Saturday, July 10, 2010

Looking Back on the June 27th Big Show with Westminster and 8 Quartets

More than a year ago, Harmonizer and Westminster leaders worked out a plan to do a show just prior to the International contests. And as soon as the word leaked out, top quartets contacted us to be on the show too. Ken Fess, who was overall director of the event, did a masterful job of coordinating all the details and the people to create one of the most successful shows ever for the chapter. He started well in advance and assembled a solid task force or workers.

The venue, George Mason University Performing Arts Center in Fairfax, VA, was a great spot for the show. Ticket sales, thanks to a hard working promotion team headed by Scipio Garling, were a huge success. Barbershoppers from all around stepped up and bought a lot of tickets. The crowd started cheering before the curtain went up and every good chord or nifty move or almost-funny joke got loud roars! Steve Murane was the ticket guru for show ticket sales as well as the afterSHOW tickets. A big job which he seems to handle with calm and ease.

Guest MC for this show was Ev Nau, staffer with the BHS Foundation in Nashville.

Westminster Chorus won gold in the BHS contest in 2007, and won the title 2009 Choir of the World in Europe. The Harmonizers have won the BHS contest four times.

Quartets on the show included OC TIMES, OLD SCHOOL, MAXX FACTOR, RINGMASTERS, MUSICAL ISLAND BOYS, THE CRUSH, THE EDGE, QTONES. All of those quartets did really well in Philly too!!!

There were barbershoppers from all over the world in the audience including the quartets from Sweden and New Zealand. Several BHS staffers were spotted. For sure our fellow M-AD family attended. Our own show customers were there in large numbers, too. Many young people from the east coast attended. (Joe suggested that if a guy didn’t sell tickets, maybe he could buy some and give them to Joe, who pledged to give them to youth singers and their teachers. Many tickets were given out.)

YeEd has gotta say, it was so neat to see how the Harmonizers stepped up to the plate and took on jobs that needed to be done. Some at the last minute to cover something, or to fill in when a family situation took a guy away. I saw guys volunteer to help with the food set up for the two choruses and quartets. (The snacks, orange slices, apple slices, chips, cookies, water and all were plentiful for all the singers. Thanks to Kim Fess who cut all of those oranges and apples!!) FRIENDS IN HARMONY helped quartets sell CDs.

Housing the chorus and quartets in our homes was a big job but everyone enjoyed meeting fellow singers. Rick Wagner and Brain Ammerman coordinated the hosting work. Noah Van Gilder helped coordinate tour guide service on Monday after the show down on the Mall in DC. Bruce Lauther coordinated bus service to get the big crowd of guys from BWI to VA where we met them to take them to our homes. (We need to thank those who opened their homes and then did the laundry and cooking to make the visit so good.)

Mick Stamps and others from the chapter, including Dixie, were on the technical side of show production.

Chorus call was 10:30 am on Sunday. Many of us had to hunt a bit on campus, but in the end we all got into the right places. Each chorus did warm-ups. You could feel the excitement in the dressing rooms. (YeEd got a first look at those sharp new shirts for the Harmonizers too!!!)

And each quartet had their own dressing room. (Nifty room ID signs were done by Mark Klostermeyer.)

Then the two choruses assembled on the stage to get used to the other director and figure how to fit all those singers onto the 11 sections of risers. When Ken Fess did his welcome, all the barbershoppers cheered and thanked him with gusto.

Justin Miller, from Westminster, helped the guys with his interp of “Great Day” for the intro. Stage time was also used to review how the show would present “God Bless the USA” with OLD SCHOOL and OCTIMES doing the quartet intros. The huge American flag lowered in the middle of the song was a thrill to see.

The singers were given a break and before you knew it, it was 2 pm and the curtain lifted to see the almost 200 singers on stage. The audience was fired up and that set a great mood for the whole show. Producer Fess did a good job of mixing quartets and the two choruses – each did a set with their contest songs they would use in Philly, and a set with show songs.

During the afternoon, Greg Pappas did several of his almost-magic-paintings during intermission. Harmonizer guys sold opportunity tickets for folks to win the paintings. He was a hit.

Right after the show, we hosted the afterSHOW in the newly opened Mason Hall. Catering was great. You could just walk across the parking lot. Tony Colosimo and Cheryl Wallen coordinated that event and several SIA members did nifty table decorations. Ken White was MC for the afterglow.

All of us got to hear all the quartets that had sung on the show – a special treat for the two choruses who were in dressing rooms and not able to see or hear the live show. They did get a glance of the show on TV equipment Jeremy Richardson coordinated to have our guys set up in each chorus dressing room.

In addition to the live show, the chapter marketed a webcast of the show and afterSHOW. Mike Kelly was on the camera for that part of the day.

Tuesday morning came up plenty early, as all of us who hosted Westminster singers had to get them to a bus out on Rt. 50, The head to Philly ourselves.

It was another Harmonizer milestone!

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 with the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —Ye Ed.)

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