Thursday, June 11, 2009

Looking Back on June 9th Chapter Meeting

Looking Back on June 9th 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.)

It was primary election day in Virginia and so the Durant facility was being used for a polling place. And the school forgot we were gonna be there and had a band concert in the meeting space we normally use in Jeff Houston School.

We were patient and at 7:20 or so we got to start setting up the risers and meeting room. Meanwhile, chapter leaders got the guys into a meeting room for warm ups, then went to sectionals. So even tho it was not what we had planned, things went well.

The riser crew set up 11 risers so the guys could get used to standing on 9 even tho there will be 11 sets on the stage.

Director Joe put the troops thru their paces right after they got on the risers in singing and performing the contest set. There were many sets of eyes out front to offer suggestions thru the visual team. Music team members also offered Joe their thoughts.

At break, we skipped the coffee but the Nelson’s bakery department came thru with a large supply of home baked goodies. We will all miss those treats since Ron and Ben and the family are moving to Washington State soon.

Also during break guys were invited to sign the back of the terrific framed gift we gave our retreat coach, David Wright. It is a matt with the words Alexandria HARMONIZERS cut out and pictures under those cut out letters. Ron Nelson took the pictures at the retreat and he and Mark Klostermeyer had them processed in Westminster and then they finished the framing.

Membership VP Dan O’Brien had another long line of guests to introduce. Some guys were from other chapters all around the nation, some first timers, and some men who had been at our Youth Festival. Former member and lead singer in FRIENDSHIP FIRE COMPANY, Doug Smith, was visiting too.

After break and during the chapter meeting, Ken White reminded all about the scenario plan for the ballad and invited men to share there intimate stories of young love. Craig Odell shared his story. Following his sharing, Joe had the chorus sing the ballad seated and with their eyes closed. You could feel the emotion in the room. Wonder if we are the only chapter that does that? It always works to get us in touch with our feelings and the feeling of the song.

Dick Newton, Anaheim convention chairman, offered ideas of plans, reminded people to get uniforms and tickets and flights. He also distributed a tentative schedule for Alexandria guys for International week. He asked the Class of ’09 to meet with him in the lobby for special help in making arrangements. (Blue bandanas were checked once or twice during the nite!) (And since Ron and Ben would have been in the class, but won’t be going to Anaheim, they were made Honorary Class of ’09 members.)

Max Kieba reminded all about the deadline to submit scholarship request forms to attend the Harmony University in Missouri. The chapter has a long tradition of sending guys there – to learn and come back to our chapter and get involved in musical and chapter leadership.

Terry Reynolds asked for final tapes.

Scott Kahler announced the formation of a technology team. He asked men to step and offer their help. Before the nite ended, Phil Ferguson, was at work with the head sets and helped with the recording of the ballad at the end of the evening. Word is that the recordings in Durant turn out pretty good.

Thursday, June 11th, there will be an extra rehearsal at Jeff Houston. ALL NOTE THIS NEW DATE. There will not be an extra rehearsal June 25th.

The FRIENDS of HARMONY met last nite too.

Chuck McKeever thanked all of his retreat team for their work.

Then it was back to work on the contest package. One big effort was the especially soft passage Joe wants in the ballad. And that prompted a Moment in Harmo History about the year the Toronto chorus mimicked top choruses and when they came to us, they just mouthed the words. Our reputation of singing wonderfully soft and meaningful ballads was known to all.

The rest of the nite was work, work, work, work. Progress continues.

We wrapped up, loaded the truck, and headed for the afterglow. Another big crowd was there for that too.

Until next time – editorjack!

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!