Thursday, September 24, 2009

Looking Back on the Sepember 22nd Chapter Meeting

Looking Back on the Sepember 22nd 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.)

(Thanks again to Alan Wile for taking notes and writing the column -- YeEd!!)

At 6:00 p.m. things are already hopping at the Durant Center. Chuck McKeever is working on the contest set choreography with guys who want to compete with us in Lancaster in a couple of weeks. Bob Blair brought the Harmo-truck and, with help from Ken Fess, Tom Kraus, TJ Jones, Tom Berkey, Phil Ferguson, Victor Hills and others, began putting up risers and mirrors. Mark Klostermeyer (K-12) was busy adding some guys to the riser chart; Terry Jordan was arranging for coffee and edible goodies; Carolyn and Dick Hall were hawking 50-50 tickets and scrip cards; Bruce Minnick, Sandy Stamps, and Chuck Harner were selling afterglow tickets, White House ornaments, and Entertainment Books, respectively; Alan Wile put out the vinyl record collection for anyone interested (to benefit the M-AD Endowment Fund), Terry Reynolds readied the projector for use during the rehearsal; Dennis Ritchey helped with mirrors and sound and, together with Craig Kujawa, arranged all the props for Lady of Spain/Ed Sullivan Show song. All this time, Dan O’Brien was setting up his membership tent and greeting guests while Dixie Kennett busied herself (as she does so well every week) taking attendance. And those are just the ones I recorded in my notes. Whew!

At 7:00 p.m. we were on the risers. Gary Plaag tried vainly to energize our brains with some mirror moves and clap/stomp sequences. Then it was up to Will Cox to conduct a vocal warm-up before turning center stage over to Director Joe Cerutti. Joe introduced “All I Ask Of You” -- a joint number we’ll be performing with the Pride of Baltimore Chorus on November 8th. Then, in turn, he spent about 10 minutes on each of the following in succession: “Scarborough Fair” (to measure 70), “There’s A Meetin’ Here Tonight,” and “In Harmony.”

Because he had difficulty containing himself, Joe let it “slip” (accidentally on purpose, as we used to say) that not only has the new contest up-tune been selected, it has a 16-bar bass solo … and the ballad has been recorded by a number of famous name performers and has never been sung by a quartet. He caught himself before revealing the name of either song, however. [“Boo! Hiss!!” I heard someone mutter.]

Next up was Gary Plaag who reviewed and drilled us on the new choreography for “It Don’t Mean A Thing.” Those who were singing with the chorus a fe years years ago may remember “Four Walls,” which bears some similarity to the moves in this song.

Just before the break, Joe asked Scott Kahler’s father, Ray Kahler, to come off the risers and direct “Silent Night.” Ray is a certified director who directs the Lamplighter Chorus in Mesa, AZ.

VP-Operations K-12 conducted the meeting both before and after the break. He announced that Lew Kling, Joe Sawyer, and Bob Wachter all have birthdays this week: on the 25th, 26th, and 28th, respectively. Secretary Chris Buechler presented membership cards to Chris Yates (10 years) and Mike Schwartz (15 years). Alan Wile invited any interested to pick up a record (or two, or …) -- free except for a generous contribution to the M-AD Endowment Fund.

VP-Membership Dan O’Brien thanked all for a very successful guest night and suggested that “Every Night Is A Membership Night!” He welcomed Pete Frank back from Erie and Ken Henderson as the newest member of the chapter (and a bass singer!). He then introduced a great group of guests. It was great to see Roger Day back for a visit, too.

K-12 introduced Chapter President Brad Jones, who presented a “You Make A Difference” pin to Alan Wile and then turned the mic over to Mick Stamps, the Chairman of the Chapter Nominating Committee, to conduct the election. Mick introduced the slate of officers for next year (which contains quite a number of returning familiar faces):
President: Dick Newton
VP-Chapter Development (Membership): Dan O’Brien
VP-Operations: Mark Klostermeyer
VP-Music & Performance: Terry Reynolds
VP-Shows: Ken Rub
VP-Marketing & Public Relations: Scipio Garling
Secretary: Chris Buechler
Treasurer: Howard Nestlerode
Member-at-Large 2010-2011: Phil Ferguson
Member-at-Large 2010-2011: Noah Van Gilder
Member-at-Large 2009-2010 (not up for election): Bob Blair
Member-at-Large 2009-2010 (not up for election): Scott Kahler
Immediate Past President (not up for election): Brad Jones
He asked the Chapter Secretary whether any additional nominations had been received; none had. That being the case, he moved to elect the slate as presented. The motion was quickly seconded and passed without a moment’s hesitation and without objection. CONTRATULATIONS to all!

Back on the risers, we drilled “Lady Of Spain/Ed Sullivan Show,” “When I Lift Up My Head,” and “Great Day.” The balance of the evening was spent on the contest set, with silent choreography drills, close eye drills, and singing drills. Joe asked Assistant Director Tony Colosimo to direct so that he could coach. By 10:00 there was a distinct odor akin to something you might find in “Stilman’s Gym” -- man, was it hot and were we sweaty!

K-12 reminded us about Thursday’s rehearsal and show at the Pentagon City Ritz Carlton; the combined rehearsal with Pride of Baltimore (in Baltimore) on October 26th; and that our own holiday show will have four performances (one on Friday night and two regular dinner-shows on Saturday followed by an extra “dessert” (only) show to accommodate the demand … and limited seating capacity of the hall.

Scott Kahler announced that information will be coming out about the Harmonizer calendar which is now on “Google Calendar,” where every detail about upcoming performances will be easily found in a single, easily updated document.

Gerry Levine was the big 50-50 winner tonight! K-12 thanked the guests for coming invited all to adjourn to Southside 812 for a bit of an afterglow, and then asked Pete Frank to lead us all in singing “Keep The Whole World Singing.”

Until next time – editorjack!

Looking Back on September 17th Extra Rehearsal

Looking Back on September 17th Extra Rehearsal

(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.)

(Many thanks again to Alan Wile for covering the Sept 17th rehearsal.)

The Harmonizers met at the Jefferson-Houston School (adjacent to the Durant Center) last night -- a special/extra rehearsal with Kirk Young as our coach. Chuck McKeever was busy helping out a few guys that wanted extra reps on the moves to the contest “up” tune and some group of guys put up the risers.

Assistant Director Tony Colosimo warmed us up before relinquishing his position “out front” to Director Joe Cerutti. Joe “kindly” worked us rapidly through the timing of “Scarborough Fair” and then drilled measures 5-27 for about 10 minutes. Next, in 10 minute segments we rehearsed “In Harmony” and “There’s a Meeting Here Tonight.” His conclusion: all need individual attention on words and notes!

Then it was up to Kirk -- also a kindly, gentle sort. He began by exercising our brains, which proved to be a challenge, by having us move our arms/hands in mirror image to his. That didn’t last long and very soon we were immersed in an examination of bits and pieces of the contest ballad. He stressed the constant movement of the song, the “connecting tissue” between phrases, the need for a constant “push” (forward motion and destination), whether breaths are reflective or moving forward, where breaths taken after certain phrases could cause the flow to disconnect, and the need to transition to new thoughts before singing (i.e., we think of something to say before we say it and this needs to be apparent in our singing, as well).

We took a short 10-minute break. VP Ops Mark Klostermeyer reminded us about the rehearsal and show next Thursday at the Pentagon City Ritz Carlton (and Terry Reynolds pleaded for those who had not done so, to indicate whether or not they intended to participate). Bruce Minnick sold tickets to the afterglow that will follow our show with Pride of Baltimore (members were urged to buy them as early as possible against the expectation that they will sell out). It was also announced that the Vienna Falls SAI Chorus is having a guest night next Tuesday at the Kena Temple Anek (9001 Arlington Blvd., Fairfax) in hopes that some of the members’ wives might be interested in attending.

Joe C. noted that our position at the upcoming district fall contest in Lancaster is dead last and believes we have the ability for our performance to create a sense of awe for those in the audience. He also announced that a “dessert show” will follow our last regular performance of our holiday dinner show on Saturday night. If there are any comments about this plan, he asked that they be addressed to President Brad Jones (what a chicken, huh?).

He also gave us a “teaser” (i.e., not a lot of specific information) about the ballad that’s been selected for us to sing at the international contest in Philadelphia next July. He’ll give us more information on Tuesday.

Chuck McKeever highlighted and we drilled three or four specific “eye-catching” moves in “Clap Yo Hands” that need to be executed with precision if they are to be effective. In a word or two: we just gotta do it!

Then it was back to work on bits and pieces of the ballad … and then we worked the ballad … and the ballad….. Yes, we also performed the “up” tune and tweaked it a bit but, by far, the evening was devoted to making the ballad even more artistically beautiful.

Finally, Kirk took us out with a rousing rendition, at 10:10 pm, of “Keep The Whole World Singing.” The risers were loaded back in the Harmo-truck and we dispersed.

Until next time – editorjack!

Looking Back on September 15th Chapter Meeting and Guest Nite

Looking Back on September 15th Chapter Meeting and Guest Nite

(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.)

(Many thanks to Alan Wile with input from Terry Jordan for gathering the news from Tuesday nite. As many of you know, YeEd had to take off as I got a call that my Mom has passed away in IL. She went peacefully and Pat and I were in IL by Wed nite. I will tell you more later. Thanks too for Terry and Dick and others who put all the goodies away. Sounds like Tuesday was another great Harmonizer nite.)

Harmonizers began arriving and setting things up at the Durant Center at 6:00 p.m. Membership VP, Dan O’Brien put out all sorts of materials (including some attractive folders with music and informational items) in anticipation of a great guest night turnout. Jack Pitzer and others arranged an overwhelming amount of snack and drink items. John Pence and Bill Stewart attacked the risers, in an on-going attempt to make them “squeakless.” Bob Rhome and a host of others set up risers and arranged chairs. Chapter Archivist Bob Blair put together a wonderful historical display for all to enjoy. Chuck McKeever worked with a number of guys on their choreography on the stage. Dan-O and his team greeted and registered guests as they began to arrive. Scott Kahler and Dennis Ritchey set up the sound system and Terry Reynolds readied the projector and screen to display music … when needed. Whew! Durant was really buzzing with activity and good vibes!

At 7:00 or thereabouts the call went out to “take the risers.” Assistant Director Tony Colosimo conducted a vocal warm-up for the assembled members and guests, who were arranged in sections. In turn, he introduced Director Joe Cerutti. Joe welcomed all and explained that we would ALL learn a couple of new songs (rather than work songs already in the Harmonizer repertoire). Charts for the two songs (“I Love To Hear Those Songs” and “Mary Had A Little Lamb”) was passed to the Harmonizers (guests had received it already in their folders) and then we began. Joe worked notes first, then quality, and then interpretation. Truth be told, the result was pretty impressive. Before the break, Presentation guru Gary Plaag taught the moves to the “swing” portion of one of our new songs, “It Don’t Mean A Thing,” to the entire group. That the guests learned it as quickly as the old-timers was a tribute to the quality, interest, and ability of our guests! What a pleasure!! Also, at some point, Joe taught and directed the tag to “Great Day” -- which, ultimately, made the walls resound!

During the break Dan-O introduced the guests. By actual count there were 33 male guests and 10-12 women (some related to Harmonizers … some not). Included were several members of the Pride Of Baltimore SAI Chorus, Catherine Davies from Chorus America, at least six former Harmonizers (Bruce Roehm, Bob Braunstein, Pat Duffy, Barry Galloway, Lynn Dangelmaier, and Steve Guy), one guest from the St. Charles Chapter sporting a gold international champion chorus medal, Bud Arberg’s son Bob, and several guys who have visited with us over the last few weeks, for a total in the room of 125.

Chapter Secretary Chris Buechler presented three members with their renewed membership cards and a 25-year pin to Ken Fess. Catherine Davies spoke to us briefly about Chorus America. VP Ops Mark Klostermeyer (K-12) announced those members celebrating birthdays this week and reminded us all of the special/extra rehearsal on Thursday, September 17th, at the Jefferson-Houston School (next door to the Durant Center). Also, he reminded us of the rehearsal and show at the Pentagon Center Ritz Carlton next Thursday (September 24th) and urged all to sign up ASAP. Note was made that three members (Tom Kraus, Phil Ferguson, and Brian Miller) were recently married (not to each other).

Following the longer than usual break (to permit us to mingle, meet, and talk with guests) the guests were invited to move to another room where Tony Colosimo taught them a tag. During this time, Mark K-12 conducted the business part of the meeting and Will Cox rehearsed one of the songs we were to perform for our guests later in the evening. Joe Cerutti also conducted some brief drills on the other songs.

The guests returned and performed for us -- to wildly enthusiastic applause. They really did a great job. Then it was our turn, and 73 of us performed “Clap Yo Hands,” “Music Of The Night,” and “New York, New York.” In acknowledging that the official name of the Society includes the word “quartet,” “DOWN A FOURTH,” a chapter quartet with Joe Sawyer (T), Joe Cerutti (L), Wayne Adams (Ba), and Mike Kelly (Bs), was introduced and sang one song.

The guests were then invited to rejoin the chorus on the risers. Together we sang through the two new songs, learned the choreography to the “Great Day” tag (demonstrated by Chuck McKeever and Gary Plaag), and mastered another tag (taught by Joe). “Peg” took the mic and invited us and all our women friends to attend the Pride Of Baltimore Chorus guest night on Monday, November 16th. The night concluded with us all singing “Keep The Whole World Singing,” with Peg doing directing honors.

The evening was just great and didn’t vary very much from our usual routine. Joe kept things varied, interesting, fun … and nearly unpredictable.

Until next time – editorjack!