Q&A: Turtle Creek Chorale's Jonathan Palant

Categories: Interviews
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You'd be grinning, too, if you were were a doctor of music and artistic director of a chorale at 33. Maybe you're slacking. We are. (Shawn Northcutt)
New kid on the block Jonathan Palant is making his debut this Sunday, Oct. 7, as the artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale with the group's first concert of the season, Generation 2 Generation, and he says he’s pretty nervous about it. He came on board officially Aug. 1 after a nine-month search to replace outgoing director Tim Seelig who held the post for 20 years. That’s a long time for a lot of people to get used to something, so, yeah, the nerves are probably well-founded.

But we think he’s going to be just fine. He charmed everyone -- most notably local arts organizations -- at A Celebration of the Arts, his social debut if you will, thrown by the Chorale back in August, and we predict he’ll do just as well with the audience on Sunday.

Palant is also going to have a little back up. Executive Director Craig Popkess just told me the Dallas Opera, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Black Dance Theater, UNT Mariachi, Mariachi Grand Prairie are all on board to perform alongside the Chorale. But one person just might steal the show; that could be 13-year-old local piano phenom Roderick Demmings. This young man is already the music director at Mount Horeb Missionary Baptist Church and has played Carnegie Hall. Given Palant’s applause for Demming’s performance at last month’s Celebration, he might just be OK with that too.

More importantly, we’re glad to see Palant has a sense of humor and was up for a few sprightly questions with DC-9 at Night:

Was the concert specifically scheduled on this date knowing the undefeated Cowboys would be playing Monday night instead of Sunday?

Palant: While I did know this would be the case for the Cowboys, I wasn’t expecting both UT and OU to be 4-1 as they meet this Saturday. I expect both Texas teams to be victorious this week.

At 33, you are the director of a prestigious music company as well as a doctor of music. I'm feeling really bad about my less than accomplished self right now, any advice?

Palant: Eat lots of ice cream! Honestly, whenever life hits me in an unexpected way I head straight to Cold Stone Creamery. This always makes me feel better about myself.

What would affect your singers' voices more - fried cookie dough or a Fletcher's corny dog?

Palant: Our members are concerned with their waist sizes. Clearly we wouldn’t be eating either.

Speaking of, imagine this scenario: One of your bass singers comes Sunday morning with their voice lost because he was screaming while riding The Conquistador at the State Fair, how would that fly?

Palant: I’d let them lip sync the concert. It worked beautifully for Britney Spears and Ashlee Simpson!

If there was going to be a rumble between the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Turtle Creek Chorale over booking the Meyerson during the holiday season, who would win?

Palant: As we are more than twice the size of the DSO, with 220 members, I am pretty sure we could take them!

Will you add me as your MySpace friend?

Palant: I haven’t ventured into the MySpace realm yet. I know I am behind the times, but I promise to do so once I create my MySpace account.

You've been getting a good amount of coverage, obviously from the Dallas Voice when you were selected as the director and so forth to being the cover boy on The Quick and now this interview for the blog. But really, which paper do you like best?

Palant: Charmin. It’s the softest.

You seem quite morbid in your podcast mentioning singers falling off risers, jumping out of rolling cars, you yourself falling off the podium and even requesting more Xanax. Was a psychological evaluation not part of the new artistic director selection process?

Palant: I was absent from the process on that day. I was sightseeing!

OK, here's an easy one. For some irreverent insight to Dr. Palant, can you give us three non-classical cuds’ you're listening to right now and three movies you'd never recommend to anyone?

Palant: Non-classical CDs:

1. I enjoy the vocal complexity of rap artist, Sixty-Cent.
2. Justin Timbaland’s combination of dance moves get me rockin’!
3. I was also amazed at Fergie’s ability to transition from royalty to pop superstar.

Three Movies I’d never recommend:

1. Mr. Bush Goes to Washington
2. Hot Shots Part III: Cheney Goes Hunting
3. Footloose: The Senator Craig Story

The Turtle Creek Chorale performs its concert, Generation 2 Generation - A Celebration of Sound and the City, Sunday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m. -- Rich Lopez


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