Saturday, July 2, 2011

Looking Back on the June 30th Extra Rehearsal

We had our only special pre-International rehearsal at the school next door to Durant on Thursday eve. Almost all of the 99 contest chorus members were there – as is tradition, we probably won’t have all 99 until mid-contest-week. (The price we pay for having so many government and military guys who travel all over the world for their jobs.)

Director Joe Cerutti was ready to take over after Tony Colosimo got the singers voices warmed up and ready. The set-up crew had to bring in the risers and props from Cameron Street (with the Harmo van out in the street while it was unloaded) since those were the only doors things could come thru.

But we started on time and Joe worked hard. He revisited the ballad and then launched a push on the uptune. He used the same techniques from Tuesday nite to help the guys go beyond just good or great: sometimes he had them just stand and sing, and then he had them go back to total performance. He had his section leaders for basses and leads to take their guys out for some touch up – and it made a huge change.

The hall was full of guests who wanted to see our package and won’t get to the convention. A big crowd of the guys from Mount Vernon Harmony Heritage Singers were with us. Bill Clark and his two young sons came down from NJ (and for the boys to see Chris on the front row). Jay Butterfield’s sister and her family came in to see us too.

Geri Geis was on hand to help with the polish and of course, her partner Royall, was on hand to lead the cheering section.

At break we had lemonade and some snacks left from the recent show. Ellen Dellert brought chocolate donuts for all to enjoy.

Admin work continued: uniform part swaps and make up kits – thanks to Tom Kern; Scott Kahler and Steve Lingo gave details on how guys could get luggage onto the truck we are driving out to KC; Steve also gathered up coolers guys brought in so he could put them on the truck – they will be used to keep drinks and snacks cold in the Harmo Hideaway at the Hyatt all week; Brian Ammerman launched brief details about the Sept. 24th fall show.

Reminders for all: review the convention handbook for details about uniform parts, especially casual uniform, as well as to have a handle on the Harmonizer schedule as it fits around the convention schedule. Also a suggestion to go to the convention headquarters hotel, the Marriott, on Tuesday to pick up a name tag and holder to wear, plus to get a printed program which you will want all week. That is a good time to check out the Harmony Marketplace for CDs, clothes and often some good sales! Plus that is where you would get tickets for other events during the week. Might be a good time to try out the shuttle bus service from our hotel to the headquarters hotel and to the contest site.

Don’t forget to bring a pen to jot notes – and see how close you can come to picking the quartet winner.

Be sure to bring some other Harmo clothing to wear during the week. About 30 guys got in on the huge order of shirts that Chris Buechler made after our retreat and distributed one Tuesday nite recently.

YeEd got a great note from Victor Hills after his first day of hard training at West Point. He is hanging in there and looks forward to hearing good news about the convention. As soon as things calm down for him at school, he plans to audition for the glee club.

Congrats to former director, Scott Werner, for his 49-year membership renewal recently.

YeEd has more follow up from the East Coast Harmony Show. Thanks to Mike Kelly for his work on a video shot at the show. Mike Everard is another name we left out of our coverage of that event.

Great to have DA CAPO sing for us last Tuesday as a preview of their shot in KCMO. We will all be there to cheer and applaud. Good luck to Ryan, Tony, Joe C and Wayne!!

Thanks to new Echo editor Clark Chesser for taking on the task. He just published his second edition online. He has invited a crew of folks to help him with reviewing the copy since he is a brand new Harmonizer.

Well – it feels like the Harmonizers are ready for a week of fun and further expansion of their performance during the chorus contest on Friday, July 8th.

See you there. And if you are a former member and plan to attend the convention, be sure to come by the Hyatt and see us. If you won’t be in MO, check into watching the contest on the Internet. Go to the Society website.

Keep an eye on your email box, as we continue to organize luggage details and sharing rides from the airport to the hotel.

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.)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Looking Back on the June 28th Chapter Meeting

This week’s rehearsal was one of the best sessions ever! After a fantastic warm up conducted by Will Cox, which got the guys ready to work and excited, Director Joe took over and he was prepared (as he is every week!). His lessons plan was clear to the chorus and it ran smoothly.

Joe teased the chorus with potential great news or really great news – which to share first? Potential news – the AC was due to remain on all evening! Hurray. It did actually go off about 10:15.

Good news – the Harmonizers will appear on the “America Sings” show – likely July 13th at 9 pm on the Gospel Music Channel. Stay tuned for details. Many other barbershop groups will appear as well.

Joe expressed appreciation to Brad Jones for his leadership for the East Coast Harmony show. And Joe thanked Tony Colosimo for helping with the director duties while Joe was working with his Sweet Adeline chorus. (YeEd will add some details about the ECH further in this week’s Looking Back column.)

Joe conducted a huge “SIGH” for the chorus to put aside the months of hard work on the major performances we have had already this year. Now we can concentrate on contest preparation.

And Joe and his music team, including Geri Geis, worked hard until break.

Chapter vp, Mark Klostermeyer, conducted this week’s chapter meeting session. He led a moment of silence – so you could hear the AC unit!!

Chapter secretary, Chris Buechler, presented membership renewal cards to the following: Jay Butterfield for 38 years; Don Dillingham for 2 years; Will Mudd Simmons for 5 years; Tony Colosimo for 18 years; Ken Rub for 20 years. Bill Colosimo was given his 35 year renewal card and a 35-year pin.

K12 did a bandana check for the Class of 2011!

Membership vp, Phil Ashford, introduced guests including Ian Poulin’s parents and their family friends. It was great to see some other Harmonizer friends in the hall this week – Martin Banks, Geoff Bermen, and Al Hanenbaum. Dick Hall reports that Carolyn is home now and doing her therapy each day to mend the broken leg.

Guys got a break and enjoyed the goodies which included orange slices and grapes which Dean Rust had brought from this past weekend (goodies for the performers). He even bagged them so guys could grab a supply and move along.

After break, the meeting continued. As is normal the week before International convention, there were a bunch of announcements.

There is a mandatory rehearsal on Thursday evening at the school next to Durant. We need a riser crew to unload props and risers for that location.

Also there is a need for a work crew to transfer things we need in Kansas City from the Harmo van to a larger rental truck (that has working AC!!). Watch for detail emails. Bob Blair is heading up this project. “And you ain’t seen nothin, til you see how he can squeeze a full load of our props and stuff into a truck!”

Related to this is an offer from chapter leaders to allow members to put a bag on the truck, subject to left over space. $10 a bag. Details also to come out via email. Fees will help cover rental cost of the truck for the chapter, and save the member from paying airline baggage fees. (Thanks for the idea, Scott Kahler.)

Music vp, Terry Reynolds, suggested everyone review the convention week schedule now, so they know when we are having our extra rehearsals out there in MO. He reminded all of the singers of Joe’s plea for guys to work on their own so when they get on the risers, it is “Joe’s time.”

Terry also stressed the uniform code of patent leather shoes for the stage.

President Steven Murane presented cash support to Kellen Hertz, Dan O’Brien and DA CAPO guys, Ryan, Tony, Joe S and Wayne, so they can all attend Harmony University in MO later in the summer. Kellen and Dan will attend classes as individuals and the others will be a quartet enrolled in classes. The chapter has budgeted scholarships like this over the years and we have benefitted from the many men who have attended this intense, week-long, barbershop school. YeEd hopes those guys will write up a little something when they get back to share with us.

Quartet promotion chair, Eric Wallen, recognized DA CAPO also as one of the four representatives in the quartet contest at International from our Mid Atlantic District. And of course we are darn proud that all of them are from our chapter. The other quartets are OLD SCHOOL, FRANK THE DOG and ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT.

Then back to singing. As it turned out, we worked the whole nite on the ballad. And what progress – wonderful softs, word emphasis, theater performances by every man, hi energy entertainment.

Joe had a meeting with the basses about some spots and Tony worked with the guys on the risers. When the basses returned, Tony directed so Joe could coach. Joe also asked the section leaders to stand out front to check on some points he was working on. Team work at its best!

At the end of the nite, Joe thanked the guys for the tons of hours and hard work and willingness to “stand there and take it” week after week. He was grateful for each guy – we are the third largest chorus in the contest this summer at 99. Masters of Harmony from CA have like 120 and Denver has just over 100.

Just like clockwork, the AC went off and our guys jumped in and took things down and put things away.

After KTWWS directed by Jay Butterfield, many guys headed over to the Hilton for a relaxing afterglow. As is often the case, a few of the guys had to jump up and run from the afterglow to catch the Metro into the city.

Reminder – if you offered the use of a cooler for the Harmo Hideway (hospitality room at International where our “family” hangs out), bring it on Thurs. nite to the rehearsal so it can go on the truck.

And here is more follow up for the East Coast Harmony show. Brad thanked several folks which YeEd did not include in his report on Monday: Joe Cerutti and Scott Kahler for sponsoring and hosting the emcee for the show; Ken White as afterglow emcee; Catherine Colosimo for developing the show flyer; Steve Lingo for Facebook promotion; the riser crews and script writing crews, and Sam McFarland for hosting CAPRI. Brad also reported that Ken Fess has purchased the huge American flag for our chapter to use on shows like was used during “Stars and Stripes” on Sunday. A huge audience pleaser. Thanks Ken.

YeEd learned last nite that Bruce and Connie Lauther hosted 14 friends from the Carnegie Hall event who came to see our show this past weekend. Mike Shirota and folks from the New York City Japan Choral Harmony group rented a bus to come down to see us all again. They wrote glowing reports about the show to Bruce.

YeEd also missed a few names of folks who were in the audience for the show – Bob Caldwell and John and Sara Thompson.

