Looking Back on the Feb 14th, 2020 Singing Valentines
The Harmonizers’ Singing Valentine program for 2020 was designed to get quartet performances in many venues and in front of many audiences in the greater Alexandria area. It is part of the chapter’s strategic plan to expand our “brand” in all aspects of the metro area.
Chapter leaders working in community relations such as Clyde Crusenberry, and in communications such as Steve Murane made contacts and assigned the quartets. Music team member Calvin Schnure formed the quartets needed to fill all the performances.
Here are the reports from the quartets who made the appearances.
Quartet No. 1 consisted of Steve Szyszka, Rob Barnovsky, Matt Doniger, and Brian Ammerman (who prepared this report of the quartet’s day).
We sang for four different centers/communities between 10am and 12:30 on Valentine’s morning. This included singing for 20-30 people at St. Martin du Porres Senior Center; for 10 lovely ladies at Mount Vernon Rec. Center; for 10 residents at Paul Spring Retirement community where our gracious host was Clyde Crusenberry’s niece Lynne; and finally for four separate groups of lunching residents at The Fountains at Washington House.
Our repertoire for the first stop consisted only of “Heart of My Heart”, and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” For the other locations we added in “I’ll Be Seeing You”, which delighted and moved people, and we made “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” a sing-along which put smiles on lots of faces.
This year’s experience was good for the heart, and a good time for all involved, residents and singers alike.
Reports for quartets No.2 and No. 3 were prepared by Dean Rust. In all locations, quartets sang “Heart of My Heart” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” with one exception when quartet 2 sang “My Wild Irish Rose” in response to a determined audience member who wanted one more.
Quartet No. 2 included Mario Sengco, tenor; Chuck Hunter, lead; Ken Rub, bari; and Dean Rust, bass. They sang four gigs set up by Clyde and confirmed by Dean. The quartet was organized and gigs assigned by Calvin. Here is where they sang:
Charles Houston Recreation Center in Alexandria (12:30) – Sang for 20 women who call themselves the “Crunch Bunch.” Met Vanessa Greene, who runs the Senior Programs at the Center and is John Greene’s sister. The ladies looked spectacular in red as befits the day and were very appreciative. We were offered lunch but had to decline.
Mayor’s Office (1:05) – Sang for the Mayor’s staff at City Hall in Old Town Alexandria, and the people in the 5th floor lunch room. The Mayor’s administrative aide is clearly a fan and was quite taken with our version of “Heart of My Heart.”
Lee Center Adult Day Services (1:30) – Sang for about 25 adults, male and female. Smiles all around as we sang, an especially warm reception. Staff very welcoming.
The Fairfax (2:15)– A long trek down Route 1 to this facility near Ft. Belvoir. Reported to the Community Center and sang in 5 locations for residents and staff.
--For about 10 in the lobby including passersby who stopped and a woman who seemed as much taken with the four “handsome” men (in white ties and tails) as she was with our singing.
--For 10 in the lunch room (lunch was over but for a few stragglers).
--For 10 playing cards in a sun drenched alcove with passersby who stopped.
--For 10 in the assisted-living section, who we left with cries of “encore.”
--For 15 in the “memory” section including a lady quite agitated as we entered, but who calmed and moved up front as we sang. The power of music to reach people seemed especially apparent in the memory unit.
Quartet No. 3 included Aaron Simoneau, tenor; Brian Miller, lead; Ken Rub, bari; and Dean Rust, bass. Here is where they sang:
Six gigs at restaurants in the Del Ray area between 6:30 and 7:30 pm, also set up and confirmed by Dean, with information from Clyde, and the quartet organized and gigs assigned by Calvin.
In all cases, restaurants turned down ambient music before we sang.
Before the first stop, we dropped into a chocolate store to sing through the songs. It had no customers at the time. Staff took note, smiled from ear to ear, and presented us each with a piece of chocolate as we departed.
The Evening Star – for around 20 customers and staff. The manager, cooks and waiters stood along the back wall soaking it in.
Bob Vivant Café – for around 10 patrons and staff, including 2 small children who seemed both pleased and annoyed at different times.
St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub – for around 10 patrons who seemed not to be annoyed by our disruption of their conversation and laptop work and cheerfully applauded.
Holy Cow – for about 25 patrons who allowed themselves time away from their monstrous burgers to listen to Brian Miller’s romantic lead.
Pork Barrel BBQ – for about 35 patrons who came to attention at the sound of the pitch pipe and enthusiastically welcomed both songs. In between the songs we led the crowd in singing happy birthday to the bartender. Best reception of the night.
Tios Grill – Biggest crowd at 60, but also most challenging venue given crowd size and noise. Sang in two locations. The strolling guitar man gracefully withdrew as Brian belted out a strong lead on both songs.
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