Standing ovations were easy to come by at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center last night as Dr. Timothy Seelig conducted and performed his last concert as the artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale. (How many people get a standing O simply by walking out on stage?) Despite a stirring solo entrance, he remained silent for a big chunk of the first part of the show, which made for some dramatic tension. The man knows how to work a room.
His partner, Shawn Northcutt, spoke the first words of the night by surprising Seelig with a video retrospective of his tenure. His voice cracking, Northcutt gave the audience one of the more touching moments of the evening: “After watching 20 years of video of Tim and the passion and the people that he touched," he said, "I was able to fall in love with him all over again.”
After that came a montage of familiar faces celebrating Seelig, among them chef Stephan Pyles, former city council member and mayoral candidate Ed Oakley, former State Represenative Harryette Ehrhardt and a slew of friends and chorale members. At last, Seelig broke his silence, uttering a restrained, "Oh my goodness."
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He maintained his humor throughout the show, but became obviously emotional. With tissue in hand, he leaned into Northcutt as their seats were placed on stage and members of the chorale began saying their good-byes.
Seelig, a man not short on ego, was a class act as he passed the torch to new director Jonathan Palant. “I wish for him the richness of my journey,” Seelig said, before offering his own memories of his time spent with the chorale. He also offered the spotlight to departing principal accompanist, Antoine Spencer, who later said, “It was a fabulous wonderful experience. I was very thankful to be a part of it.” He had been with the Chorale since 1991.
The weekend on a whole was big for the Chorale and Seelig.There was a roast at the Lakewood Theater Saturday night, followed by a brunch yesterday morning. They managed to get in a CD recording, then followed the concert with an after-party at Ciudad. Amidst a mob of friends and fans, Seelig did mention, “Tonight was the perfect finale to 20 years and difficult to wrap up. It had everything that I loved -- lots of laughter lots of tears and a great feeling of unity. I’m really looking forward to the future.”
And it's a future that looks plenty busy. His newest book, The Perfect Rehearsal, came out this year, and he was just named Director of Art for Peace and Justice, a new program begun by the faith-based social justice organization Hope for Peace & Justice. And he's still an adjunct professor at SMU. Though right now, he might be taking a nap. --Rich Lopez