Thursday, October 1, 2015

Looking Back on the Sept. 19th American Icon shows at Schlesinger Hall

The energy was electric this past Saturday, the chorus sounded GREAT, and audience loved every minute of it. Well done, all! We have accomplished an amazing feat this past spring/summer in learning so many new songs and presenting them at a high level. There were 97 men on stage this past weekend for the 2 pm and 8 pm shows at Schlesinger Hall on the NOVA campus in Alexandria.

Congrats to Carlos Barillo who created the show idea and helped director Joe Cerutti and the music team pick the songs.  He also created the popular choreography and was show producer.

The audience responses were great! Chuck Hunter sent word of congrats from Istanbul to all.

According to chapter historian Martin Banks, the Harmonizer appearance at Schlesinger was a return to that venue after an 11-year hiatus.  Schlesinger was opened in 2001 to the relief of the Harmonizers who had trouble finding a suitable venue for formal shows within the Alexandria city limits after losing their traditional annual spring and fall show home at TC Williams HS (the old building).  We produced six annual shows at Schlesinger from fall 2001 to spring 2004 until overcome by scheduling issues.  This return to the venue marks a renewed chapter emphasis on service and engagement within our home community.  (A footnote:  the 2002 Spring Tonic honored Scott Werner on the eve of his retirement after almost 30 years as musical director. A theater seat was dedicated to Scott and his wife Linda (many of us found the plaque on Saturday).  VAUDEVILLE came from retirement to be part of the show and afterglow.  This was probably John Hohl’s last performance on stage with the Harmonizers.)

The show day on Sept 19th began with a beehive of activity with guys arriving with all their uniform parts.  We wore two uniforms for this show – black tux and black suit.  We did change ties in the middle of the second half to the red/white/blue striped tie for the finale.  Many of the men were at this hall for the first time and had to discover the dressing room spaces in the hall. Most brought some kinda lunch for the day.

The FRIENDS IN HARMONY and many non-singing Harmonizers helped haul in supplies to use in the lobby such as snacks and coffee and wine to sell to the audiences. Some of us helped fold the printed programs.  Others set up the box office operation which apparently went well as we heard no complaints from customers. Keith Jones and Bruce Minnick sold our CDs in the lobby including our newly released CD of the American Icon songs.  The new one sells for $10.

The printed program also recognized many sponsors/donors to the chapter:

It also showed the many extra hands it takes to present such a show: Joe Cerutti, musical director; Tony Colosimo, associate director; Carlos Barillo, choreographer; Mike Kelly and Terry Reynolds, assistant directors; Steve White, music and performance vp; Nick Leiserson, shows vp; Dave Branstetter, marketing vp; Scott Selman, lighting; Mike Kelly and Stephen Shetler, plus Doug White and Dennis Ritchey,  sound; Greg Tepe, stage manager; Robyn Murane, house manager; Dixie Kennett, back stage; Christina Ammerman and FRIENDS IN HARMONY, refreshments; and Bob Blair, transportation. Thanks too for the riser crews for the weekend.

The staff at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Art Center were very helpful as well.

Our special performance guest was Wes Crawford who was our drummer for many of the songs and played behind the risers with Joe keeping him in his sight line. Our guest quartet was DA CAPO with Ryan Griffith, Tony Colosimo, Joe Sawyer with Kirk Young as their bass.

Our chapter quartet BRAVADO with Doug White, Kevin McKenzie, Chris Odell and Todd Ryktarsyk sang several parts of songs with the chorus,.

And here is the list of great songs we sang for our audiences and the American Icons who sang them:

Nat King Cole – a medley of his songs arranged by David Harrington and Mark Hale including “Orange Colored Sky,” “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” “ It’s Only a Paper Moon,” and “L.O.V.E.” (sung by our BRAVADO  quartet with the chorus)

Ray Charles – “Hallelujah, I Love Her So” sung by DA CAPO

Johnny Cash – “Ring of Fire” arranged by David Wright featuring the basses down front; and “Riders in the Sky” arranged by Pete Rupay with bass soloists Steve White, Don Dillingham and Andrew Havens

Frank Sinatra – “Ebb Tide” and “You Make Me Feel So Young “ sung by DA CAPO

Michael Jackson – “Man in the Mirror” sung by a VLQ from the chapter and “Thriller” arranged by Dan Naumann sung by the chorus with full stage choreography

Billy Joel – “For the Longest Time” sung by TBD and “Lullaby” arranged by Kirk Young and sung by the chorus

Stevie Wonder – “Isn’t She Lovely” sung by DA CAPO

Pharrell Williams – “Happy” arranged by Adam Scott with soloist Josh DesPortes and the chorus

Jason Mraz – “I’m Yours” performed by TBD

Bruno Mars – “Just the Way You Are” performed by TBD

Neil Diamond – “America” arranged by Steve Tramack, and “Sweet Caroline” arranged by Dylan Oxford, both sung by the chorus, with audience sing-a-long too

Saturday morning the basses met in the lobby to kick off their day and the chapter’s a cappella group, TBD,  met on stage with their director, Reed Livergood,  to finalize their performance details. Members of TBD include Clark Chesser, Josh DesPortes, Scipio Garling, Kellen Hertz, Troy Hillier, Nick Leiserson, Reed, Josh Roots, Todd Ryktarsyk, Noah Van Gilder and Spencer Wight.

Before the 2 pm show, the chorus assembled in a conference room, dressed in our uniforms, for last minute details. President Terry Reynolds introduced our newest board member for the Alexandria Harmonizers Inc. board – Julie Rizzo. Welcome to the Harmo family.

This weekend’s show was the first show performance for Jeff Burkey, Rich Payton, Nathan Vomocil, John Smith, Tom Jackson and Gene Swartz.

For this show was also the debuted our electronic song board on stage.  Thanks to Bruce Roehm and the many men who contributed monies to pay for it. Chapter IT chief, Mike Kelly, programmed it and Dave DesPortes operated the remote from the risers to change song prompts.

The huge American flag wowed the crowd for our finale and the projected images for some songs was a great addition too.  The 1950s antique radio was from Lew Klinge’s collection.  Dennis Ritchey and Steve White built the great cemetery props for the presentation of “Thriller.”

Kudos to young Leland, grandson of Brad and Adele Jones, who opened the show mesmerized with listening to the radio instead of doing his home work.

Dennis Ritchey did the emcee duties to invite the audience to come to the holiday show, to buy a CD and for the men to come sing with us.

Keith Jones reports to YeEd there were about 20  Harmonizers who came to hear the show but did not sing this time.  And a host of former members too including Ryan Odell, Craig’s son.

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 67th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd.


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