Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Looking Back on May 26th Chapter Meeting

Looking Back on May 26th Chapter Meeting

(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 at an Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter meeting. —Ye Ed.)

The chapter arrived at Durant early this week to get things set up and to be ready to sing as part of the Alexandria Choral Alliance. The chorus looked good in our teal shirts with black slacks and shoes. We were joined by the Alexandria Singers who are directed by Bill Colosimo.

The room was set with the risers facing the stage, but they were all the way at the other end of the room. And were set in a “straight line format” so we could get used to that arrangement in advance of the Supreme Court show.

At 7, the Alliance activities began and the Harmonizers were first up to sing on the risers. We sang “Great Day,” “Armed Forces Medley,” “Clap Yo Hands,” “Battle Hymn,” “New York New York” and “God Bless the USA.” Lazear, T. Colosimo, Joe Sawyer, and Wayne Adams sang the quartet intro for that last song.

After we sang, the chapter was presented a $250 Alexandria Choral Alliance Award for Youth Harmony Education. This was in recognition of the chapter’s successful Youth Harmony Festivals for the last two years.

Next the Alexandria Singers did a great set and sang and danced and entertained with show songs – many that will be used in their spring show coming up soon. Both groups also will do shows at Ft. Ward Park this summer.

The event closed with both groups combined to sing “Let There Be Music; Let There Be Love” written by Joe Liles.

Everyone was invited to enjoy refreshment breaks and take care of barbershop business.

Then when we were back in session, Director Joe thanked his chorus members for their hard work and dedication to run a good convention last weekend, and to sing well too! Then he got all the guests and members up on the risers for a concentrated session on the new contest ballad “You Tell Me Your Dream.” It is sounding so good already. Scipio Garling presented a scenario for all to embrace and remember. Joe asked him to do this to help clarify the change in the general plan that had been announced at previous rehearsals. This will be a message about young love and the way the two parties spoke about their feelings for each other in the beginning days of the relationship.

The contest work continued and Joe had the chorus do several reps of the uptune, and continued concentrated work on the ballad. You could also tell that the musical leaders were using the ideas and suggestions offered by the judging panel from the Southern Division contest.

It was good to see guests and new applicants on the risers digging in to learn (or keep from being trampled!).

Singing time ended with one more run of the Supreme Court package.

At 10 pm, we had our meeting time. Dan O introduced another row of guests – new guys, some who came for the show and stayed, some college guys who are home now and have some time to get into some music and an applicant or two.

Secretary Buechler introduced the two newest members, Phil Ayoub (Chris Granger of Hell’s Kitchen Chapter in NYC got the Man Of Note Award for bringing him into the BHS.); and Phil Ferguson (Dan O’Brien got his first Man of Note Award as his sponsor.)

Lots of our guys have Man of Notes Awards for going the extra mile in helping a guy join the Society. Guys with 10 or more are Sutton, Pitzer, Harner, Witmer, Darryl Flinn, Watcher, Plaag, John Adams, Scott Werner, McFarland, Buechler. And even more interesting – there are 101 of us current members who have at least one Man of Note.

Chris also presented a 25-year membership pin and renewal card to our District President, Gary Plaag (who I forgot to recognize in last week’s column who did the MC task for the Sat nite show). I also reported in last week’s column that Bob Wilson was a former member, but he is still a member.

Other renewal awards presented Tuesday nite were 22 years for Ike Evans, 7 for Steve Murane, 33 for Dave Welter, and 34 years for both Austin Cotton and Howard Nestlerode.

K12 took time to give details about the Supreme Court show but an email was promised with the very latest details. Important detail – bring a photo ID. The riser crew is due at 4 pm and when they were promised dinner, more hands went up to help!

We did a Moment in Harmo History reflecting the first time we won the division contest – in 1976, in Norfolk. Werner was director then and we tossed him in the pool!

Ken White offered chapter congrats to the third place and first place quartets at Southern Division – DOWNTOWN and DOWN A FOURTH. He also announced Eric Wallen is taking on the chapter quartet promotion duties.

