Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Looking Back on the Feb 14th, 2020 Singing Valentines
The Harmonizers’ Singing Valentine program for 2020 was designed to get quartet performances in many venues and in front of many audiences in the greater Alexandria area.  It is part of the chapter’s strategic plan to expand our “brand” in all aspects of the metro area.
Chapter leaders working in community relations such as Clyde Crusenberry, and in communications such as Steve Murane made contacts and assigned the quartets.  Music team member Calvin Schnure formed the quartets needed to fill all the performances.
Here are the reports from the quartets who made the appearances.
Quartet No. 1 consisted of Steve Szyszka, Rob Barnovsky, Matt Doniger, and Brian Ammerman (who prepared this report of the quartet’s day). 

We sang for four different centers/communities between 10am and 12:30 on Valentine’s morning. This included singing for 20-30 people at St. Martin du Porres Senior Center; for 10 lovely ladies at Mount Vernon Rec. Center; for 10 residents at Paul Spring Retirement community where our gracious host was Clyde Crusenberry’s niece Lynne; and finally for four separate groups of lunching residents at The Fountains at Washington House. 

Our repertoire for the first stop consisted only of “Heart of My Heart”, and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”  For the other locations we added in “I’ll Be Seeing You”, which delighted and moved people, and we made “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” a sing-along which put smiles on lots of faces.

This year’s experience was good for the heart, and a good time for all involved, residents and singers alike.

Reports for quartets No.2 and No. 3 were prepared by Dean Rust.  In all locations, quartets sang “Heart of My Heart” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” with one exception when quartet 2 sang “My Wild Irish Rose” in response to a determined audience member who wanted one more.
Quartet No. 2 included Mario Sengco, tenor; Chuck Hunter, lead; Ken Rub, bari; and Dean Rust, bass. They sang four gigs set up by Clyde and confirmed by Dean. The quartet was organized and gigs assigned by Calvin. Here is where they sang:

Charles Houston Recreation Center in Alexandria (12:30) – Sang for 20 women who call themselves the “Crunch Bunch.”  Met Vanessa Greene, who runs the Senior Programs at the Center and is John Greene’s sister.  The ladies looked spectacular in red as befits the day and were very appreciative. We were offered lunch but had to decline.

Mayor’s Office (1:05) – Sang for the Mayor’s staff at City Hall in Old Town Alexandria, and the people in the 5th floor lunch room.  The Mayor’s administrative aide is clearly a fan and was quite taken with our version of “Heart of My Heart.”

Lee Center Adult Day Services (1:30) – Sang for about 25 adults, male and female.   Smiles all around as we sang, an especially warm reception.  Staff very welcoming.

The Fairfax (2:15)– A long trek down Route 1 to this facility near Ft. Belvoir.  Reported to the Community Center and sang in 5 locations for residents and staff. 
--For about 10 in the lobby including passersby who stopped and a woman who seemed as much taken with the four “handsome” men (in white ties and tails) as she was with our singing. 
--For 10 in the lunch room (lunch was over but for a few stragglers). 
--For 10 playing cards in a sun drenched alcove with passersby who stopped. 
--For 10 in the assisted-living section, who we left with cries of “encore.” 
--For 15 in the “memory” section including a lady quite agitated as we entered, but who calmed and moved up front as we sang.  The power of music to reach people seemed especially apparent in the memory unit.

Quartet No. 3 included Aaron Simoneau, tenor; Brian Miller, lead; Ken Rub, bari; and Dean Rust, bass. Here is where they sang:

Six gigs at restaurants in the Del Ray area between 6:30 and 7:30 pm, also set up and confirmed by Dean, with information from Clyde, and the quartet organized and gigs assigned by Calvin.
In all cases, restaurants turned down ambient music before we sang.

Before the first stop, we dropped into a chocolate store to sing through the songs.  It had no customers at the time.  Staff took note, smiled from ear to ear, and presented us each with a piece of chocolate as we departed.

The Evening Star – for around 20 customers and staff.  The manager, cooks and waiters stood along the back wall soaking it in.

Bob Vivant CafĂ© – for around 10 patrons and staff, including 2 small children who seemed both pleased and annoyed at different times.

