Saturday, January 23, 2016

Looking Back on the Chapter Award Banquet and Installation of 2016 Officers

This year’s Presidents’ Award Banquet was at Ft. Myer on Saturday nite, Jan. 9th .  This was our 42nd banquet event. About 100 of the Harmonizer family attended the buffet banquet.  


Our 2015 chapter president Terry Reynolds served as master of ceremonies.  Social hour wwas from 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm, then Terry invited folks to find their seats at the tables which had been decorated by Robyn and Steve Murane. 


After the meal, Terry thanked others who had helped with the banquet event including Scipio Garling and Jack Pitzer for the printed program and year in review; Alan Wile for helping get all the awards for the nite; and Howard Nestlerode and Bruce Minnick for help with tickets and reservations. [See the recently released Harmonizer 2015 Year in Review.]


Each year this event is hosted by the past presidents of the chapter – thus the name Presidents’ banquet.  There were 10 presidents attending this year: Steve Murane, 2011-12; Mick Stamps, 2008; Rick Wagner, 2005; Ken Fess, 2004; Bob Wells, 1996; Chris Buechler, 1995; Terry Jordan, 1984-85; Chuck Harner, 1979-80; Alan Wile, 2013,2007, 1997-98; and Jack Pitzer, 1976 (the first Presidents’ Ball was during his term – some years the event has been even more formal and other years it has been a potluck). To continue a tradition begun at the first banquet, each man presented a rose to his significant other as we sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”


Terry thanked his 2015 board and asked them to stand to be recognized by the chapter: John Roots, Steve Sutton, Liz Birnbaum, Michael Gilmore, Chris Buechler, Carl Kauffmann, Dave Branstetter, Todd Ryktarsyk, Rich Hewitt, Nick Leiserson and Steve White.


Terry shared. “We administrators love to administrate and organize things but we are after all a chorus.  It is all about the music.  We have amazing broad and deep talent on our music team lead by Joe, Tony and Carlos. 

“We’ve made some significant organizational changes this year, but the primary inspiration and motivation behind those changes is our musical director and his vision of what the Alexandria Harmonizers can become in the future.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, still my number one reason why it’s great to be a Harmonizers, your Musical Director, Joe Cerutti, and our speaker for tonite.”


Joe spoke from the heart and seriously to share that “without the “why”, the “what” of our efforts is void.”


Alan Wile, past chapter president and past district president then installed the board for the Alexandria Harmonizers BHS Chapter


President – Randall Eliason

Secretary – Chris Buechler
Treasurer – Al Herman

Members at Large – Mike Edison, Kevin McKenzie, Steve White

Immediate Past President – Rick Wagner


Terry presented an update for the FRIENDS IN HARMONY. “For years our friends and family have given us tremendous support through the FRIENDS IN HARMONY and the Harmonettes which used to be the group’s name.   They cheer us on and make us feel special with a keepsake to carry on the competition stage with us.


“But they also do a lot of the work of keeping the harmonizers going, from the helping with membership, helping throw parties and events, running the house at our shows selling snacks CDs, tickets, taking donations, the silent auction, sewing and mending costumes, and particularly last year with thankless task of wrangling our Steam Punk outfits for Pittsburgh.

“According to the Breathless Moments book, the first president of the Harmonettes was Ceil Rodda in 1966.  So it’s been 50 years.

“For those that haven’t heard, the FIH has decided for now to put the formal organization on hiatus.  With our new Harmonizer organizational structure that isn’t based on chapter membership, significant others and friends can hold positions in the organization as much as chapter members such as Robyn Murane our Volunteer Activities Director and a member of the Operations Team.   And through Robyn the current members of FIH are committing to continue to provide great support the Harmonizers as they have for 50 years.

“On behalf of all Harmonizers, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for past, present, and future dedication and support that has been such an important part of the history and successes of the Alexandria Harmonizers.”

Moving on, Terry introduced the many “riser rats” who continually execute the hard work to set up the risers, sound equipment, refreshments, guest chairs, admin table, screen and av equipment, membership sign-in kiosk and member picture board.


Terry used his presidential prerogative to present three Meritorious Service Awards for exceptional service to the chapter. 


The first recipient was Shawn Tallant who is ever-present in stepping forward to take on projects, usually at his own initiative.  He volunteered to help with preparations for our Normandy trip and used personal Air Force connections to arrange for the special rehearsal at the US Air Force band complex.  He stepped up to the critical role of coordinating housing and the other details of our trip to the 2015 District Convention and within a day of taking on the position had arranged with our Ocean City Hotel.


The second recipient was Reed Livergood who came to us from a successful career in another top five chorus and has quickly moved into duties as a leader within the front row, and as the baritone section leader. He has been appointed to fill the shoes of Assistant Director Emeritus Will Cox as the chorus’s regular warm up director; and has been named as successor to TBD founder Tom Kraus as director of our contemporary ensemble


The third recipient was Bob Rhome who has constantly worked in front of and behind the scenes to make things happen in the Harmonizers. He maintains the chapter calendar on Groupanizer.    He arranges and coordinates all our rehearsal space and manages our relationship with Durant staff and First Baptist Church.

And then we honored these recipients of the six chapter memorial awards given each year with a description of the award.


New Note of the Year Award

 (Nominated by the President, VP-Membership/Chapter Development, and VP-Operations; selected by the Board of Directors).  Given to a Harmonizer who has contributed outstanding service to the Chapter in his first year of membership.  All new members for the previous 18 months prior to October 31 of the current year will be considered.  Attendance, attitude, and accomplishments of duties, both volunteer and assigned, shall be considered.


