Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Harmonizer 2015 Year In Review

We began our 2015 year with the Presidents’ Award Banquet and board installation on February 7th at Fort Myers club. The Harmonizer auxiliary, FRIENDS IN HARMONY helped decorate the tables.  Christina Ammerman was named their president. Guest speaker was Marty Monson, CEO of the BHS.  Terry Reynolds repeated as chapter president for ’15 and he and his board were installed for service including new community board members Liz Birnbaum, Paul Dolinsky, John Roots and Steve Sutton.

Also in February we had a tribute to honor Will Cox who retired as assistant musical director after 34 years.  He was noted for outstanding warm up sessions all around the BHS and there were video messages from former directors and Marty Monson. 

Our Singing Valentines program took on a new twist as we sent quartets to make public relations appearances in the Alexandria community. There were some quartets who presented Valentine messages for requested customers or for senior citizen facilities. Community Service Vice President Clyde Crusenberry, assisted by Ninamarie Maragiglio coordinated the appearances and Calvin Schnure organized the quartets.

The chorus appeared on the DC SingStrong show Sunday, March 8th at South Lakes High School in Reston.  It was a great hit with three of our new songs which were cheered wildly by the younger audience at the event.  Earlier, Tony Colosimo, Terry Reynolds, Doug White and Chris Odell taught a tag-singing class to the attendees at the event. 


This year’s prelims contest was in Harrisburg, PA and lots of Harmonizers were there both in admin positions, in competing quartets and in the audience. Two of our quartets earned scores that qualified them to sing at the International in Pittsburgh in July – MAYHEM with Matt Fellows, Pookie Dingle, Mike Pinto and Ken White and LAST MEN STANDING with TJ Barringer, Drew Feyrer, Mike Kelly and Ed Bell.  Our other two quartets were also in the finals on Saturday nite: FORECAST with Mike Fitch, Tyler Rackley, Dan Cook and Travis Murray; and YOUTH RECLAMATION PROJECT with Mike Wallen, Roger Tarpey, Vic Owen and Hardman Jones.

The Harmonizers hosted its second Aca Challenge at Lincoln Theater on U Street in DC Saturday, March 21st at 8 pm. The chapter invited DC area a cappella groups to audition – about 30 submitted materials and 6 were chosen to compete. The chapter awarded a $1000 first prize. First place winner was Vox Pop.  They received their “big” check presented by last year’s winners Word of Mouth, who have also appeared with the Harmonizers during the year.  Judges were leaders in the DC a cappella community. Also the audience was invited to vote via text during the contest for their favorite. Emcee for the night was Jonathan Minkoff who was emcee for the recent SingStrong show event where the chorus sang.


Shows vice president Nick Leiserson, shows producer Greg Tepe  and Aca Challenge show producer Todd Ryktarsyk assembled a team of chapter members to make the event a success including an all-important crew from the FRIENDS IN HARMONY  who worked back stage and in the lobby and auditorium.  The 80-man chorus sang “Thriller,” “Lullaby,” “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and “Sweet Caroline.” TBD also sang on the show


Our 8th annual Youth Harmony Festival was April 18th at Durant with 63 youth singers and 6 music educators. Brad Jones was coordinator.  MAYHEM performed and Pookie Dingle was director for the men’s chorus.  Erin Odell Cook directed the women’s chorus. TBD sang at this year’s festival.


In May we held our second WWII Veteran Tribute at First Baptist Church where we used our patriotic package for the concert.  Bill Colosimo was emcee.  Mayor William Euille spoke as did Congressman Don Byer. The FIH served refreshments.


We also did a patriotic package for the new flag ceremony at Old Dominion Boat Club in Alexandria.


Several quartets from the chapter competed at the Southern Division Contest in Reston in May. FORECAST with Dan Cook won it.  That is the 14th year in a row when a Harmo quartet won that contest.  YOUTH RECLAMATION PROJECTwas second. BRAVADO was fourth. HANDSOME REWARD with Mike Edison and Michael Gilmore was fifth.  Several members sang with and/or directed other choruses in the contest too.


In early June we were hired by Marriott Corp. to appear at the Washington DC Gay Pride Parade where we sang “Happy” on the street with their float in the parade.


Our appearance at the International in Pittsburgh was a major event for the year.  Our chorus of 121 men earned 90.2% and ranked fourth!  It was our 19th medal and our 25th time to compete at International.  Our songs were “Someone Like You” arranged by Steve Tramack and “Me Ol’ Bamboo” arranged by Clay Hine. Our coaches for the contest cycle were David Wright, Brandon Guyton and Cindy Hansen.  The musical preparation team with director Joe Cerutti at the helm, was associate director Tony Colosimo, choreographer Carlos Barillo and chorus riser coach Chuck McKeever.  Chuck headed up the team to manage our annual pre-international retreat at Westminster, MD. There were 24 guys in the class of ’15 and Spencer Wight was president.  There were a number of special forces guys who joined us for this contest.  Craig Kujawa was Pittsburgh chairman for our events that week.  The FIH provided lots of support all week – especially with the punk steam costumes. Rich and Peggy Wagner headed up the Hideaway for all of us to enjoy.


In the quartet contest in Pittsburgh, MAYHEM ranked 25th, BSQ ranked 29th and LAST MEN STANDING ranked 32nd.


In the summer we did our usual summer “caroling” at INOVA Alexandria Hospital and the summer outdoor concert at Market Square. Our a cappella group TBD sang at Carlyle Park (and used the new sound equipment funded by supporter contribution). Reed Livergood is the musical coordinator for TBD.  They also appeared at the National Christmas Tree Lighting in December. One of our other major chorus paid jobs was for the Asbury Methodist Village.  Bruce Lauther is our agent and lined up this show. Over 65 of us had great fun at the annual sing with other local chapters at Dog Days hosted by the Prince William Chapter.


Much of our musical work for the year was in preparation for the American Icon Show September 19th  at Schlesinger Center on NOVA Alexandria campus. Our FIH sold CDs and refreshments in the lobby and helped usher. This show was created by Carlos Barillo and yielded our new CD titled “American Icon” which we recorded during the weeks prior to the show.  Mike Kelly was lead technician for our recording sessions at First Baptist. The 97-man chorus sang songs made famous by these icons: Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson,  Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder , Pharrell Williams, Jason Mraz, Bruno Mars and Neil Diamond. Some songs were sung by TBD, some by DA CAPO, some by BRAVADO, some by soloists Steve White, Don Dillingham and Andrew Havens, and one song sung by a small ensemble of guys from the chorus.

At the fall M-AD contest, the 97-man chorus sang the same two songs we sang at Pittsburgh.  We scored 90.9% and won the contest – our 26th time. We will go to the contest in Nashville in 2016. Shawn Tallant was our convention chairman. Many Harmonizers serve in leadership capacities for the district – Bill Colosimo is IPP; Dennis Ritchey is EVP; Bob Eckman is Treasurer; Keith Jones is Secretary; Chuck Harner is at-large member.  Mike Kelly and Carl Kauffmann are on the district events team.

Our quartets in the fall contest were FORECAST, HERSHEY TRANSIT CO., YOUTH RECLAMATION PROJECT, and BRAVADO.  LAST MAN STANDING did their swan song as past champ.

Terry Reynolds and Mike Kelly were elected to the district Hall of Honor for their service to M-AD.

Other fall events included Veterans Day singouts at two schools – Oakton Elementary and George Washington Middle School where Casey Belzer is the teacher; and a singout to help raise money for an Alexandria Wounded Warrior project.

The annual holiday show was also at Schlesinger Center and featured the chorus singing several new songs with other artists on the show including Positive Vibrations youth steel orchestra, Marilyn Moore operatic soprano, Word of Mouth a cappella ensemble.  TBD sang on the show too.  Members of the Pride of Baltimore SAI chorus also joined us for some songs. We did two shows at 2pm and 7:30pm on Saturday, Sept. 12th.  We wore colored sweat shirts and scarves for one part of the show. The silent auction team was headed up by Don Dillingham and Randall Eliason. Will Cox did his annual humorous presentation of    “The Night Before Christmas” which was the usual hit for our audiences.

Also in December we sang holiday music as we strolled from restaurant to restaurant in Old Town Alexandria on Tuesday Dec. 15th.

As part of our major thrust this year to improve our singing, the musical leadership launched the “Certified Singer” program with a goal that all will have gone through it by the time we head to Nashville for the international convention/contest. This is an approach to make each member a better singer and contributor to the whole of the chorus. Associate director Tony Colosimo is heading up this project.


Also during the year, the chapter administrative team launched a companion 501 (c) 3 corporation called Alexandria Harmonizers, Inc. with Ken Fess as its president. This group will work with the Harmonizers BHS chapter to develop funding and operational support needed.


At year’s end, the producers of “I Am Harvey Milk” announced that the Alexandria Harmonizers are their choice to serve as the chorus in the DC premiere of the modern oratorio at the Strathmore Music Center, April 23 and 24, 2016.  The Harmonizers will be performing along with the National Philharmonic, Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth, and composer Andrew Lippa.


Membership at the end of the year was 232.  Four members were added to the memorial roll during the year – Skip Coburn, John Hohl, John Pence and Phil Stern.

Until next time – editorjack!

(This message is prepared for your review for the year just past.) —YeEd




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