St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub – for around 10 patrons who seemed not to be annoyed by our disruption of their conversation and laptop work and cheerfully applauded.

Holy Cow – for about 25 patrons who allowed themselves time away from their monstrous burgers to listen to Brian Miller’s romantic lead.

Pork Barrel BBQ – for about 35 patrons who came to attention at the sound of the pitch pipe and enthusiastically welcomed both songs.  In between the songs we led the crowd in singing happy birthday to the bartender.  Best reception of the night.

Tios Grill – Biggest crowd at 60, but also most challenging venue given crowd size and noise.  Sang in two locations.  The strolling guitar man gracefully withdrew as Brian belted out a strong lead on both songs. 

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 71st year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Looking Back on the Feb 11th, 2020 Put Together and Chapter Meeting
The chapter meeting place was full of singing from about 6:15 til we left at the end of everything.  All the quartets planning to sing in the 46th annual Put Together Quartet Contest were meeting (some for the first time) and going thru their songs.
Associate director Tony Colosimo did warm ups on the risers to kick off the nite.  Then there were sectionals to work on a new song “Never Fully Dressed Without a Song.” The chorus had gotten a copy of the song with notes and markings from the music team via Groupanizer. The section leaders all had a lesson plan determined by the music team to cover the same parts of the song – Brian Ammerman for the tenors, Reed Livergood for the leads, Jason Lee for the baritones, and Tony for the basses.
After this work period, the chapter meeting time was conducted by communications director Steve Murane.  He reminded all members that our Youth Harmony Festival will be on Saturday, March 28th at Scottish Rite Temple. Members were asked to use social media to spread the word to prospective student groups.
President Stan Quick reported that Frank Fedarko’s sister died recently, and that Krissi Folsom fell this week and broke her arm at her chorus meeting.
He also reported that Clyde Crusenberry, Calvin Schnure, and Dean Rust have set up the plans for the Singing Valentine quartets to make appearances in the greater Metro area.  Three quartets will be making the appearance for citizen groups, Alexandria officials, senior centers and retirement places, schools and public events.
Finally, Stan reminded members to consider submitting nominations for the BHS new awards to be presented at a Gala at the International convention in LA in July.
Secretary Chris Buechler presented membership renewal cards to Dylan Smith for 2 years, Ben Roberts for 7 years, Tyler Carpenter for 9 years, and Kevin McKenzie for 21 years.
Membership director Jacob Broude announced plans for the “first of monthly recreational events for Harmonizer Friends and Family” to be held on Friday, Feb. 21st at Caboose in Merrifield. From 6 – 8:30 pm or so.  2918 Eskridge Rd., Fairfax, VA 22031. Stay tuned for more details.
 Ben Watsky welcomed back Michael Berkson for his third visit, and then the nine members of the Georgetown Chimes for their first visit who came to help us with the quartet contest.
After a break time (used by many of the quartets for another run thru) and some time to set up the sound equipment and judges table, the chapter members reassembled in the auditorium of the SRT for the 46th annual Wilbur Sparks Memorial Put Together Contest.  Troy Hillier was emcee for the event and shared stories about Wilbur (often called Dr. Put for his fun approach to organizing a chapter quartet contest and for getting new guys singing in quartets that had not done so before.  Wilbur’s fun approach to create crazy names for the quartets seems to carry on as some of this year’s were wild – Dave’s in Charge of That, Per Four Mens, Ives Gotta Plan, We Probably Shouldn’t Do This, and Whisky Switch.
There were two categories and prizes for top three quartets in each – comedy and regular. Judges were Georgetown Chimes singers Chase, Jack, John and Dylan.  Jack Pitzer was panel chairman. We even had a mic tester quartet.
When all 17 quartets had finished, the whole crowd adjourned to the cafeteria for refreshments and announcement of contest winners by Troy and Matt Doniger, who was ‘Dr. Put’ for this year’s event.  Each singer in the top three quartets in each category received a plaque.
JOCKULAR STRAPS - Ammerman, Eliason, Hillier, Chesser
ADAM SHEPARD AND HIS LITTLE LAMBS - Gerzof, Shepard, Lee, Carpenter
FRONT ROW OLD GUYS (FROG) - Reynolds, Eliason, Rub, White

