Timothy Seelig takes over as the artistic director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on Jan. 1. He has been conductor emeritus of the Turtle Creek Chorale in Dallas for 20 years and also was founder of The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and Resounding Harmony. He has degrees from the University of North Texas and the the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. He has also produced books and DVDs, and in 2011 will release “The Language of Music” in both formats.
Who had the biggest influence on you in your life?
I would have to respond with a fairly predictable answer: my mom. First of all, she is one of the funniest people I have ever met. I got my sense of humor from her, which is one of the things for which I am most grateful in my entire life! She is also a singer-performer-teacher and instilled in me a deep love and understanding of the power of music in my life and the amazing affect it can and does have on the world. She taught me to cherish life and, at 88 years of age, continues to do that.
To whom/to what do you turn in tough times?
The answer to this would have to be a “what” rather than a “whom.” Life has not been a bed of roses. I struggled with my sexual orientation until I was 35. During that time, I was a minister in a large Southern Baptist church, married with two children. My coming-out was big! And it was also painful. From there, I entered the world of gay choral music, just as the AIDS pandemic was hitting all of us with full force. There have been many “tough times” throughout my life. I have found that the only thing one can really count on is the inner strength that each of us develops through that painful exercise of being knocked down and getting right back up.
Where do you find inspiration?
I am most inspired when I see someone change the way they feel or the way they are in response to music. Throughout my life, I have seen countless people who have been inspired and moved through glorious music and the message that sometimes can only be delivered through music. This has and continues to inspire me to keep trying to make that kind of music.
How do you feel about becoming the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus’ new artistic director and conductor?
The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is the grandfather to the entire GLBT choral movement. Its history has set the bar for all who have followed the example it has set. It has been my privilege to conduct and consult with over 40 GLBT choruses. SFGMC is the pinnacle of all of them. Being selected as their next artistic director is akin to hitting the lottery in the GLBT choral world.
What do you hope to bring to the position?
What I bring to the position is just me. I bring to it all of my life’s experiences — musical and personal. Musically, I will simply bring a different set of competencies and priorities — things that can simply be added to the amazing work the chorus has been doing for more than three decades. Personally, I’ll bring a lot of fun and a lot of heart, because that is the way I live my life.