Looking Back on July 1-5, 2008 International Convention Week
(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 at an Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter meeting. —Ye Ed.)
Many of the Harmonizer guys and their crowd of supporters, family and friends drove to Nashville for the 70th International convention of the Barbershop Harmony Society, July 1-6, 2008. Seemed like we didn’t hear many hardship travel stories this year from those who took flights. The fun started on Tuesday when you started seeing more and more of our Harmonizer family in the Doubletree lobby. The hotel had a great breakfast place and a Starbucks shop. So we were set.
It was about a 4-block walk to the contest session and to the headquarters hotel. Many of us also walked by and/or even toured the new Society headquarters. Great place. We were proud of it and happy that our staffers have good working conditions. There are a lot of Harmonizer mementos there, but too many to mention here.
Always cool to see so many of our guys at the Harmony Marketplace, or in line at the registration (that was one of the snags this year – getting a name tag). I tried the foot massage station in the exhibit hall – felt great, even tho it was early in the week. Some of us got tickets for the extra events like Collegiate contest, AIC show, Harmony Foundation show or World Harmony Jamboree.
Early in the week the Society Board met, and our guy Alan Wile was there as an elected member of that body. Chris Buechler also attended as he has been appointed as parliamentarian for the board.
Tuesday, the Harmonizers helped provide a crowd and demonstration group for Director Joe’s class for Chorus Directors. Then that evening we had our first chorus meeting and practice in the ballroom of our hotel.
During the week, many former members stopped in to check on us. And always there was a good crowd of family and friends to cheer and be an audience. Several Hamonizer families turned out in large numbers – Bill and Jean Stewart and crew, Craig Odells, Steve Whites, and the Cerutti clan. Coaches were there too - Steve Tramack, Stephanie Brickston, and Kirk Young who was there all week for all of the rehearsals. His energy was a great help.
Wednesday morning early was a practice for chorus and front row. Then we all managed to grab some chow and head to the contest site to cheer for RINGERS with Mike Pinto; LAST KIDS PICKED with Mike and Eric Wallen and Tony Colosimo; FOUR ACES with Ed Cazenas, Richard Lewellen and Nick Aiuto. OLD SCHOOL with Rick Taylor.
Former Harmonizers in quartets included Scott Disney, Ron Rogers and Denny Malone.
The RINGERS and OLD SCHOOL made the cut to the top twenty to compete on Thursday. And then OLD SCHOOL made the top ten and earned a 5th place medal behind Redline in 4th, State Line Grocery in 3rd, Crossroads in 2nd and OC Times in 1st.
There were rehearsals on Wednesday and at the Thursday rehearsal, the chorus played its usual prank on Director Joe when they started the chorus of the ballad with the wrong words. This year he did not have a heart attack!!! But it got him good.
During the week, the PROBE group (that stands for PR Officers and Bulletin Editors) honored our own Martin Banks as a PR Officer of the Year for his work at promoting our chapter.
Friday was the big chorus contest day. It started with the long-standing tradition of the Togetherness Breakfast. The FRIENDS group outdid themselves with decorations and President Stamps presided. The class of 2008 president Tom Kraus spoke and set the stage for a good laugh or two and then a zinger of a close. At that point, the class was invited to ditch the kerchiefs they had carried for the last few weeks and become part of the official chorus.
VIP guests included Rob Hopkins who did the music for the ballad. Director Joe recognized several men and his music team who had helped him this year. He also introduced former directors John Hohl, Richard Lewellen and Terry Reynolds.
Coach Young gave a great pep talk about the importance of the moment. Old Timer Pitzer lead the group down memory lane to reflect on our past golden moments. Then Director Joe hit us all hard with a great message about doing our job to succeed.
The chorus contest was a tough one. And a long one. Alexandria did not sing til about 7:30 pm. Then in the midst of it all that evening, we had to take a planned delay for the fireworks. The show was shown on the screen inside the hall. Good plan too, as an earlier set-off-of fireworks was mighty loud.
In the end the Harmonizers captured 8th place and moved up a bunch from last year. We were almost as happy as those who had won a medal. Atlanta Metro was 7th, Dave Calland’s Alliance chorus was 6th, Northbrook was 5th, Denver was 4th, Greg Lyne’s Voices in Harmony was 3rd, St. Charles with Jim Henry and David Wright was 2nd, and Masters of Harmony was 1st.
There were a lot of former members and even a few current members who sang in other choruses during this contest: Denny Malone, Denver; Lynn Hineman and Joe Kane, Tampa; Ron Rogers and Jack Stevens, Heart of TX; Steve Tramack, Nashua; Jeff Hart, Atlanta; Will Mudd Simmons, KY Union; Dwain Chambers, Memphis who were mic testers chorus; Terry Traylor, Phoenix; David Binetti who is president of Voices in Harmony in Bay Area; Sam McFarland, Bob Hirsh, Rick Taylor, Bob Mattes, Scott Disney, and Chris Yates sang with Dundalk; Rich Garodnick, Houston; Ray Johnson and Bill Power, Masters.
Saturday, some of us managed to get up to attend the Collegiate Quartet contest. Our own Eric Wallen was in the first singing quartet, CRUNCH TIME. They captured a 5th place medal!! Winner of that contest was RINGMASTERS from Sweden.
Tony Colosimo and Joe Eckert were in the mic tester quartet for that event – ROAD TRIP. Then they did their swan song set – as last year’s collegiate champs – at the end while scores were totaled. Their quartet had worked a lot all week at events such as the Mass Sing outside the new headquarters office. Tony, Joe and Eric sang in the collegiate quartet champ chorus as part of the opening ceremonies on Saturday nite before the quartet finals.
During the week, Harmonzers were everywhere. Director Joe was emcee for half of the first round of the quartet contest.
These former or current members were also spotted during the week: Mark Samuel, Fred Womer, JJ Jackson, Ben Luttge, Duane Gunn, Mike Louque, Father Joe Witmer, John Rettenmeyer, Alan Durick, John Adams who was honored as 50-year member, Dick Hall, Jack McKendree, Ben Smith, Darryl Flinn who was on the panel all week, Keith Jones, John Hohl, Bob Caldwell, Jack Pitzer, Ross Johnson, Lew Klinge, JT Price, Ron Dionne, Larry Shelton, Bill Sowers, Ken Rub, Greg Tepe, Larry Dieters, Rob Nutt, Ron Rich, Bob Austin, Dick Newton, and Dave Barton. (And I bet we missed one or more.)
It was a week to remember. Hope this helps.
Until next time – editorjack!