Reynolds pushed for guys to get in their tapes to section leaders. Time is up.

A report was given about Carl Kauffmann’s surgery and health status. A tough one but he seems to be on the mend. Our best to him.

Mick Stamps and Ken Fess, show producers, surprised Ken White with a framed personalized Playbill in thanks for helping carrying the show. And darn if Kenny didn’t also win the 50/50 last nite.

The afterglow was well attended and there was a lot of laughing, some gang singing, and when Ye Ed left, a few guys were outside tagging.

Until next time – editorjack!

Looking Back on Southern Division Weekend May 22-23, 2009

Looking Back on Southern Division Weekend May 22-23, 2009

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

The chapter hosted the Division contest weekend for the district. Carl Kauffmann was chair and coordinated his team of committee chairs.

Registrations – Bob Eckman
Judges Services – Bob Wachter/Audrey Shively
Staging Setup and Take Down – Dean Rust
Auditorium – Tom Berkey
Chorus and Quartet Escorts – Craig Kujawa
Signs – John Pence
Judges Transportation – Austin Cotton
Reproduction – Chris Buechler
Program Ads – Carl Kauffmann

These guys did a lot of the work in the weeks leading up to the contest so our guys could concentrate on the show and other musical activity in the chapter calendar. The members of the chapter then came forward to work on Friday and Saturday to make it all happen. District officials thanked us from the stage all weekend and as I understand it, we get a monetary sum for our services.

If you were there and took a minute to look at the printed program, you would have noticed the names of Harmonizers all over the place. First off, we had members in eight of the 17 quartets who competed in the quartet contest on Friday nite. (I have reported all those names in a couple recent columns.) And several former members were in other competing quartets such as Bob Wilson, Brian Chopp, Gene Thompson. The mic testing quartet was FULL TILT.

Third place quartet was DOWNTOWN with two Alexandria guys – Drew Fuller and Kevin Flynn. Actually the lead singer is a recent applicant at our chapter too.

Second place quartet was RING OF GOLD from neighboring Frederick Chapter.

First place Southern Division quartet was DOWN A FOURTH with Joe Sawyer as tenor, Joe Cerutti as lead, Wayne Adams as bari and Mike Kelly as bass. They brought the house down (or actually up out of their seats) with good singing and while obviously having a good time on stage. (The down-a-fourth gag worked for them with Mike hitting low notes they say are not even on a piano!)

As winners, they get to advance to the district contest in Lancaster in Oct. Other quartets may get to advance depending on the scores earned by all competitors at the four divisions – the next highest scoring groups get to advance til the district gets the total number of contestants they can have for that contest Oct. 2-3.

The chorus contest on Saturday started at 10 am. Alexandria sang after the contest officially ended while judges were still present. The judges offered input for us in preparation for Anaheim. Each of the three categories spent 20 minutes with us.

First place chorus was James River from Richmond. Second place was the Virginia Gentlemen from Roanoke Valley. They were directed by Erin Odell and were also the Most Improved Chorus in the division contest. Third place chorus was The Virginians from Richmond. Fourth place was the Fairfax Jubilaires. Those four choruses advance to the district contest in Oct. Alexandria also advances, with a bye, unless they win a gold medal in Anaheim!!!

There were a lot of former members in other choruses this weekend. There were two new chapters started in the division that competed. One, Harrisonburg Harmonizers, are particularly close to us with leaders there like Mike Organ, Alan Durick, Dewey Feuerhelm and Michael Calhoun. They even got their black slacks from us for uniforms. The other new chapter is in Germantown, MD.

Quite a lot of our guys also sang in the chorus contest such as all the guys in Mt. Vernon’s Harmony Heritage Singers directed by Bob Wachter; three or four guys in the DC Chorus; Mike Wallen directed Richmond with some of our dual members and former members on the risers; Sound Works, James River included several former members too.

For those who plan ahead, the 2010 Southern Division contest will be in Roanoke. The spring prelims quartet contest will be in Harrisburg to select the quartets from our district to advance to the International contest in Philly. And as mentioned above, the fall quartet and chorus contests will be in Lancaster. Our chapter is already preparing to attend and encouraging members to start planning. Even if we win a gold in July, we will take a large chorus to Mid Atlantic fall contest. That is part of the Harmonizer culture.

As mentioned above, we had a lot of our members in visible jobs all weekend. John Hohl was MC for the chorus contest. District leaders and events team staffers included a bunch of familiar names from our chapter including Kennett who was the lighting person. The judging panel included former member Larry Deters and current members Chuck Harner and Chris Buechler.

Director Joe and Mike Kelly presented a great video explaining Youth Harmony work being done in Alexandria and around the district. It was shown while the results were being calculated after the chorus contest.

Saturday nite there was a show of champions for all the winners to sing again. Immediately after it ended, the Harmonizers moved in to take down, pack and load the district truck and Harmo Van. It went fast with many hands – lots of new guys helped and even some of us old timers!

Until next time – editorjack

Looking Back on May 19th Chapter Meeting

Looking Back on May 19th Chapter Meeting

(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 at an Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter meeting. —Ye Ed.)

Ye Ed heard this evening that if there is any member who needs a hard copy of a chapter issued song, he should make arrangements with chapter librarian Dick Dangel to get a copy.

The troops were there early to get things set up. Steve White was general in charge since K12 was on business travel. The risers were set up in a straight line format so the chorus could get used to that shape and change in preparation for singing for the Supreme Court. That means there is no room for front row movement and hardly room for Director Joe out front. But we have done a number of times and it is always a fantastic event.

Tony Colosimo worked a strong warm up session to help the chorus prep for their appearance this weekend in Reston at the Southern Division contest (and for working with Dr. David Wright, our awesome coach on ’08 who will also be our coach for the upcoming retreat!)

Lots of guests arrived early too and many men were busy hosting or helping them meet other guys, prepare for audition or find their way around the hall.

The risers were set up facing the stage so that our video crew could stand on the stage and then could record for visual training purposes.

The rehearsal included work on the package for Supreme Court Historical Society – “Battle Hymn,” “Armed Forces Medley” and “God Bless The USA.” At the end of the meeting there was a Moment in Harmo History reflecting on previous appearances in the marble hall for the Justices, the great foods, the fun trying to get pitch pipes thru Security, and recalling that every time we won a gold medal we had sung for the Court earlier that summer!!

Dan O had a good number of guests again -- some first timers, several from the past guest nites, and former members Chuck Botts and Phil Ashford

During the break, the chorus enjoyed goodies sent in by Ron Nelson’s wife and Ben’s mom – the chocolate cookies, orange rolls and Mexi tarts! Members also signed up for Anaheim t-shirts, signed up to help manage the Division contest this weekend.

Ken Fess and Mick Stamps took time to thank each and every guy who helped with the Spring Tonic. (We reported them in this column last week.)

Next week May 26th, we are to wear our teal casual shirts, black pants, shoes and belt. To sing as part of the first Choral Alliance. Joe wants the chorus there about 6:45 to be ready for 7 pm start. We will be joined by Alexandria Singers (directed by Tony’s Dad, Bill.) We will sing a couple songs and then combined with the Singers to do Joe Liles’ “Let There Be Music! Let There Be Love.”

The chorus worked on that song, and then concentrated on the contest package they will sing for judges at the end of the division chorus contest. There was time allotted for men to make tapes to turn in to section leaders.

Then they took some time to review and bring back “God Bless USA” and add interp and warmth to a song we have sung a lot.

Final event for the nite was a musical recording of “Great Day” in an effort to start doing this regularly at Durant and collect songs that might be used for a CD in the future.

The nite ended with packing up risers and equipment and benches to take to contest this weekend. And there was time for some tag singing and visiting, before adjourning to 815 S. Washington for our Tuesday nite afterglow.

Until next time – editorjack!