Thursday, February 6, 2020

Looking Back on the Feb. 1st, 2020 Presidents’ Award Banquet and Board Installation

This year’s Presidents’ Award Banquet was at the Lee Center on Saturday nite, Feb. 1st .  This was our 46th such event. Over 120 of the Harmonizer family attended the buffet banquet catered by Maggiano’s. 

Our 2019 chapter president Shawn Tallant served as master of ceremonies for this annual event to celebrate our achievements for the past year, honor some of those who helped make those achievements possible, and install our 2020 officers and board.  Social hour was from 6 –7 pm, then Shawn invited folks to find their seats at the tables and enjoy the buffet.  

After the meal, Shawn thanked others who had helped with the banquet event including Steve Murane and Jack Pitzer for the printed program and year in review; Alan Wile for helping get all the awards for the nite; Dave Branstetter for help with tickets and reservations, and Clyde Crusenberry for the caterer, bar set up including the fun Scotch bar tasting in recognition of our 2019 trip to Scotland. He also thanked all the family members who helped with the set up for the event, decorated tables and brought supplies for the meal.

Before too much program began, SILVER ALERT with Rick Savage, Mike Edison, Will Cox and Steve Murane, sang for us.  The really “ugly” sweater from their appearance at the holiday show managed to find its way to the banquet and the cheering crowd made Mike wear it again.

Each year this event is hosted by the past presidents of the chapter – thus the name Presidents’ banquet.  Presidents attending this year included Shawn Tallant, 2018-2019; Randall Eliason, 2016-17;Terry Reynolds, 2014-15; Alan Wile, 2013, 2007, and 1997-98; Steve Murane, 2011-12; Brad Jones, 2009;; Terry Jordan, 1984-85; and Jack Pitzer, 1973 (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).

Shawn lead a toast to the member added to our Memorial Roll in 2019: Mike Everard. Former members Justin “Sunny” Shook, and Arthur Louis also died during the year.

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.”

Leaders of our sister corporation, AH Inc, were also introduced at the banquet including president Bruce Roehm, secretary Bob Faherty, treasurer Terry Reynolds; board members Chuck Hunter, Dave Kohls, and Marie Muscella (not present). Shawn Tallant serves as past president of the BHS chapter, and Stan Quick serves as current BHS president on the AH Inc. board.

Shawn shared. “2019 was an exciting year with some wonderful musical and artistic achievements of which you are all aware and which are summarized in your program.”  [See the recently released “Looking Back on the 2019 Harmonizers Events and Milestones.”]

For years our friends and family have given us tremendous support through volunteer activities. It takes a lot to keep a group like the Harmonizers going.  Our volunteers help with membership, help throw parties and events, run the house and usher at our shows, selling snacks, CDs, tickets, taking donations, work on fundraisers, work on the silent auction, and sew and mend costumes to help us deal with any last-minute wardrobe issues.  It is no exaggeration to say we could not succeed in all we do without their help. Shawn expressed appreciation to all of the volunteers.

Under our new structure much of the day-to-day operation of the chapter has been moved from the duties of the BHS Chapter Board of Directors and given to an operations team composed of directors with various responsibilities.  The “Ops Team” for 2020 was recognized:

Executive Director:       Randall Eliason, Music/Artistic Director:  Joe Cerutti, Jr., Finance Director AH Inc:  Carl Kauffmann, Finance Director BHS:  Dave Welter, Volunteers Director:  Robyn Murane, Communications Director:            Steve Murane, Contest Director:  Nick Murane, Education Director:  Sheryl Berlin, Development Director: Nick Leiserson, Membership Director:  Jacob Broude, Shows Director:  Joe Cerutti, Sr., Operations Director:  Gary Cregan, and Historian: Jack Pitzer.

The chapter invited Bob Eckman (and his wife Maggie), a Harmonizer and current president of Mid-Atlantic District (M-AD), to install our 2020 board: President – Stan Quick, Secretary – Chris Buechler, Treasurer – Al Herman, Members at Large –Clyde Crusenberry, Ben Watsky and Frank Shipp, and Immediate Past President – Shawn Tallant.

About this point in the night, BETTER TOGETHER with Tony and Elizabeth Colosimo and Andrew and Heather Havens sang for us.

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

This first award was presented to Krissi Folsom and Rob Langston. For the past three years they have stepped up and volunteered for every Harmonizer show.  Rob has taken professional photographs for the chapter. Krissi has handled our show programs and recently joined the social media marketing team. Both served as co-producers for the annual show celebrating our 70th anniversary. 

The second recipient was Martin Banks. During his many years as a Harmonizer, he filled many leadership positions such as vice president for community service or marketing/public relations. Most recently Martin was chapter historian/archivist creating informative historical displays for many chapter events.  He also organized the history committee operation with specific duties assigned to each member. He also initiated the process to digitize, record and organize historical materials the chapter has in its collection.  Martin also served in leadership positions outside the chapter for the BHS public relations organization – PROBE, and he earned a Society-wide Public Relations Officer of the Year award.

The third recipient was Robyn Murane. She is a volunteer leader as exemplified by her work as chapter uniform officer.  She has created a uniform inventory, implemented the new chapter uniform policy, and reduced the amount of storage for old costumes and uniform parts.  She has also become the volunteer coordinator for the chapter and helps organize and wrangle volunteers for shows to staff the lobby, manage sales, and help customers.

The fourth recipient was Dean Rust. On the community front, Dean has contacted many Alexandria businesses to request their support for the Harmonizer programs. His outreach contributed to our alliance with the Alexandria Sister City Committee and our performance in Dundee Scotland. He has also led our outreach to veterans that might benefit from our music. Additionally he has spent countless hours identifying grant opportunities for the Harmonizers to obtain outside funding.  His work includes putting together complete applications for several grants and he is personally responsible for all dollars in grant funding the chapter has received since 2016.

The fifth award was presented to Dixie Kennett and Chris Buechler who are preparing to step down from their current positions. Dixie has been a volunteer for many aspects of chapter shows, particularly lighting. She serves as a member of the membership support team and regularly takes attendance at meetings. Chris is a past president and is currently completing his record-setting term of 25 years as our BHS chapter secretary.  He also has made important contributions to the contest and judging program of the BHS around the nation..

Next Shawn honored these recipients of the six chapter memorial awards given each year and listed here with a description of the award.

New Note of the Year Award
Given to a Harmonizer who has contributed outstanding service to the Chapter in his first year of membership. 

2019 recipient – Jacob Broude  Since coming to the chapter, this new member has been a strong singer/performer on the risers and in the front row, has sung with TBD and helped train some of us “old guys” in some of the complex choreo for the fall show. He recently has assumed the duties of Membership Director on the Ops Team.

Dick Hall Spirit of Harmony Award
Presented in memory of Dick Hall, a long time member (1965-2018) whose friendliness and encouragement inspired all who knew him. Given to a Harmonizer who during the year best exemplified Dick’s fundamental qualities of congeniality and good character and who worked hardest to encourage participation in vocal harmony by chapter visitors and members.

2019 recipient – Walt Page – He was a member of the performing chorus for about 25 years, and was a long-time quartet member with RIVERSIDE ASSEMBLY. Stepping away a few years ago, he returned as a member about five years ago in a non-singing role. He is always present at chapter meetings, helps promote the 50/50 sales, and is a major show ticket salesman. Most recently he has leveraged his community contacts to ensure the Harmonizers have been prominent in local newspaper coverage.

Harmonizer Honor Award
Given to a Harmonizer for service which is specifically  above and beyond the usual service expected of members during the past year. 

2019 recipient – Gary Cregan This relatively new member can always be counted on to do whatever needs to be done for the chapter. He has added his energy to the tasks of the chapter’s director of operation including significant improvements in riser maintenance, inventory management and most recently pushed for and acquired  the replacement of the Harmo truck.

Ibbianne and Wilbur Sparks Award
Given to recognize the important contribution of Harmonizer family teams to the success and well-being of the Chapter.  The team can be a Harmonizer and any family member or significant other.

2019 recipient –  Jerri and Steve White.  He is a 40-year-plus member, a strong bass singer forever on the front row, and a member of multiple champion quartets. He was a major contributor to chapter shows.  In recent years he has prepared an extensive top-notch chapter annual report. Jerri is also a barbershop singer and has supported the chapter in many ways over the years.  She appeared in several annual shows, reviewed and helped Steve with over a dozen annual show scripts.  She has been stage manager for the chapter, has made props and uniforms for shows and contests, and volunteered at our youth harmony events. 

Oz Newgard Memorial Award

 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 year. 

2019 recipient – Jason Lee this year’s recipient is an active member of the music team and advisor to the music leadership. He stepped into the baritone section leader position this year He also helps with chapter warm ups, and has worked with the music team on the current re-envisioning of our rehearsal process to make it more responsive to the needs of members. 

Harmonizer Memorial Award
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

2019 – Craig Kujawa The Harmonizer Memorial award is our highest honor, bestowed only on a Harmonizer who has devoted himself unselfishly in rendering outstanding service to the chapter over a length of time in a variety of areas.  This year’s winner embodies selfless dedication to the needs of the Harmonizers.

In past years, he has served on the BHS chapter board. As contest director on the Ops Team, Craig has ensured the Harmonizers were prepared to compete at all levels of competition for the past six years. His thorough planning efforts and communication to the members make it possible for all members to get tickets, rooms, make transportation plans.  He also helped the music team schedule convention rehearsal spaces.  He created two successful programs to get members into better physical shape prior to International contests. He also was chapter SCRIP salesman as he believed members could help raise funds for the chapter when they buy or shop. As a chorus performer, he was front row captain.

Captain Kujawa has just deployed to Djibouti for a year of service.  Bruce Roehm accepted on his behalf. President Shawn had Mike Kelly film this part of the ceremony and that video was relayed to Craig the next day and surprised him at his new duty station. 

After the banquet, guests were invited to dance to the music of Riptide band which includes Chris Huber, Kellen Hertz, Joe Cerutti Sr., and Joel Golden.  

 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

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