big choirs like the Turtle Creek Chorale.

This year the chorale will perform its 31st season of formal concerts at the Meyerson Symphony Center, beginning with A Night for Peace at 8 p.m. October 18. That event is part of the Chorales Partners in Harmony program started seven years ago to reach out to churches. There are now 44 religious institutions affiliated with the chorale. (The latest to join is Congregation Shearith Israel.) The first joint concert of the season will feature the Turtle Creek Chorale, the SMU Meadows Chorale, Dallas Wind Symphony, Lay Family Organ and more than 300 singers in a mass choir performing peace anthems by Bach, Mendelssohn and Moses Hogan.

Big shows are nothing new for the chorale, which performs a series of standing-room-only Christmas concerts at the Meyerson every year. They have played sold-out concerts in Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin and Prague, and made two appearances at Carnegie Hall. Other milestones in the chorales recent history are the Texas premier of Night Passage, a one-act opera based on the arrest of Oscar Wilde; and the premiere of the TCC-commissioned work, Our Better Angels, composed by Andrea Clearfield with text by Robert Espindola.

The chorale also achieved another first recently with its co-performance with the United States Army Chorus. This event was the first time a gay-centric chorus has appeared with a U.S. military music ensemble. The chorale has recorded 36 CDs and several DVDs. There are concert videos on YouTube and they have been the subject of a couple of documentary films, including the poignant KERA-produced film After Goodbye: An AIDS Story, chronicling the impact of HIV-AIDS on the friends, families and members of the chorale. To date, the group has lost more than 200 members to HIV-AIDS since the 1980s.

Though the chorale is styled as a gay-friendly organization, conductor and artistic director Dr. Jonathan Palant prefers not to refer to it as a gay mens chorus. Being gay is not a requirement for membership and there are straight men in the group, Palant says. The group operates with no political agenda, though of course we have beliefs for equality and basic civil and human rights, says the conductor.

However Palant defines it, the all-male chorale membership is full of couples, many of whom met at rehearsals, and there are not a few ex-partners who met in the chorale, broke up and still sing on the same stage together.

Whats so special about the chorale is that its so much more than a chorusits a family, says Palant, who has a doctorate in choral conducting from the University of Michigan. It has become a sanctuary for many members who have been ostracized from their families, or who live far away from them. We are like brothers. It is, in many ways, a fraternity.

Among the singers currently in the chorale, only a few have been there since the beginning. Palant says theres about a 50 percent turnover in membership every three or four years, a natural progression given the transient nature of todays job market. The group did hold a reunion in its 25th year, gathering all the past conductors and as many chorus members as they could round up.

If theres a challenge for the future of the chorale, it is finding new ways to outdo ourselves, Palant says. In Dallas, its a constant struggle to top our last performance. Financially, however, theyre in good shape, finishing last season with a six-figure surplus on a $1 million annual budget. One way theyre saving money is by using social mediaTwitter and Facebookto do free marketing. Palant estimates more than 70 percent of current ticket sales are spurred by e-mail blasts, Facebook and Twitter posts, and online mentions by sites such as Dallas-based Gay List Daily. Going into the new season, Palant frets a little about increasing competition for the arts dollar in the Dallas Arts District. Competition for those disposable consumer dollars is greater now than ever, he says, but we have an ever-growing arts culture in this city, so its a wonderful problem to have.

Andrews W. Cope
Veritas Wine Room
Veritas Wine Room

Think back to the geeks in the camera club, hanging around the darkroom after school and arguing about their F-stops. So what if they weren't the ones carried off the football field in a giddy swarm of cheerleaders? Ten years later, we all know who the real cool kids turned out to be. And since Photopol.us came around, they even have a camera club of their own. Hosting shows in photo galleries around town, they're among the usual suspects you can expect to find with a booth at just about any über-hip Oak Cliff street festival, but the biggest network's online, with a mutual appreciation society built around a blog and a Flickr network for any and all shutter-lovers to trade photo tips like they used to do back in the darkroom.

