Monday, January 27, 2020



Looking Back on the Jan 21st, 2020 Chapter Meeting
This was the first week into the new Harmonizer rehearsal variation plan – this week was labeled “Electives.”
After a brief warm up conducted by associate director Tony Colosimo, director Joe Cerutti welcomed Johan Westberg and Adam Afifi back on the risers. 
Joe thanked the large crowd of members who came to this new kind of meeting nite and  reminded the chorus of the Feb. 7th show with the Whiffenpoofs and listed the five songs from the fall show that will be used.  He also stressed that under the new work of preparation, the annotated sheet music is the final word in any differences with recordings. He stressed the annotated music as an important key in each man’s self work on the music.
Then he sent the chorus off for 45-minute sectionals in four spots around Scottish Rite Temple to be conducted by the section leaders (Ammermann, Livergood, Lee and Mextorf) who were prepared to work on a lesson plan created by the musical leadership (so that all singers worked on the same items for the new contest uptune).
The business session came next with communications director Steve Murane as moderator. He reviewed some of the upcoming calendar items – Feb. 8th an ensemble will sing at a Holy Cross Community Concert.  Terry Reynolds has contacted those to sing that gig.
Feb. 11th is another fun tradition – a Put Together Quartet Contest.  Quartets can sign up with Matt Doniger or a member can even ask Matt to find three other parts and “put together” a quartet.  Foursomes will sing one song, be judged and winners chosen for “regular” quartet or comedy quartet categories. Matt has published rules recently too.
The Singing Valentine project is underway also.  Quartet singers are needed for appearances during the Feb. 15th weekend. Calvin Schnure is forming those quartets. See him if you wish to help make appearances around the DC Metro area that the chapter selects. New guys are welcome to join in the fun. Only requirement is to have a uniform and to know “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “Heart of My Heart.”  Help is also needed to make calls to set up appearances – contact Steve Murane to help with that.
Next item was a plea for members to invite holiday show patrons to respond to the show survey Here's the survey link you can forward to them:  https://celebratetheseason.questionpro.com
Ken Ives was recognized as new coordinator/promoter for scrip sales and participation.
Operations director Gary Cregan reported on the new Harmo truck.  It is a 2015 Ford E350 and is a foot longer than our old one (the 1993 Ford E350 is for sale at this point too). Gary and Dennis Ritchey will prepare the new box truck for loading plans. The new truck will have a wrapped logo or something on it ASAP.  Gary also invited men to step up and join the crew of truck drivers.  [There was a lot of fun chatter at this point from drivers who have been at the wheel of our old truck – does the AC work, do the windows go up and down, how bout the radio. And does the new one have decent tires?]
The 46th annual Presidents’ Banquet will be Sat. eve, Feb. 1st at the Lee Center, 1108 Jefferson St, Alexandria VA. Cocktail hour begins at 6:15, dinner served at 7, and the program will begin at 8, including installation of our 2020 BHS Chapter Officers, followed by the presentation of the Chapter's 2019 Chapter Distinguished Service awards.  

Tickets are $30 per person. Dave Branstetter will be selling tickets before and after rehearsals and during break. You could email him and tell him you want to get tickets too.

Dinner will be catered by Maggianos, a popular Italian restaurant in the area!  Plus, in honor of our 2019 trip to Scotland, we are bringing back a "tasting table" of scotches and some selected bourbons!  There is plenty of free parking.  Dress code is dressy casual.

Music team admin guy, Terry Reynolds, continued to advance the individual interviews the music team is conducting with each member. 
President Stan Quick prompted guys to attend the Presidents’ Banquet and to help with the Singing Valentine effort.
Chapter secretary Chris Buechler presented membership renewal cards to Adam Shepard for 3 years; Jeff Burkey for 5 years; Dixie Kennett for 7 years; Matt Doniger for 8 years; Reed Livergood for 9 years; Clyde Crusenberry for 10 years; Frank Shipp for 18 years; Brian Ammermann for 26 years; Chuck Powell for 26 years; Drew Fuller for 30 years (plus he got a lapel pin too); and Mark Klostermeyer for 39 years.  Tony Colosimo earned a Man of Note pin for bringing Devin Gerzof to the chapter.
Membership director Jacob Broude welcomed a lead singer guest, David Mayer. He came with Callan Harding and Alex Crounk.
After a brief break time, the rest of the nite was divided into various half hour slots: there was repertoire review with Joe, Polecat singing with Alex Crounk and Calvin Schnure, Performance and Visual Skills (facial expression and body language) with Cindy Hansen Ellis remote from her home in Colorado, Technology and Apps guys can use with Tony Colosimo, and “office hours” with a section leader.  Some of these topics/sessions were held twice and guys could attend them twice if they wished.  It worked great.  Joe thanked Mike Kelly for his help with all the audio visual help for the nite.
The chorus members all reconvened with the repertoire review group to sing a song to close out the nite.  After the “It’s Great to Be a Harmonizer” cheer, there were lots of guys hanging around singing the new uptune or trying their hand with prospect for quartets for the chapter contest. Joe invited members to offer opinions or ideas for future expansion of an “electives” nite to Tony or Jason.
Until next time – editorjack! 