ALEXANDRIA COMMON - Gerzof, Livergood, Schnure, Peacock
AT EASE - Lazear, McKenzie, Cameron, Golden
42ND YEET - Gerzof, Roberts, Colosimo, Peacock
To finish up the nite, the Chimes sang several songs for us and were cheered loudly by the men of the Harmonizer chorus.
We concluded the fun nite with “Keep the Whole World Singing.”
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 71st year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Looking Back on the Feb. 7th Show with the Yale Whiffenpoofs 

A full-house audience was on hand for the 7:30 pm Friday, Feb. 7th show when the Harmonizers presented The Yale Whiffenpoofs at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.  This is the 101st  year for the famous college a cappella group, and the chapter is pleased to host them again in Alexandria.

The Harmonizer chorus was directed by associate director Tony Colosimo and they sang five of the great Broadway show songs from our fall show for the mostly new-to-us audience.

The chorus walked in and positioned themselves on the risers and after a moment’s silence, Tony began the opening solo for “Heart of Music.” This opener set the stage for great audience responses to every song. Drew Fuller also sang a solo in the first song.

Ben Roberts told the great story in his solo for “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” then when Brian Ammermann tried to cheer up Ben, they set the stage for a fun song the audience liked, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

The TBD ensemble sang “If I Were Gay” from Avenue Q with Tony teasing Noah Van Gilder for this song.

Jon Frank sang the powerful solo message with the chorus on “For Good.”

And the Harmonizers finished their portion of the show with “Circle of Life” adding percussion by Bob Blair, solo by Tony and all the ribbons and choreo for the finale.

Terry Reynolds welcomed the audience and invited men who like to sing to visit with any member after the show.

A riser crew arrived early to set up along with Mike Kelly and crew for the sound equipment. During the chorus warm up, a crew of volunteers sold tickets, welcomed guests including some folks from local senior citizen facilities, ushered and helped the guests trade in their online paperwork for tickets. Volunteers were family members and chapter members - Aideen Mannion, Rebecca Conner, Lydia Golden, Ginny Wells, Jack Pitzer, Walt Page, Kathy Kauffmann, Janet Cerutti, Naida Harrington, Isabella Salmi, Nate Balke, Alex Chen, Amber Friedman, Dixie Kennett, and Krissi Folsom.  Robyn Murane helped coordinate that crew and coordinated the performers getting to the stage for sound check and show times.  Shows chairman Joe Cerutti Sr. helped with logistics including hosting our guest artists. Rob Langston took photos for the chapter communications team.

The Whiffenpoofs are on a tour of US cities and sang a great mix of their favorites.  Most of the fourteen singers had a solo or specialty piece to perform.  Ben Watsky, a Harmonizer who is also an alum of the Whiffenpoofs, joined other of their alums in the audience to sing the group’s well known “The Whiffenpoof Song” as a show finale.

The chorus sang about 30 minutes and the guests sang about one hour.

It was great to see several members and former members in the audience. The audience was invited to complete a survey online with a handout flyer and survey form given to concert attendees.

A number of members and some of the Whiffs enjoyed an afterglow at Chadwicks in Old Town 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 71st year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Friday, February 7, 2020

