Thursday, April 14, 2011

Looking Back on Another Busy Harmo Weekend and the April 12th Chapter Meeting

Friday – Quartet Filming for BBC Saturday – Chorus Performance for TV in Cherry Blossom Parade Saturday – Harmonizers Host Youth Harmony Festival Tuesday – Another High-Octane Chapter Meeting and Chorus Rehearsal Friday – Quartet Filming for BBC. April 8, a put-together quartet of Harmonizers (Dan O'Brien, Joe Cerutti, Joe Sawyer, and Ken White) performed an original song for a documentary on the Discovery Channel. The producer and director of the film was looking to have a small audience for the filming to pull off the street to watch. YeEd, Keith Jones and Noah Van Gilder were in the audience and Noah was the cue card holder. The quartet wore the red vest and tie. Filming began at Old Ebbitt Grill and then headed to an outdoor location at Freedom Plaza with the Capitol Building in the background. Luckily filming ended before the rains came. As background, the film is about a Washington, DC, scientist Dr. Harvey W Wiley, who pioneered the safe testing of food and set up the modern day FDA. Wiley's experiments became so famous that local minstrel groups sang about them and the film producers wanted to capture one of the songs on the film. While they researched original lyrics to the song, they did not have any documentation of the melody. So, the song the quartet performed was composed and arranged, within hours of the request, by our very own John Hohl. You would have laughed as we all did at the lyrics. The quartet was great at getting a new song with all unknown words ready to sing on camera. The film will be part of a mini-series of documentaries, yet to be named, about death and different ways of dying. The episode the quartet will be featured on is all about food and food poisoning and will be aired on the BBC and the Discovery Channel in the January/February time frame. Saturday – Chorus Performance for TV in Cherry Blossom Parade. All day and nite Friday, the DC area was under the gun to hear if the government would be shut down. Then midday Friday, word came out that the Cherry Blossom Parade was gonna go, no matter what the government did. So the Harmonizers’ performance was on! Congrats and thanks to shows vp, Ken White, and producer, Greg Tepe, for all the tons of messages and details they managed in order to get this gig on the books and off the ground! Plus Mark Klostermeyer for herding the marching singers as chorus manager, Mark K and Will Cox for stepping in at the last minute to do the front row choreo, and Mike Kelly for helping with director duties. Guys got up mighty early in order to arrive at the Navy Memorial Metro stop in DC about 8:15 am on Saturday, April 9th. Chorus was to arrive in black suit, the yellow chorus shirt and black tie and some comfortable all black shoes. Anything they carried needed to fit in a pocket or be tossed. Some guys brought something to eat. The weather cooperated, sort of, in that it didn’t rain, but it was pretty chilly. Guys say it was not bad once they started walking down the parade route. YeEd talked to some guys after the parade and learned that it went well. Actually YeEd and a bunch of fellow chorus members watched the parade on ABC via tv in the lobby at Durant Rec Center where we were working on the Youth Festival event. The chapter got great coverage as the tv hosts for the parade often reminded their viewers that the Alexandria Harmonizers were coming up later. Vince Cazenas and Jacob George carried the chapter banner to lead the “marching” chorus. Director Joe Cerutti was out front where a drum major might have been for a band. Guys say we didn’t really march but walked, and sang often during the path of the parade (tho there was a bit of a challenge from the noise made by the race car vehicle just ahead of the chorus in the parade). The chorus did their tv performance before a reviewing stand and the singers were a little nervous that the tape started before they started making the first gestures. But none of that showed on tv. As reported in early editions of “Looking Back” the chorus used a recording of “New York New York” that was also the one they used for their audition for America’s Got Talent show. Frequently when the parade stopped, the chorus would face one sidewalk crowd and sing. They performed “Stars and Stripes” and “ObLaDi ObLaDa” for these mini shows. Saturday – Harmonizers Host Youth Harmony Festival. Friday evening, a crew of Harmonizers reported to our meeting place, Durant Rec Center, to set up for the Youth Harmony Festival set for Saturday starting at 9 am. Brad Jones was chair and did tons of work to pull off another successful Festival. The Friday nite crew included Dean Rust, Bob Rhome and Bob Blair who put up the risers – five sections on the stage and three sections each in the two other meeting rooms in the building. Brad and Ian Poulin set up the registration area and Roger Day delivered the bright yellow shirts each student attendee and music educator received when they signed in. Keith Jones and Jack Pitzer added finishing details to the main hall where the meals would be served, got the coffee ready to plug in first thing Saturday morning, and organized supplies in the kitchen. Several guys brought goodies for the students to have during the day. This was our largest Festival – about 80 singers and almost an even half-an-half split of boys and girls. We had participants from as far away as Tennessee and Delaware. Over the four years of the festival we have now had seven states and 56 different schools represented in the Festival. Each student was sent learning tapes for the songs they would learn – one each for boys and girls and one for the combined chorus. Music educators were eager to sign up students from their music programs including a large group of singers from a home-schooling program coordinated by Steve Murane’s sister, Cindy. Former Harmonizer, Alan Weberg, brought a bus load of students. A new high school joined us with Sandra Zinkievich bringing five boys from Blake HI School in Silver Spring, MD. Cheryl Berlin, assistant director of the DC Capital Chorus brought a large group too from Gaithersburg HS. Our chapter gets support from Sweet Adeline International with free music and materials for the girls. The Barbershop Harmony Society provides some financial support for the boys based on the survey’s we collected from the students and submit to the BHS. Brad was also able to get some financial breaks from Giant Food and Domino Pizza for the meal supplies. During the day, Kathy Kauffmann, Pat Pitzer, Lew Klinge, Keith Jones, Sam McFarland and Cheryl Wallen (Eric’s sister) helped with the food service operation too. During break time on Saturday, three of the DA CAPO guys came by to help teach tags. Michalel Gilmore was on had all day to shoot pixs of the event. Music director for the boys was Kevin King from MD. He is a former chorus director and teaches choral music at Lock Raven High School in the Balitmore area. He has sung in a number of top ranked quartets and earned medals with the popular BSQ foursome. FRANK THE DOG came down from PA to be the demo quartet and helpers with the boys. They were hosted in the home of Peggy and Rick Wagner. They taught tags, sang for the students and did a spot on the evening show. The quartet is a popular M-AD group and will be singing in Kansas City for their second International appearance. Tim Knapp, tenor; Tom Halley, lead; Ross Trube, bari; and Steve Kirsch, bass. Claire Domenick was musical director for the girls. She directs a SAI chorus in the Harrisburg, PA, area, and is a master director in the that organization. CAPRI was the demo quartet for the girls. This is their fourth time to help with the Festival. They all live in the MD area and have earned a third place medal in SAI. Nancy Disney, tenor; Jen Kuethe, lead; Kate Mannherz, bari; and Maggie Butts, bass. A choreography team of Scipio Garling and Catherine Colosimo (Tony’s sister) helped teach the students their stage presence material. Kenne Toula, who sings in CAPITAL FORCE, helped with stage presence props too. The boys’ chorus and girls’ chorus each sang one song on an evening show that was attended by parents, friends, music educators and many barbershoppers. The students were encouraged to learn a tag and enter a tag-singing-contest. There was a winner chosen from the boys and girls choruses and they were invited to perform on the show too. The Harmonizer a cappella group, TBD, opened the show and introduced some new Harmonizers on stage as part of that group. Both of the guest quartets sang too. And then a combined boys and girls chorus did the warp up slot on the show. Coordinator Brad was emcee and Dennis Ritchey did sound support for the show. Director Joe stopped by after the parade to bring greetings and encourage the students and their teachers. He scooted on to LaPlata to direct the Pride of Baltimore chorus in a show there. DA CAPO also sang on that show. Tuesday – Another High-Octane Chapter Meeting and Chorus Rehearsal. This was a week of changes for the Harmonizers. First, the risers were set up in a straight line. Second the refreshments were served in the kitchen. Third there were no mirrors up. Fourth, Dick and Carolyn Hall were in MO this week and so no 50/50 sales. Fifth there were more wooden crates and boxes brought in. And sixth, there was a huge sign on the wall behind Director Joe with big letters – CA, as an indication of where to focus for center audience. But some things were the same as almost every week. Chuck McKeever held a visual training class and review session on the stage starting at 6. He had good attendance too. Tony Colosimo did the vocal warm ups. And Director Joe Cerutti was full of excitement and ready for a hard working and profitable rehearsal. When Joe took the helm, he explained that the risers were set up in a line so we could get used to that format because for the Carnegie Hall show, the chorus will be standing on choral platforms. He also mentioned to YeEd that we would not use the mirrors for a few weeks so the singers would loosen and up and get into the song more. Joe also expressed his appreciation and that of the chapter to shows vp, Ken White, for the tons of work he did to pull off the parade appearance; and similarly, he thanked Brad Jones for his hours of work and dedication to detail in organizing the YHF. Then it was to work singing, with emphasis on songs for Carnegie Hall. And then Joe met with the section leaders and gave them last minute reminders of points he wanted reviewed in the contest songs. After the chorus reassembled on the risers they worked til break time on the contest material. Ops vp, Mark Klostermeyer, conducted the chapter meeting. Secretary Chris Buechler offered Harmonizer 50-year history books, “Breathless Moments,” to any members who had not gotten one when then joined, or anyone who needed a copy. There are plenty, so speak up if you didn’t get one. He also presented membership renewal cards to Kevin Kaiser, 11 years, and Bruce Minnick, 34 years. Membership vp, Phil Ashford, recognized the guests present for the evening which included several returning men, some applicants, a couple first-timers, and family and relatives of members. Special Forces guy present this week was Mike Wallen. The refreshments and coffee break was set up in the kitchen this week. It was an idea we got from Kevin Kaiser, who told us the Denver chapter used the kitchen for their break. So we tried it. Next week we want to get guys to enter via the door in the main hall, pick up their goodies and head out the other door into the lobby. After the break, the meeting announcements continued. Jack Pitzer launched plans for our chapter involvement at the M-AD Fall contest in Lancaster, Sept. 30-Oct. 1. Even tho we will not sing in the contest, the chapter has extended an offer to help the host chapter during the chorus contest as chorus escorts. And since we are not competing, it will be a fun weekend, free of duties and extra rehearsals. Guys should go ahead and make housing arrangements and get a ticket order. We expect to also have some kind of social event for the chapter while we are in Lancaster. Stay tuned. Shows vp, Ken White, gave a few more details about the Carnegie Hall show specifically about the cultural exchange, or Morning Glow, on Saturday. Non-singers of the Harmo family need to pay. In that regard, Ken announced that in the next few weeks, immediate past chapter treasurer, Howard Nestlerode, will be collecting for a bunch of chapter things coming up before July. So bring a check book! Items we will be paying for include: (1) the mandatory retreat, June 4-5 at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD; (2) an optional fee for coming on Fri nite to the retreat, June 3, as has become very popular with the regulars; (3) Harmony College East barbershop education weekend costs to cover our meals and such, where we will conduct an all day demonstration and sing on the evening show, June 18, in Salisbury, MD; (4) a box lunch for chorus members during Carnegie Hall prep on Fri May 20; (5) Morning Glow tickets for non-singers who attend the cultural exchange event on Sat morning after our concert at Carnegie Hall. Music and performance vp, Terry Reynolds, stressed the need for everyone to do their self evaluations. And to submit an absent slip for any of the rehearsals they might miss. Watch for emails. The mandatory requirement goes into effect in about 3 weeks. Terry also reminded all singers that they must attend at least one vocal and one visual studio session. And he also explained in more detail that Harmonizers will get a special rate if they want to attend the Friday classes of HCE on June 17th. You can get a full glance at the classes offered by going to our district’s website but watch for details from Terry if you or a group of guys or your quartet wish to attend Friday. President Steve Murane reminded us all that the Barbershop Harmony Society birthday is April 12th. He also asked for volunteers to step forward to help coordinate the chapters’ efforts as hosts for the Southern Division contest in Reston, May 27 and 28. The rest of us will be asked to escort quartets and choruses, help with ushering duties, staff ticket booths, and such. Plus we will have a bunch of quartets singing that weekend to cheer for. President Steve also conducted a survey to see how many guys could do a Memorial Day gig on Monday morning, May 30th at National Harbor from 8-10 am. The numbers looked good. So watch for more details on this too. Then back to work. Mike Kelly directed “Sweet and Lovely” to get guys back to singing. The rest of the evening the chorus worked on the contest songs. The package continues to unfold with strong work on the musical portion and all the while inserting more and more of the visual. The ever-growing number of wooden crates is fun to watch! Tony directed portions of this rehearsal period and Joe coached. Then Joe invited the section leaders to take a turn and offer a couple suggestions for improvement. The chorus worked hard til closing. Then more work to put things all away and head over to the afterglow. 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 each week at an Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter meeting. —YeEd.)