Monday, June 8, 2009

Looking Back on June 6-7, 2009 Retreat for International

Looking Back on June 6-7, 2009 Retreat for International

(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 with Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter members. —Ye Ed.)

Wow! This year’s retreat was a powerful one for helping the chorus prepare for their International performance in Anaheim, for helping us develop camaraderie, for helping us get to know each other better, and to help welcome three more new members.

One new tradition that might emerge from the weekend will be the idea that it is really fun to go up on Friday nite, get there and relax and enjoy the Irish Pub in town!

But Saturday morning is when most of the troops arrived – over 80 singers – to meet retreat chairman, Chuck McKeever and his team alongside the Harmo van where we were issued our keys and directions and retreat leaflet. The housing at McDaniel College in Westminster is pretty comfortable – tho I can’t imagine sleeping on those beds every nite. The chow was plentiful too.

Our terrific coach and teacher was Dr. David Wright. This is his second retreat with us. One neat thing about his time with us was how he wove musical lessons into his reasons for making changes including barbershop history and arrangement techniques that make the song singable and meaningful. Our coach had fine remarks about Clay Hines’ arrangement of “You Tell Me Your Dream.”

Best of all he gave us new steps to climb to make our performances stronger and more meaningful for audiences (and judges).

Director Joe was certainly a key to making the weekend a success and to keep us learning and gaining from our time with David. The assistant directors were a strong part of the music team for warm ups and sectional training. The visual team helped the singers get more and more comfortable with the plan for both songs as well as were open to new ideas to expand our plan.

The terrific Harmonizer front row developed a whole new finale for the uptune that we can’t wait to present to an audience!! Ye Ed won’t reveal the details here – folks in Alexandria area should plan to come to our meeting place, Durant Rec Center on Cameron St., Tues. nite June 26th for our International sendoff and open rehearsal to see it.

Anyone who knows much about the Alexandria Chapter would not be surprised that during lunch on Sat. there were groups of guys working at lunch tables all around the cafeteria. Front row guys planning, the Class of ’09 planning, a nominating committee planning, basses planning how to add more, and a committee of guys planning for our week in Anaheim.

The music team used a variety of teaching ideas during the work sessions on Sat. such as having bari/lead duet on the ballad, bass/tenor duet. Or mini choruses of guys with birthdays from Jan – June, or July – Dec. to sing for each other. Chairman McKeever invited Jack Pitzer, Brian Ammerman and Chris Huber to make remarks at the end of each of the work sessions. Their themes were about the Harmonizer culture for hard work, team work, fun work and personal work.

The guys got to sing a couple of David’s tags that he taught, including our traditional retreat closing tag, FRIENDS. Chuck Hunter taught a tag and incorporated lessons we worked on all weekend.

As is our chapter tradition, all the new guys who will compete in their first International, the Class of ’09, was welcomed and often checked for their blue bandanas. And their skit during the Sat. nite party was GREAT! They did the spring tonic in 2-minutes and made us laugh til we cried. Lots of stars among that bunch for sure.

This year’s party had some fun new features like playing tapes of past chorus performances, or tapes of individuals like Eric Wallen at age 7 singing with his Dad, Mike, on an Army Chorus holiday show. Then the gang had a Rock Band contest – sort of like karaoke. Plus we had chow and drinks. And there was tag singing til about 2!

Sunday morning we checked out, and after warm ups, went back to work to review lessons learned on Sat.

The retreat wrap up included thanks to those mentioned above and to Scott Kahler and Dennis Ritchey for sound set up, and Mark Klostermeyer for chorus manager duties.

Concluding remarks from Director Joe and then from David Wright put a solid wrap on a great Harmonizer tradition.

Everyone grabbed some risers or sound stuff and hauled it all out to load the Harmo van. And we were off to our homes back in the DC area.

Until Next Time – editorjack!

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