Our chorus fans were sending news from all around the world – we got the traditional “break a leg “message from Rick Wagner, now deployed as a contractor in Afghanistan.; and a note from Chuck Hunter in Syria wishing he could be here in person to hear the great singing.

Just a sneak preview—here are the Harmonizer quartets who have qualified to sing in the MAD fall contest in Lancaster:

DOWTOWN (Frank Fedarko, Arthur Louis, Drew Fuller)
MAD HATTERS (Steve White, Rick Taylor)
MAYHEM (Kenny White, Mike Pinto)
ROLL O’ THE DICE (Bill Colosimo)

TOUCHSTONE (Steve White) are the outgoing 2011 District Champs

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.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Looking Back on the East Coast Harmony Show, June 26

What a show!!! Another great success organized by the Harmonizers to share our hobby with other barbershoppers, introduce our music to our patons and friends and a lot of new barbershop harmony fans, and to present our exciting 2011 contest package for local fans who won’t get to see it on stage in Kansas City.

Our performance was at the George Mason University Concert Hall in Fairfax at 2 pm on Sunday, June 26, 2011. The auditorium is great, the back stage is easy to use, and it handles a large crowd of singers.

Brad Jones did yeoman work to pull this one off. YeEd thinks it might have been his idea and he made it happen – with a lot of help from fellow chapter members and FRIENDS.

Here is the run-down on acts for the show. The Harmonizers wowed the audience with the opening set including crowd pleasers “Great Day” and “Stars and Stripes.” Our buddies from down Richmond way, Soundworks chorus, brought a whole new sound and style to the audience. DA CAPO is a new quartet for many of our fans and you could hear the excitement in the crowd response after they sang their first song. (No wonder they won “audience favorite” in the Harmony Sweepstakes contests they won earlier this spring!)

‘ROUND MIDNIGHT is so much fun and the audience loved their energy and fun style. The cheers showed it.

Director Joe Ceruitti had a busy weekend as director of both the Harmonizers and the really successful Pride of Baltimore Sweet Adeline chorus. The POB sang a great set and entertained in classy style.

It was fun to have the Chorus of the Chesapeake from Dundalk, MD, on the show with us. Altho our choruses are only about 50 miles apart, we don’t get to sing together that often (especially since the M-AD took Dundalk out of the southern division years ago) Their director, Rick Taylor and fellow Harmonizer, was a fun emcee for them and used some of his best stories on the show’s incredible audience.

CAPRI warmed the hearts of all of the audience with their fun style and intimate story-telling-thru-music technique. The Harmonizers surprised them with special recognition as our 2011 recipients of the Harmony Award, given to non-Harmonizers for the things they do to bring real harmony into the lives of others. President Steve Murane made the presentations to each of the quartet members. They have been a key factor in the success of the Harmonizer’s youth harmony festival every year. The Alexandria chapter also will send a contribution to the SAI foundation for youth programs in the name of CAPRI. Thanks ladies.

Keeping all these acts going for the audience was guest emcee, Bob Cearnal, past BHS president and a frequent emcee for the Society’s International contests. Bob was fun and helped the audience provide support and enthusiastic responses to the entertainers. Bob and his wife spent the weekend in DC with us. He is also a member of the Ambassadors in Harmony near St. Louis, MO.

The afterglow, headed by Ken White and Cheryl Wallen, was a great success. It was at the Kena Shriners Ballroom on Rte. 50, which is a great location. And Cheryl and her crew of family and friends (including brother Eric!) made us all welcome. The taco-bar idea was fun too. As you can imagine, she practically had to use a snow plow to get us out of the hall! It was fun.

As you can imagine, there were lots of Harmonizers asked to help with the tasks needed to pull off the show. YeEd will take a stab at recognition of workers for the show:
Dean Rust – snacks backstage for the performers
Bob Blair and Dennis Ricthey – prop repair and re-painting
Mark Klostermeyer – chorus manager
Tony Colosimo and Will Cox – chorus warm ups as assistant directors
Dixie Kennett and Scott Kahler – tech support for lighting and sound
Ian Poulin – afterglow ticket sales
FRIENDS – sales of CDs and other materials for guest quartets and all of the choruses including our materials
Greg Tepe and Craig Odell –stage escorts for the many performers
Keith Jones – host for ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT

Other news YeEd can report. Paul Greiner and his wife brought a guest from the Greensprings residence, where they live – Walter Latzko’s brother. They met him recently at the cafeteria there during meal time.

Many guys from the Harmony Heritage Singers chapter were at the show.

Many familiar faces from the Harmonizer ranks were spotted in the lobby before the show – Bob Braunstein, Barry Galloway, Ross Johnson, Dale Houser, Jeff and Randy and Cecil Ashford, Larry Fagley, Eric Hughes, Terry Jordan, Scott Disney, Royall and Geri Geis.

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. —YeEd.)