(This message is prepared for your review if you were there, for your information if you had to miss, and as a historical record of the great things going on each week during the 71st year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Thursday, January 23, 2020



Looking Back on Harmonizers at the 2020 Midwinter Convention
Midwinter 2020 was held in Downtown Jacksonville at the Hyatt Regency on the St. Johns River.  The performance venue was the historic Florida Theater, dating from the 1920s located just a couple of blocks from the hotel.  The weather was fabulous with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s and 80s during the convention.  The Harmonizers were well represented with members singing in two seniors quartets and two seniors choruses.  There were shows on both Thursday and Saturday evenings featuring the top five BHS quartets, SAI Rising Star quartet DULY NOTED, Harmony Inc.’s 2018 queens AGED TO PERFECTION, and 2019 Youth Quartet champions WILDFIRE, and capping off the Saturday show were the Four Freshmen.

Terry Reynolds was in Jacksonville early to work with the Leadership Forum, which was held before the Midwinter convention.  Early arrivers also included John Santora (BHS
Treasurer) and Chris Buechler (SCJC meetings and on judging panel).  BHS staff member Joe Cerutti was busy all week and served as presenter for the Junior Varsity quartet contest on Thursday.  Bob Eckman attended the District Presidents meetings.  Rick Taylor was working with Harmony Foundation (HFI) staff.  Ross Johnson and his wife Susan Williams were sponsors for the NextGen Youth Chorus contest and presented awards.

Competing were John Adams (Carolinas District Seniors Chorus and also sang with AISCQ chorus), Keith Jones and Bob Thames (Sunshine District Seniors Chorus), Mike Kelly (PERSUASION seniors quartet placing 8th), and Rick Savage, Mike Edison, Will Cox, and Steve Murane (SILVER ALERT seniors quartet placing 20th).  Cy Wood directed a youth chorus from Ohio.

Other Harmonizers in attendance included Bill Colosimo, Sam McFarland, Tom Gannon, Eddie Allen, and Bede Bender.

Members of the Harmonizer family (former members and others) included Paul Wietlisbach (Dixie District President and sang in a seniors quartet and chorus), Sean Devine (working with HFI), Gary Plaag (HFI board ), Steve Tramack (SCJC meeting and judging panel), Jay Butterfield (judging panel), John Rettenmeyer (Evergeeen District President), Alan Lamson, Bob Hirsh, and Drew Ellis.  Sheryl Berlin (Youth Festival Coordinator) and Dixie Kennett also attended.  (Thanks to Dixie for preparing this report for YeEd.)

Mark your calendar and plan to attend the 2021 Midwinter in New York City!

Until next time – editorjack! 

(This message is prepared for your review if you were there, for your information if you had to miss, and as a historical record of the great things going on each week during the 70th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Looking Back on the Jan 14th, 2020 Chapter Meeting



Looking Back on the Jan 14th, 2020 Chapter Meeting
This was our first meeting of 2020.  Guys were ready to get back to chorus. 
Associate director Tony Colosimo did a warm up session and then director Joe Cerutti got the rehearsal started.
His opening remarks included congrats to our chapter quartets – SILVER ALERT and PERSUASION -  that competed in the senior quartet contest at the Mid-Winter convention in Jacksonville, FL, recently.  (Stay tuned for a Looking Back report from that event.)
Joe reports that our coach and arranger friend, Steve Tramack, is home and resting after an allergy scare in Jacksonville.
And then to get the music started, Joe did a quick run of the five songs the chorus will sing when we host the Whiffenpoofs on Feb. 7th.
The announcement period started with Mike Kelly recognizing Dave Welter as the newest Harmonizer to be elected to the district Honor Club.
Our next big event is the 46th Annual Alexandria Harmonizers Presidents' Banquet,  Saturday, February 1st, 6:15 -10pm at the Lee Center, 1108 Jefferson St, Alexandria VA (Note - this is where we held the 2019 President's Banquet).  

Cocktail hour begins at 6:15, dinner served at 7, and the program will begin at 8, including installation of our 2020 BHS Chapter Officers, followed by the presentation of the Chapter's 2019 Chapter Distinguished Service awards.  

Tickets are $30 per person. Dave Branstetter will be selling tickets before and after rehearsals and during break.

Dinner will be catered by Maggianos - so think Italian!  Dinner will include salad, desert, soft drinks, water, coffee and tea, beer and wine.   Plus, in honor of our 2019 trip to Scotland, we are bringing back a "tasting table" of scotches and some selected bourbons!  There is plenty of free parking.  Dress code is dressy casual.

We will also enjoy a couple songs from our Harmonizer quartet, SILVER ALERT and conclude the evening with dancing to the music of Riptide, the classic rock cover band that includes Harmonizers: Chris Huber, Joel Golden, Kellen Hertz, and Joe Cerutti, Sr. 