2015 recipient – Tom Jackson  – Although he is one of our newest members, he has also become one of our most visible, in part because of his willingness to contribute his substantial musical expertise and experience to our efforts to improve our singing and expand our performance offerings.  When most new members are still getting their harmonic feet wet, he jumped in the deepest of choral waters as one of our new bass section leaders.  He’s been an active participant in non-concert events, such as the Tag-a-Thon and off-site sectionals, and most recently began providing his talent as a keyboardist for “I Am Harvey Milk” rehearsals.


Spirit of Harmony Award

 (Selected by the Board of Directors).  Presented to the Harmonizer who during the past year best exemplified the fundamental Society membership qualities of congeniality and good character and worked hardest to encourage participation in vocal harmony by Chapter visitors and members.  The awardee must reflect the spirit and ideals of O.C. Cash (Society founder) by his enthusiasm for good fellowship and good harmony and by his unselfish dedication to and obvious joy in barbershopping.

2015 recipient – Rich Hewitt –    Even though he is a comparatively new member himself,

Rich embodies the spirit of the Spirit of Harmony Award.   Few Harmonizers have shown the passion for making new people feel welcome. From welcoming guests and introducing them to the chapter, to shepherding prospects through the application process and new members through the hurdle of onboarding the chorus, his boundless enthusiasm has put wind in the sails of the goal of expanding our ranks.


Ibbianne and Wilbur Sparks Award

 (Selected by the Board of Directors).  Given to recognize the important contribution of Harmonizer family teams to the success and well-being of the Chapter.  The award will be made only to a truly outstanding team which has contributed greatly both in volume and quality of services over a period of time.  The team can be a Harmonizer and any family member or significant other.

2015 recipient –  Carol and Dick Dangel – He is a strong musician having served as our pitch man for years and as a member of the music committee for several years.  She has worked many years as a FRIENDS IN HARMONY volunteer, including being its secretary for five years. She has worked at contests and shows and wherever or whenever the Harmonizer’s sang. Her work as our seamstress has been invaluable repeatedly in sewing costumes for shows and Internationals, as well as creating hundreds of Harmo costumes for the teddy bears we sold as a chapter.

Harmonizer Honor Award

 (Selected by the Board of Directors).  Given to a Harmonizer for service which is above and beyond the usual service expected of members during the past year.  It is not intended as a reward for discharging a single specific duty, but for continuous service in several activities.


2015 recipient – Craig KujawaIn the past year, Craig went above and beyond in his excellent performance as our contest chairman for the Pittsburgh international convention.  His "Steel City Updates" were informative, entertaining, and did an excellent job of providing all Harmonizers with step by step information about the convention.  All convention logistics and arrangements went off without a hitch under his guidance and leadership and we are fortunate that he has agreed to take on the expanded responsibility of the Operations Team Contest Director for 2016.  In addition, in 2015 he took on the task of handling scrip sales as a fundraising tool and moving those sales toward an automated, on-line model. If there is anyone that exemplifies the intent of this award you would be hard pressed to find someone more deserving.  He has, year after year, pitched in wherever and whenever needed – and never more so than this past year.


Oz Newgard Memorial Award

 (Nominated by the President, VP-Music & Performance, and Musical Director; Selected by  the Board of Directors).  Presented in memory of Oz Newgard (Musical Director 1962-70).  It is given to the Harmonizer who has made a significant contribution to the musical program of the Chapter during the past year.  The awardee's contribution need not be highly visible or of a technical musical character, but it must be related directly to the musical program. It should show the intent to make the musical program superior and enjoyable for all members.  The awardee should be a dedicated Harmonizer who has endeavored to improve the Chapter image in the Society and in the Alexandria community through musical excellence.  Any Harmonizer who has been a chapter member for more than one year shall be eligible for the award.


2015 recipient – Mike Kelly Since joining us in 2008 as a former director of another local chorus, Mike has contributed to our musical program as a pillar of the bass  section for seven years, and for most of that time as its section leader. As a quartet singer, he has represented us a number of International level quartets.  As an assistant director, he’s reliably filled in whenever needed

Behind the scenes, as our chief audio-visual manager, he’s provided or overseen our sound, amplification, and mixing needs both at rehearsal and in performance.  His diligence in this role   resulted this year in our most recent CD, “American Icon.”  His relentless pursuit of the project enabled us to sell that CD at the show this fall.


Harmonizer Memorial Award

 (Selected by the Board of Directors).  Presented in memory of those men who died while members of the Chapter.  It is the highest recognition which the Chapter can bestow on a member.  It is given to the Harmonizer who, during his entire period of chapter membership, has devoted himself most unselfishly in rendering outstanding service to the Chapter.  The award is made only to a truly outstanding member who has regularly attended Chapter activities and who has contributed greatly both in volume and quality of services over a long period of time.

2015 – Bob Blair   Bob embodies selfless dedication to the needs of the Harmonizers. For the past ten years, he has been the go-to-guy for all of the tough, unwanted tasks within the chapter. He has been the Harmonizer truck pilot, load master, and master mechanic. He has always stayed on top of an ever changing support schedule, including the important Harmonizer Performance support and riser rental programs. He has consistently been the first to motivate the riser crew, a task he performed through example. Always there, always working, never complaining.

He has managed the Harmonizer off-site storage facilities and has initiated steps to save the Harmonizer thousands a year in storage costs. For the past four years he has been a very active member of the chapter history team, ensuring the upkeep and security of the critical chapter archives. He has worked with the visual team as leader and has repeatedly contributed his casual competence as a former professional drummer on any our stage productions that needed one.


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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