Listen, Queen of the Lake: Don't think for one second that you've slipped one past all of us. We watched your video for "Window Seat," which came out right before the release of your latest opus, New Amerykah, Part II: Return of the Ankh, and we totally got the message you were putting out there in your low-budget clip about "groupthink" and the dangers that can come with being a member of the pack, rather than a lone wolf. We understood it. But we also saw you taking your clothes off in the clip until you were butt-ass nekkid, lying "dead" on the X that marks the spot where JFK got shot in Dealey Plaza. Sure, we took it at face value as an homage to Matt & Kim's earlier nude-in-Times-Square music video and a chance to pass along a message. But, more important, we knew that it was also a potentially incendiary offering—one the conservative political types in this town would too willingly jump all over. And boy did they: On the basis of a single complaint received by the cops (one that, for the record, came after the video's release, and not after its filming), you got smacked with a $500 fine for disorderly conduct. A shame, for sure. But, more than that, a small price to pay. No PR firm in the country could have given you that kind of national hype heading into your album release—and, if they could, they would've charged you at least 100 times that much. You turned a crappy situation around and made it work for you. For that—and, really, for a whole bounty of other reasons—we hope you know this much: In Dallas, Ms. Badu, you bow to no one.

Best Bit of Lawyering

When Judge Tena Callahan went full bore and ruled the state constitutional ban on same sex marriage violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, lawyers for one of the gay men, known in court documents only as J.B., told the judge not so fast. Sure, it was great she was ruling in their clients' favor but perhaps there was a way not to do it on such broad constitutional grounds with all its my-Constitution-is-more-supreme-than-your-Constitution snootiness. J.B's attorneys, Pete Schulte of Dallas and James Scheske of Austin, argued that granting a divorce to a same-sex couple in Texas is not against the Texas law that bans same-sex marriage. On the contrary, it promotes Texas law because it ends a same-sex marriage. See, granting a divorce would mean one less same-sex marriage in Texas, which Texas would say is a good thing. It's an argument J.B.'s attorney made to the 5th Court of Appeals. Too clever by half you say? Well, maybe, since the 5th Court ruled against granting the divorce, but stay tuned. This isn't over yet.

Unfailingly elegant, except when he's playing the odd redneck slob, Dallas theater actor Regan Adair is usually the best reason to see whatever play he's in. Over the past year he's been on a roll of great roles, starring as a 1950s TV comedy writer in WaterTower Theatre's Laughter on the 23rd Floor (by Neil Simon), as a suave businessman in love with a chubby chick and as a dunderhead factory worker hellbent on treating women like chattel in Dallas Theater Center's trilogy of Neil LaBute's Beauty Plays, and as a 1940s movie studio exec in Circle Theatre's premiere of Bruce Graham's Something Intangible. Adept at accents (he was hilarious as Bertie Wooster in several theaters' versions of the plays of P.G. Wodehouse), Adair is a fave among directors who appreciate his professionalism and his ability to dig deep into characters' psyches. "He goes to that place every time," says Kevin Moriarty, who directed him in LaBute's Fat Pig, "even in rehearsals."

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Brandon+Thibodeaux
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Dallas Theater Center returns to its old home at Kalita Humphreys Theater one more time this year for the last performances of its beloved version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Adapted by Richard Hellesen, with music by David de Berry, the show is a heart-melting, spectacularly staged run-up to the holidays. This year's production, directed by DTC company member Matthew Gray, will star Dallas actor Chamblee Ferguson as Scrooge (he's played Bob Cratchit before). Funny, scary, soul-stirring, this Christmas Carol has for many years been the most popular show in DTC's season. So to the cast of the farewell run of this old fave, "God bless you, every one!"

The collective known as the Dallas Family Band seemed to rise out of nowhere last summer, with at least one of its member acts—a formidable list that includes Jacob Metcalf, The Beaten Sea, The Fox and the Bird, Wheeler Sparks, Spooky Folk and Lalagray—popping up on nearly every folk-tinged bill in town. It's their guerilla supergroup performances as the Dallas Family Band that generate the most attention—you can find them busking at the occasional street festival or outdoor concert—but it's the group's irrepressible spirit and fervent commitment to songcraft (See the Beaten Sea's excellent debut album for further evidence) that really make them worth listening to. Sure, at times the Family Band sounds a little like a church camp sing-along that's about to bust into a spirited rendition of "Kumbaya" or "One Tin Soldier," but in our culture, a bit of positivism is a breath of fresh air.

The Hardline, The Ticket 1310
Danielle Pickard

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