Another event coming up soon – Singing Valentines –when the chapter sends quartets to appear around the DC Metro area such as for the Alexandria Mayor and for retirement homes.  Members who are interested in being in one of the quartets to represent our chapter on at various times during the Feb. 14th weekend should contact Terry Reynolds right away.
Finally, our next Put Together Quartet Contest is set for Feb. 11th.  Matt Doniger is organizing another fun contest.  Quartets should start forming soon for either of the two categories  - regular or comedy, and should let Matt know the quartet name and the members singing in it.
After announcements, the leaders of the BHS Alexandria Harmonizers and its sister organization, AH Inc. presented a kick off session for the coming year.  It was reported that the chapter has purchased a new Harmo truck, and that financially we are making headway on improving our income and financial program. A complete year-in-review will be presented as part of the Presidents’ Banquet printed program and then released as a Looking Back report.
Members of the AH Inc. board present for this kick off session included president Bruce Reahm, secretary Bob Faherty, plus Terry Reynolds, Chuck Hunter, Marie Muscella, Dave Kohls, along with current and past BHS chapter presidents.
Dave Kohls shared results from recent show customer surveys and Maria Muscella spoke about the continuing efforts in strategic planning to include an effort to measure our progress quantitatively as well as qualitatively.
There are plans to work toward competition at the Cleveland International in 2021.
The first board 2020 board meeting with new president Stan Quick was held before the chapter meeting at SRT. Secretary is Chris Buechler, Treasurer is Al Herman, past president is Shawn Tallant, and at large board members are now Ben Watsky, Clyde Crusenberry, and Frank Shipp.
The major part of the work to manage the chapter these days comes from an Operations Team (changes since last year are marked with an *): executive director, Randall Eliason; membership director, Jacob Broude*; contest director, Nick Murane*; BHS Finance director, Dave Welter; AH Finance Director, Carl Kauffmann; artistic director, Joe Cerutti, Jr.; communications director, Steve Murane; director of shows, Joe Cerutti Sr.; Operations Director, Gary Cregan*; development director, Nick Leiserson*; education director, Sheryl Berlin; volunteer activities director, Robyn Murane; and archivist/historian, Jack Pitzer*.
The second half of this week’s meeting was a thorough presentation by the music team for 2020. This information was emailed to all members and included a complete list of shows and events for the coming year.
Section leaders for the year ahead are Brian Ammermann for tenors, Reed Livergood for leads, Jason Lee for baritones, and Ryan Mextorf for basses.
The plan to conduct individual interviews with each member was launched this week too.
Joe was excited to announce new songs for 2020 which includes  a return of the “Chorus Line Medley” and the addition of “Something’s Comin” from West Side Story, and more.  He even released song lists for the holiday shows next year.
The list of coaches lined up for the chorus included all familiar names – Steve Scott, Cy Wood, David Wright, Cindy Hansen, and Kevin Keller.
The final info from the music team was a rollout of a flexible rehearsal pilot plan for seven weeks. “The pilot is an alternative rehearsal approach for learning, coaching, and rehearsing Harmonizer music across a variety of forums and mediums/platforms that supports multiple learning styles. This pilot will utilize best practices, available technology, and experimental techniques for singers of all generations and abilities.” Here again, this info was emailed to all members.
Before adjourning on Tuesday, we bid farewell to Craig Kujawa who is off to a military assignment for a couple years. He will be missed in the front row, missed as a stage presence teacher, and missed as conventions chairman.  We sang “ A Place on the Risers for You” as is our tradition.
Before Craig left the DC area, he submitted a year-end report of Scrip earnings by the chapter for 2019.  A total of 22 participants earned a combined total of $1,617.55 for the chapter, which is nearly exactly the average of the prior 4 years. The top earning members were Chuck Hunter ($107.75), TJ Jones ($120.00), Carl Kauffmann ($168.00), Ken Ives ($252.25), Craig Kujawa ($311.95), and the 2019 Scrip Champion is Randall Eliason ($394.75).
Lastly, after about 4-5 years at the helm, Craig turned over management of the scrip program within the chapter to Ken Ives.
In other January news, this year’s Heat Glow at Jack and Pat Pitzer’s home on Sat. Jan. 4th was a great social event for the Harmonizer family. Everyone was welcome to attend with their significant other so the holiday decorated house was jammed full of folks.  Everyone brought goodies to share, so all tables and counters were covered with great treats.  There was some tag singing and there was the annual batch of holiday grog served. The nite was a great chance for some of the new guys to get to know more members and to share holiday stories.

The Heat Glow was started more than 50 years ago as a party for the Harmonizer family after the chorus sang at the annual Burning of the Greens in Alexandria.  The city would collect all the Christmas trees from around town and pile them high for a huge fire – sort of the opposite of a tree lighting event these days. The party has continued for all these years at different homes.

In other news, there were a good number of Harmonizer folks at the annual BLAST hosted by the Dundalk Chapter on Monday, Dec. 30th. Sam McFarland reports seeing Mike Kelly, Matt Doniger, Rick Taylor, Tim Buell, Chris Yates, Bob Hirsh, and Geoff Berman. Several of those men sang in quartets as part of the program – there was no contest this year. So quartets sang to entertain.

Until next time – editorjack! 

(This message is prepared for your review if you were there, for your information if you had to miss, and as a historical record of the great things going on each week during the 70th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd