Thursday, November 21, 2019

Looking Back on the Nov. 19th Chapter Meeting 

It was all-hands-on-deck this week as all the singers knew there was work to do in finishing preparations for the first of our two 2019 holiday shows which will be at Strathmore at 4 pm on Sat. Nov. 30th. (This is where we did the Harvey Milk music and the Iron and Coal works.)  The chapter appreciates that the Strathmore folks asked us to be part of their holiday offerings for their patrons.  Their marketing folks have been at work to spread the word for this show.

And wHAT A SHOW IT WILL BE!  For those of us in the seats on Tuesday nite we all agree with director Joe Cerutti that this will be some of the best singing and performing ever by a Harmonizer chorus for a holiday show.  And we are ready now – not the day before!!

Then you must not forget the guest artists joining the Harmonizer chorus for this show – gold medal quartet VOCAL SPECTRUM, and a great  high school ensemble, ACAPPELLA, from James Howard Lake High School in Montgomery County, MD.

To get started,  associate director Tony Colosimo did a solid warm up session and then it was right to work on songs.  We also included soloists and speaking parts for songs.  Ben Roberts is coordinating the actors for the show and Robyn Murane is coordinating uniforms and costumes.

The chapter meeting period was conducted by communications director Steve Murane.  Of course there were lots of details announced about the show.  Uniforms will be blue suits (without the coats) for the first half with the old red tie, and then the full tux for the second half with a special holiday pocket stuffer created by Robyn.  

Call time at Strathmore is 10 am for singers, and 9 am for set up crews.  Everyone should bring their own lunch as there will be no time to leave the venue for food. Strathmore will provide some drinks and light snacks.

Watch for a detailed email from the leadership team which will also include parking details.

There is another rehearsal this week on Thursday at Scottish Rite at 7.  Each guy is supposed to wrap two boxes with bright shiny paper for the stage decorations.  They can be brought on Thursday and hauled to Strathmore on the chapter truck , thus making it easier for singers on the day of the show.

Coming up soon is the annual pub crawl on Tues. Dec. 10th. For the many new men in the chapter, here is how it works: we assemble in Old Town Alexandria at Market Square (where the fountain and Christmas tree are located) and then walk down King Street and stop and sing two songs at a number of restaurants and fun spots.  Stay tuned as to starting details – such as maybe meeting first at Scottish Rite and forming car pools and distributing the Santa hats. Plus we end the evening with an informal afterglow at one of the spots where we sing.

Then there were details about our second holiday show on Sat. Dec. 21st at 4 pm at Schlesinger. Program ad sales should be done by Nov. 27th and turned into Matt Doniger.

There is a silent auction at this show and every singer is asked to get one gift card or item to sell.  Those donations should go to Randall Eliason.  Liz Birnbaum spoke briefly about using the show flyer to help make your ask for a donation.

Calvin Schnure displayed a sign up board for men to indicate interest in being in a quartet with a goal toward appearing on the fall Harmonizer show.  The board will be on display each week.

Special guest this week was Rick Taylor from the Harmony Foundation Inc. staff (who happens to also be a Harmonizer) to explain how men can help provide future support for singing opportunities in our community and schools. He was eager to talk to new donors who have not joined the team or to talk to guys who might be ready to step up their game and do more.  Already there are many Harmonizers who support the Foundation.

President Shawn Tallant announced the sad news of the passing this week of Mike Everard. Joe and several men spoke about Mike’s contributions to the chapter and to the barbershop harmony world at large.  Services are pending.  He was a 50-year BHS member, helped start the Mt. Vernon Harmony Heritage singers and continued to serve in leadership positions there.  He was a popular emcee for them as well as for us and other chapters. His quartet, THE FRIENDSHP FIRE COMPANY, sang all over the country entertaining and making folks laugh and smile.  He was the one constant member of that foursome. 

Shawn thanked Matt Doniger for taking on coordination of our chapter’s trip to Harmony University (HU) next summer in Nashville.  Members should pay special attention to the email Matt sent out and ONLY REGISTER for HU using the link Matt sent you.

Finally from Shawn, he is eager for suggestions for the chapter major awards that will be given at the Presidents Banquet on Feb. 1st, 2020.

For those of you marking your calendar for 2020 event, there will be another Harmonizer Heat Glow for the whole chapter and their significant others, Saturday evening, January 4th, at 7 pm at Jack and Pat Pitzer’s home - 7801 Suffolk Ct., Alexandria, VA 22315. Casual dress.  Another chance for new and old time members to mix and have some fun. Tag singing in the basement. Everyone brings finger-food hors d' oeuvres or holiday goodies to share. We will make the traditional Heat Glow Grog recipe that has been served at a similar Harmonizer event for over 50 years!! The recipe has been passed down from previous generations of the Harmo family.

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 70th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Looking Back on the Nov. 12th Chapter Meeting and Nov. 11th Veterans Day Event

A good-sized chorus was on the risers on a really cold nite in Virginia.  Associate director Tony Colosimo did vocal warm ups for the singers.  The usual crew of folks had set up the sound and other meeting paraphernalia in advance. The chapter BHS board met at 6 pm.

Everyone was ready to sing with gusto on the songs for the holiday shows. They are sounding terrific – our audiences will be so happy.

Tony thanked all the men who sang on Monday for the Veterans Day ceremony. (See story below.)
He also pointed out that next week there is a rehearsal on Tuesday and on Thursday . For those  who have asked, there is not a rehearsal the nite before the Strathmore performance.

Tony asked for a round of applause to thank  Steve Szyszka for all of his work to help get the learning materials out to the chorus for “Twelve Days of Christmas” during various changes and additions. Later in the evening Steve shared some musical history regarding his beloved Ukraine  with a story about the composer of “Carol of the Bells.” 

And Tony helped us all congratulate Tessa Walker who is a frequent guest at our meetings for her recent win at the Harmony Incorporated contest as Harmony Queen with HOT PURSUIT Quartet. She proudly wore her crown for all of us to share her success.  Her quartet has been part of our youth harmony faculty before and is scheduled to do so again this coming spring.  Our congrats to her! 

Show announcements included requests for some props and ugly sweaters for the shows, and reminders about uniform parts for the performances.  Chorus uniform guru Robyn Murane worked with all the new members to get new uniform parts
President Shawn Tallant announced that Bob Wachter was taken to Fairfax Hospital with pneumonia this evening. 

Shawn also reported other related news from the Harmony Inc. convention that was in Ohio over the weekend.  The 4th place quartet, SWING THEORY, included our previous chorus coach Mo Field.  The local Harmony Inc. chorus, Bella NOVA, under the direction of our former musical director Richard Lewellen placed 7th.  Steve White’s wife Jerri and her sister Debbie sang in MYSTIC CHICKS quartet and placed 16th

Next Shawn saluted out-going conventions coordinator for the chapter, Craig Kujawa, and recognized Nick Murane who will step into that position when Craig moves to his next military assignment.

Finally Shawn recognized Bruce Roehm for his having completed an Ironman Triathlon this past weekend.

Chapter secretary Chris Buechler spoke to the chorus about the need to pay dues on time (and therefore save money). He presented membership renewal cards to Aaron Simoneau for 6 years, Clark Chesser for 10 years, Shawn Tallant for 13 years, Bob Blair for 20 years, Bob Mattes for 21 years, Mike Schwartz for 25 years, and Don Harrington for 40 years!  The milestone year men also get a BHS lapel pin signifying the year from the chapter. 

Ben Watsky introduced two guests with us for this week including JoYo on the risers and Peggy, Peter Kempf’s mom, from St. Louis. 

After the break, Jacob Broude conducted a session on learning from watching and listening to other performances and comparing our work with other choruses.

Congratulations to the two quartets from our chapter that recently got word they had made the cut and will be competing in the International Seniors Quartet contest at the midwinter BHS convention in Jacksonville, FL, in January 2010 - SILVER ALERT (with Rick Savage, Mike Edison, Will Cox, Steve Murane) and  PERSUASION (with Mike Kelly). 

Again a reminder about buying gift cards for the holiday season.  Review the recent email from Craig Kujawa who coordinates the chapter’s scrip sales efforts (and helps earn a sizable chunk of cash for the  chapter).  Speak to Craig or e-mail him at scrip@harmonizers org if you need help setting up your personal account at This is the time to order gift cards to send to relatives, to use in paying for a holiday trip, to use as surprise gifts for your office team or employees, or to have on hand to use to cover special holiday purchases for hams, turkeys, trees, or egg nog.
Important Dates for holiday orders:
Plastic Card orders placed by 11/13 will be delivered at rehearsal 11/19.
Plastic Card orders placed by 11/27 will be delivered at rehearsal 12/3.
Plastic Card orders placed by 12/11 will be delivered at rehearsal 12/17.
ScripNow and ReloadNow purchases can be done at any time (no physical delivery required).
Lastly, if you are looking for a rewarding way to take on more responsibility in the chapter, contact Craig privately if you would like to coordinate this program starting in 2020 (when he leaves for Djibouti).

For Veterans Day, about 30 of us sang for the Nov. 11th event as part of the city of Alexandria Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Department and the “Friends of Rocky Versace” 18th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony in Alexandria at 1:00 PM. The approximately 1-hour Ceremony honored not only the 68 Alexandrians who died or remain Missing in Action (MIA) during the Vietnam War, but all veterans.  The Program will include patriotic songs (sung by the Alexandria Harmonizers), reading the names of Alexandria's 68 Vietnam War Fallen Heroes, recognition of all veterans in attendance, a tribute to Captain "Rocky" Versace, acknowledgment of Gold Star family members in the audience, a wreath laying by Captain Versace's USMA 1959 Classmates and the singing of "God Bless America."  

Additionally, Vietnam War era veterans at the event were given the Department of Defense Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin.  The Vietnam era is defined by DOD as Nov. 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975. Ten Harmonizers went forward to receive the lapel pin – Jack Cameron, Clyde Crusenberry, Chris Huber, Bob Rhome, Carl Kauffmann, Shawn Tallant, Bob Blair, Howard Nestlerode, Don Thompson, and Jack Pitzer.
Tony was director and sang the “Bring Him Home” solo with Chuck Hunter directing. President Shawn welcomed attendees to stand during their military branch song while we sang the “Armed Forces Medley.” It was great to see our friends from the Mayor’s office in the front row for this event.

Dean Rust gets credit for suggesting to chapter leadership that we do this gig in Alexandria.

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 70th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Looking Back on the Oct. 29th and Nov. 5th Chapter Meetings 

(Thanks to Jerry Jayjohn for taking notes for the two chapter meetings while YeEd was gone to the Midwest.  Jack Pitzer)

On October 29th the chapter came together for its regular chapter meeting.  We started with a warm up and timing exercise with associate director Tony Colosimo, going over rhythms. Then continued a vocal warm-up lead by Jason Lee, after that Tony directed us through the “Twelve Days of Christmas” and all the various iterations of the ‘five baritones’ section, and reviewing the new fun lyrics for the piece.

Tony then dismissed the large chorus into sections to review a few pieces for 15-20 minutes, then we came back as a full chorus and sang through the songs we had reviewed in sections. 

The normal business portion was conducted by Steve Murane, going over announcements, with some comments by president Shawn Tallant. Four new Harmonizers were introduced to the chapter - Peter Kempf, John Sifuentes, Duncan Peacock, and Devin Gerzof. Welcome all!  Then Ben Watsky introduced the two guests, and we sang the welcome song for them.

After break, we split into small groups and reviewed “Jingle Bell/Sleigh Ride,” “Toyland,” “Carol of the Bells,” and “Gloria,” with rotating leaders of Jason, Tony, Terry Reynolds, and Reed Livergood. After about 30 minutes the entire chorus returned and we reviewed “Mary Did You Know,” and closed with “Jingle Bells/Sleigh Ride.” There was about 70 men in attendance and a great fellowship with everyone welcoming the new members.

 On Tuesday November 5th, the guys came together for their regular chapter meeting at the Scottish Rite Temple. To open the rehearsal, associate director Tony Colosimo lead the chorus through a quick vocal warm up and jumped right into our rehearsal. We ran through the “Twelve Days of Christmas” several times, working extra on the ‘five baritone’ section.
Before break, we had our regular business meeting, going over announcements for upcoming rehearsals and performances. Ben Watsky announced our guests and we welcomed them in song. We had about a 10 minute break before returning.
When the guys returned to the risers, Tony took the chorus through a couple of songs, before breaking the chorus into small groups. As in previous weeks, the four groups went to different areas, with rotating leaders moving from group to group going over set sections of selected numbers. Once all the groups had a chance with each leader, we assembled back in the auditorium.
We worked on “Gloria,” focusing on the small group part at the beginning. We closed the nite by singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”  Even though the main chorus was dismissed most guys watched those in the Veteran’s Day performance group rehearse their repertoire, showing great brotherhood and unity among the guys.
 In other news from the Sunshine District contest and convention, YeEd received word that former member Harold Nantz, and original tenor of VAUDEVILLE, was named to the Sunshine District Hall of Fame and was given his 50-year pin.  Chapter member Keith Jones and former member Bob Thames sang with the Sunshine Statesmen seniors chorus in the contest and qualified to compete at the upcoming BHS midwinter convention in FL.  Joe Cerutti was music judge for that district contest.
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 70th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Friday, October 25, 2019

Looking Back on the Oct. 22nd Chapter Meeting 

It was raining “cats and dogs” at chapter meeting time this week, and the NATS were set to play the Astros at 8:08 pm.  But a big chorus was on the risers anyway.  

We met in the cafeteria this week and the crew set up risers down there.  Associate director Tony Colosimo did the warm ups.  Then director Joe Cerutti took over and thanked everyone for the great performance, and for joining in the fellowship of the Men’s singing event last Wednesday.   Joe confirmed there is an extra/optional rehearsal this Thursday, Oct. 24, and then again on Wed. Oct. 30th and Nov. 6th. Those three are at 7 pm at Scottish Rite Temple (SRT). 

Then it was off to work on the holiday songs.  The chorus sang a couple songs thru and then dispersed to all parts of the SRT for sectional work on those songs. One was “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which the chapter is working to make a funny production number and we are creating our own words.

After the mid-way break in the singing, communications director Steve Murane held the business meeting. He also made announcements about upcoming calendar changes such as the No Meeting on Nov. 26th but instead a meeting on Thurs. Nov. 21st

Steve also reports that there is a 10% discount for Harmonizers buying Strathmore concert tickets – he will get us the code.

Volunteer coordinator Robyn Murane is working to collect contact info for significant others of chorus members.  Go see her with the info. 

Liz Birnbaum explained the plans for a silent auction in the lobby before our Dec. 21st holiday show at Schlesinger.  Chorus members are asked to get donated items, gift cards, service pledges and such.  They can be brought to Randall Eliason on Tuesday nites.  

Mike Edison is eager to hear from chapter members interested in forming a quartet and who are eager for some help in doing so.  See him.

President Shawn Tallant explained the recent check for $4,329.59 received by the chapter from Harmony Foundation Inc.  It represents the generous support of HFI by chapter members who selected our chapter in their Donor Choice option for donations made to HFI from January 1 - June 30, 2019.  As you can see, in addition to supporting the good work of the Harmony Foundation, this program provides an important source of revenue for our chapter.  

Ben Watsky welcome our singing guests this week – Peter, JoYo, Duncan and John who have been with us before, and Mark who was visiting from the Pittsburg PA Chorus.

After the break, Joe took the chorus thru the whole holiday show set.  After each song he asked how guys felt they did on a scale of 1-10, and how many weeks it would take to get to 10. The show is sounding GREAT!

In other news, stay tuned for a message from Craig Kujawa promoting participation in our Scrip sales program.  This is the time of year when you can help your chapter and yourself – get gift cards for holiday hams, gifts, travel, sports equipment or movies.  

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 70th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd