THEATER | DANCE | CLASSICAL MUSIC | OPERA | COMEDY

NORTH TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS NEWS

REVIEWS

The Turtle Creek Chorale presents 40 Years of Fa La La...
Music and Opera reporting on TheaterJones.com is made possible by The University of North Texas College of Music.
Select the link below to discover more.

Review: 40 Years of Fa La La | Turtle Creek Chorale | Moody Performance Hall


Halls Decked

The Turtle Creek Chorale's 40th annual holiday concert captured what is serious and fun about this time of year.



published Sunday, December 15, 2019

Photo: Michael McGary
The Turtle Creek Chorale presents 40 Years of Fa La La

 

Dallas — The Turtle Creek Chorale presented a beautifully curated and excellently performed holiday concert on Friday, the first of a three-day, four-concert, and sold-out run. In recent years, concerts by the organization have been much more serious about the music and much less silly about the schtick (which always has been integral to the organization). The use of an orchestral ensemble, in addition to Scott Ayres’ superb piano playing, is another factor that gives the concert a significant upgrade.

Another plus is that one, called 40 Years of Fa La La, really was a holiday concert — not just starting with “Jingle Bells” and then Jesus all the way. Of course, it will always be Christian-centric, as it should be, because that is the majority makeup of North Texas. But who doesn’t love to hear selections like Leroy Anderson’s joyous gallop, “Sleigh Ride”? or a devastatingly moving set piece about anti-Semitism and “Betelehemu,” a Nigerian Christmas song that endowed the proceedings a welcome universal appeal.

The program opened with dueling violinists, giving “We Three Kings” a Celtic-cum-Roma rosin rough-house approach that immediately made the audience sit up and pay attention. By contrast, the second half started quietly with an intoned delivery of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Quiet.” A nice touch.

There is a guest soloist, the Dublin-born singer-songwriter and actress Chloe Agnew of Celtic Women fame. Their 14 albums have sold more than eight million copies worldwide. Perhaps she was suffering from the cold that is endemic in Dallas or reacting to all of the allergens that afflict our area, but her voice sounded a little rough and she was careful not to push it too far for fear of it breaking. That said, she delivered an impressive performance, using both her low and soprano voice. She was also a little hard to hear.

The dynamite soprano of the evening was countertenor Rashaad Calaham who dazzled with flights of coloratura cadenzi and popped out a high Q at the end. Local favorite Denise Lee made a couple of appearances that showed her range —from a grumpy Mrs. Claus to Fred Small’s “Not in our Town,” a song about refusing to tolerate anti-Semitism or bigotry of any kind. It stunned the audience.

The ragtag dance troupe, Soundbytes, gave us a couple of different performances as both top-hat-and-tails-hoofers and two-steppn’ elves. On the camp side, a purposely clumsy brass band made up of the unlikely combination of tubas and baritone horns played a dyspeptic version of “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” with a hysterically funny troupe of plus-size male ballet dancers in ridiculous tutus. The body positivity was fabulous! Kudos to choreographer Rickey Phoummany.

Other musical treats abounded. A funny parade of monks “sang” Handel’s Halleluiah Chorus, while keeping their vow of silence by the use of a clever card trick. On a serious note, the concert ended traditionally with a singing of “Silent Night” followed by an American Sign Language version that never fails to make me grateful for the ability to hear. It was directed by the always-eloquent ASL signer Don Jones. Another surprise happened at the end of part one, in the performance of the aforementioned Nigerian song, “Betelehemu,” ably accompanied by a percussion battery of bongos. As the ending drew nigh, a Drum Line from Timberline High School marched in and raised both the decibels and delight from the infectious cross rhythms of this energetic piece.

It wasn’t only the music that was more polished than in some years past, the actual production was as tightly produced and seamlessly presented as any touring Broadway show. Scenic designers Michelle Harvey, Joshua Hargrave and Brent Rosinski delivered a gorgeous stage setting for the tuxedoed men with a huge Christmas tree made out of a stack of poinsettias that honors TCC members that have passed away, and in a somber moment, 13 new ones were added this year. But it was the lighting design by Scott Guenther that brought the entire production to life. It is highlighted by a rear projection scrim in the background that offered striking effects from a dramatic Bethlehem star to a light and quite realistic light dusting of snow. One of the Christmas miracles was how sound engineer Brian Gornick made a small group of strings, brass, a doubling wind player, drums and piano sound like a full orchestra. Thanks For Reading





View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
Halls Decked
The Turtle Creek Chorale's 40th annual holiday concert captured what is serious and fun about this time of year.
by Gregory Sullivan Isaacs

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
reviews
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
audiocasts
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
contests
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
crowdfunding
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
studio
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web



Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:


Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:


TheaterJones Section:


Category:
Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Search
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  



Your Name:
Your Email Adress:


please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :
Submit