On Saturday, July 9, 2022, the Turtle Creek Chorale, the most recorded male chorus in the world, took the stage at the iconic Carnegie Hall in New York, New York to perform Let Us March On! Including the world premiere of “Dreamland: Tulsa 1921”.
Over 200 members of the Chorale were joined on stage by 30 members of the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, in addition to narrarations by Tamara Tunie and solo performances by Arielle Collier, Quintin Coleman, Malcolm Payne Jr., Paul Mason, and Denise Lee. The performances of these songs inspired a standing ovation from the packed audience.
Created by TCC and developed by Black librettist and American playwright Sandra Seaton and Black composer Dr. Marques Garrett, the chorus will perform powerful yet challenging songs with vivid imagery and descriptions of the events. The piece is named after the Williams Dreamland Theater, one of the first buildings to be destroyed during the 1921 riot. The theater was owned by two Black entrepreneurs who played a key role in the development of Tulsa’s Greenwood “Black Wall Street,” a community of wealthy and thriving Black people.
Librettist Sandra Seaton was inspired by Events of the Tulsa Disaster, a book written by Mary E. Jones Parrish, a journalist who fled Greenwood with her daughter and gathered the firsthand accounts of others who saw and suffered from the violence. Seaton’s interpretation of events is brought to life by composer Garrett, who holds a Ph.D. in Music Education and whose compositions have been performed by high school all-state, collegiate, and professional choirs.
The Chorale is no stranger to addressing social issues, and this mission was only strengthened by the events of 2020 and since. The 18-month hiatus from rehearsing and performing during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed the opportunity to be truly reflective and introspective about the future of the organization. Hoping to exemplify its core pillars to entertain, educate, unite, and inspire, the Chorale was proud to honor the memory of those lost and demonstrate their ongoing commitment to racial equity.
Let Us March On! is one of several shows in the Chorale’s 42nd season appropriately titled FORWARD. The next performance of the season will be That 70’s Show - A Sing-Along Sensation at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium on October 8 and 9, 2022.
“It was an unparalleled honor to perform this powerful work on the iconic Carnegie Hall stage. The theme of our 42nd season is FORWARD, which I feel is the perfect representation of our goal with this work,” Executive Director Jeremy Wayne said. “You must consider the past to truly appreciate the hope for, and progress to come, in the future.”