Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Looking Back on the Singing Valentines Project (Feb 17th Chapter Meeting Canceled)

(Thanks to Randall Eliason for this report. YeEd)


Eighteen Harmonizers, combining into 6 different quartets, performed 37 Singing Valentines for the Alexandria community on February 13 and 14. Performance venues included 12 restaurants, 9 nursing homes/senior centers, 5 schools, and other locations including Alexandria City Hall, the Northern VA Fine Arts Association (Athenaeum), the Torpedo Factory Arts Center, First Baptist Church, and the Old Dominion Boat Club.


Last year the chapter board changed the mission of the Singing Valentines program from a fundraiser to community outreach, with free performances particularly focused on restaurants, schools, and senior centers in our local community. Snowstorms last year forced the cancellation of many of the gigs, so this was the first year we were able fully to implement the community outreach plan. It was a big success and we learned a lot of lessons that will help us improve and grow the program for future years.


A big thank you to the following people for doing the work that made it all possible:


Clyde Crusenberry and Ninamarie Maragioglio for all the work on outreach and marketing, contacting the various locations to arrange the gigs. Calvin Schnure for acting as quartet-master, recruiting singers and grouping them into quartets.


Noah Van Gilder, outgoing marketing VP, for setting the program in motion and for designing the flyer. Josh Roots and Scipio Garling for creating and posting a Valentines order form for the Harmonizer website. Tena Branstetter for acting as photographer for some of the quartet gigs.


Brian Ammerman, Tim Buell, Clyde Crusenberry, Josh Desportes, Don Dillingham, Drew Fuller, Gerry Fuller, Joel Golden, Ken Henderson, Troy Hillier, Carl Kaufmann, Bruce Lauther, Steve Murane, Chris Odell, Chuck Powell, Rick Savage, Aaron Simoneau, and Alan Wile, who braved the wind chills to sing in the quartets. Special thanks to Tim and Chuck who stepped in as last minute pinch-hitters when other guys developed a conflict or didn't feel well.


Thanks too to all the men who indicated their willingness to sing in a quartet but who ended up not being needed - we'll get you next year.


And a special thanks to Bruce Lauther, who has carried on his own version of community service Singing Valentines for years with a quartet he calls "Four From the Heart," which was a key part of the Harmonizer program this year. Bruce also designed a Valentines card that all quartets had available to distribute to their audiences.


The men who participated found it great fun and very rewarding - here is just a sampling of their experiences:


  • Carl, Bruce, Drew and Alan had a great reception at TC Williams High School with arts principal Shawn Thorpe, where they sang for teachers, a group of music educators from 14 Alexandria and Fairfax high schools, and two large student choral groups who responded to their performance with screams and a standing ovation. The men were also able to plug our own Youth Harmony Festival and encourage the students to participate.
  • Aaron, Tim, Chris and Steve received an employee discount for dinner after singing upstairs and downstairs at the Hard Times Cafe. They finished their evening with a great gig at the Valentines Party at the Old Dominion Boat Club, where they were invited to stay for free food and drink, chatted with the Club president and others about the Harmonizers, and even recruited a potential new bass.
  • Rick, Clyde, Troy and Joel got a very appreciative reception at a number of senior centers that were having their Valentines Day celebration and made the quartet part of the party. At the Mt. Vernon Nursing Home, where Joe Cerutti Sr. works, Joe introduced them to a resident whose brother, Nelson Sublet, used to be a Harmonizer. When the quartet met the resident, Dan, and sang for him, he wept.
  • Brian, Tim, Gerry and Don sang for about 50-60 very engaged and enthusiastic elementary school students at the Cora Kelly Magnet School. Don was able to talk to the students for a bit and now they are all fired up to go win a gold medal in Pittsburgh! They also sang for a group of teachers, and one came up to them afterwards with tears in her eyes because her father sings for a chorus in MA and they reminded her of him.
  • Aaron, Josh, Chris and Ken sang at the Torpedo Factory, where they met a man who said he had just been at open auditions and was excited about coming to sing with them on Tuesday. They finished their evening at a few restaurants, where they were accosted by adoring female fans demanding photos and songs.
  • Drew, Chuck, Troy and Joel did the Valentines Day version of our Christmas "pub crawl," singing to appreciative crowds at a number of Old Town restaurants, including singing at individual tables to the delight of the couples who were out having their Valentines Day dinner.

All of the men also enjoyed the opportunity to sing in some new quartet combinations with their fellow Harmonizers. Next year: more singers, more Valentines, and more spreading the love.


It's great to be a Valentiner!  -- Randall



A huge snow fall hit the DC metro area starting about 3 pm on Monday, so by 11 pm the City of Alexandria had closed offices and schools for Tuesday.  And thus our president Terry Reynolds declared no chapter meeting using our Yahoo communications group. Everyone was encouraged to work on their music and visual reviews.


In other news from the past weekend, kudos to Tony  and Joe who were invited to be guest clinicians of the Middle and High School All-District Choruses for District 9 of the Virginia Choral Directors Association. It is very rare for prestigious choral events like this to invite clinicians with a barbershop background to serve in this capacity, however, both men have comprehensive backgrounds in choral music education, but were invited in their capacity as the music leadership of the Alexandria Harmonizers.

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 66th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd.


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