Looking Back on the Feb 4th, 2020 Chapter Meeting
This was the fourth week into the new Harmonizer rehearsal variation pilot plan – this week was labeled “Full Chorus Rehearsal.” We met at Scottish Rite Temple  and were able to use the entire building since heat system was working again.       
There was the usual warm up time with singers on the risers.  Then director Joe Cerutti welcomed special guest and former member, Sean Devine, who came down from Hershey PA, to see all his friends in the chapter and speak briefly about Harmony Foundation. 
Following that, Joe explained the plans for tonite (including that coach Cy Wood was unable to make the trip this week as previously announced).
The first major period of chorus time was on the risers to review visual performance plans for show songs.  The chorus was facing a screen where Mike Kelly was able to project videos of the songs in mirror image, as well as able to slow down the tempo so singers could see the moves better.  As they improved on the moves, he was able to increase back to normal temp.
It was a effective review technique and a great help for brand new members.  Joe first worked on “Circle of Life” – the African chant portion.  Then he moved on to “Heart and Music” and finally to “Brotherhood of Man.”  Following the mirror screen work, associate director Tony Colosimo directed the songs that will be sung by the chorus for the Whiffenpoofs show on Fri. Feb. 7th. Bob Blair added rhythm to “Heart and Music,” Jon Frank sang the solo in “For Good,” and Ben Roberts sang the solo for “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.”
Joe also explained how members could use the new rehearsal plan to finish work on “42nd Street” or could move on to “Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.” Members have a variety of options in this regard. In the end, the chorus will not sing the two new songs until Feb. 25th and then only those approved by the music team will be invited to the risers for that run thru.  (In other words, singers should be working to get an approval with their listeners or at least know where they stand in that regard.)
Joe also confirmed the chapter’s plan to compete at the Southern Division contest in Baltimore (Crowne Plaza Inner Harbor).  The quartet contest is on Fri eve June 5th and the chorus contest is Sat morning, June 6th.  The plan is to sing “42nd Street” with choreo from Cy Wood, plus a surprise ballad.
Joe spoke about the Harmony University plans this summer so that guys could start finalizing their registration and travel to Nashville.
Finally he outlined the plans for the rest of this week’s meeting after the announcements.  The second half of the nite will be four optional sessions – each of them offered twice.  So guys could attend any they wanted – even go to the same one twice.
Options included (1) singing Polecat songs, (2) learning about Harmonizer history from videos of past performances, (3) technology and apps to use to be better singers, or (4) practicing with your quartet for the upcoming chapter quartet contest.
Communications director Steve Murane managed the announcement period for this week. He started with some details about the Whiffenpoof show for Friday.  The uniform will be the black casual camp shirt and jeans. Chorus call time is 6 pm.  A riser crew was solicited. Non members and guests are welcome to attend. Tickets are $30.
The 46th annual Put Together Quartet Contest will be held during the second half of the Feb 11th meeting.  A surprise judging team will chose winners of comedy quartets or regular quartets. Each quartet only sings one song.  There are some rules – mostly about singers who have won district  or such that must sing a different part. Matt Doniger is Dr. Put (as is the custom, he has put several men together that wanted to be in a quartet) and has the rules if you wanna know.  He tells YeEd that quartets who don’t provide a quartet name may be surprised! There will be refreshments that nite too!
Don Thompson met with guys who had requested shirts from the Scotland trip.
Sean Devine shared about some news about giving to the Harmony Foundation.  (Recently the Foundation released info that the Alexandria Chapter ranks 34th among all BHS chapters in the first quarter for our giving – 191 average members, 68 of them made contributions which is 36%.)
President Stan Quick announced that long-time member Jerry Kindred died a few weeks ago while in Home Hospice.  He most recently had been also singing with the Harmony Heritage Singers.
Stan also suggested that members of the chapter are encouraged to submit award applications for the BHS Gala Awards for outstanding member, outstanding ensemble, innovator, or ambassador. Any member may submit a form (available from BHS website).
Stan shared how he and past president Shawn Tallant told Craig Kujawa about his having been named winner of the Memorial Award at the banquet last Saturday.  The video made by Mike Kelly was sent to Craig on Sunday and he responded about his surprise and pride at having been considered for the award (our highest personal award given in the chapter).
Secretary Chris Buechler presented membership renewal cards to Jon Frank for 4 years and Adam Afifi for 5 years.  Chris reports he also has mailed cards to Keith Jones for 42 years, Jorge Acevedo for 20 years, Kris Zinkievich for 20 years, and Dale Bird for 13 years. These member live outside the DC area.
Membership director Jacob Broude welcomed Michael Breckson for his second visit to the chorus.
Last week, Randall announced that BETTER TOGETHER, a mixed quartet with Tony and Elizabeth Colosimo and Andrew and Heather Havens, will be competing at the Mid-Atlantic Harmony Sweeps A Cappella Festival on Sat. Feb. 22 at the Birchmere starting at 7:30 pm. Tickets are going fast, and are available online now at Ticketmaster.  All seats are General Admission, first come-first seated.  The competition is always intense but having a house full of fans always makes a positive impression on the judges! Besides – those of us who have gone in other years will confess it is a fun nite for all who attend. The Birchmere is at 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. in Alexandria 22315.
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 71st year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd