Thursday, October 18, 2012

Looking Back on District Fall Contest and Convention 2012 Ocean City

The Alexandria Harmonizers won their 24th Mid Atlantic District Chorus championship this past weekend in Ocean City, MD. It was particularly fun to reprise the 1995 Gold Medal contest package with “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” with a 98-member chorus. The chorus wore yellow shirts and ties with the black suits.  The front row used black hats with matching yellow trim.

This win earns the chorus the opportunity to return to International chorus competition in Toronto next summer.

In addition to the chorus contest, a number of Harmonizers were in the district quartet contest and two of our chapter quartets made it into the finals round for Saturday nite.

 MAYHEM ended up with a cumulative score that earned them second place after a fantastic hit that actually placed them first in the finals round. They surprised us all with their wildly colorful new full tux outfits – shoes, suit, ruffled shirt, vest, top hat and cane – in orange, red, yellow and green.  (They even have matching water bottles in those same colors as we saw at afterglows!)

ACME CHORD COMPANY, in their first district contest, was seventh with two good sets. 

YOUTH RECLAMATION PROJECT was the mic tester quartet for the finals placing eleventh.  Immediate past district champs MAD HATTERS was mic tester quartet for Friday nite quartet contest.

In total we had seven quartets in this contest.  A great showing.

MAYHEM  (Matt Fellows, Neil Dingle, Mike Pinto, Kenny White) was 2nd.

ACME CHORD COMPANY (Dan O’Brien, Chris Susalka, Paul Grimes, Chris Yates) was 7th.

YOUTH RECLAMATION PROJECT (seniors) (Hardman Jones, Mike Wallen, Roger Tarpy, Vic Owen) was 11th.

MINT CONDITION (Bob Rodriguez. Jr., Kevin McKenzie, Drew Fuller, Arthur Louis) was 18th.

WHISTLE STOP (w Dan O’Brien, Randy Eliason, Phil Ashford, Calvin Schnure) was 21st.

 OLD TOWN SOUND (seniors) (Alan Kousen, Bob Caldwell, Bob Mattes, Dave Welter) was 22nd.

CHORD WORX ( Doug White, Tim Buell, Don Thompson, Edris Qarghah) was 24th.

The outgoing district Champs and mic testers was MAD HATTERS (Rob Seay V, Scott Disney, Rick Taylor, Steve White)

As pledged, the chapter was a built-in cheering section for the quartets and on Saturday nite, director Joe, was head cheerleader for our two finalist foursomes. The chorus also helped set up the political convention set for the parody songs by WHISTLE STOP on Friday nite.

The whole chapter was in town early for a big day Saturday and most made the drive from DC area without much delay.  Everyone likely managed to get some good seafood too.  One of our guys had the shortest drive ever for him to join us – Len Dornberger actually lives in Dover, DE, and commutes to Alexandria every week.  But that means Tom Berkey had an extra long drive from his home in Williamsburg, VA.  He too commutes every week to Alexandria.

Craig Kujawa did a yeomen’s job in organizing things for the chapter including getting us into a convenient hotel with a good practice area.  The truck drivers and riser crew had things all set up for our 8 am chorus call on Saturday morning. Assistant director Will Cox did the vocal warm ups.  Mark Klostermeyer, our chorus manager, kept control and helped us get from point-to-point all weekend.  And the guys respected his authority and appreciated his attention to detail. Assistant director Terry Reynolds was always on top of his game with details – including a score sheet from previous contests to tell us how our score compared!

Craig expressed thanks to Bob Rhome for doing the registrations and other detail work to help us all get there; Scott Kahler for making it possible for guys to register via Groupanizer; Jack Cameron for being chorus photo honcho; Howard Nestlerode for truck driving; and Bob Blair for helping load the truck to go to OC.

Associate director Tony Colosimo helped Will with warm ups and helped prepare the chorus for some technical aspects of their singing rehearsal.  Geri Geis was there for the morning period and back stage too and helped us keep up our performance levels. 

The chorus contest started at 9 am.  Many family and friends were at the gathering Saturday morning and then headed over to the convention center, while we continued to prepare. We recessed to put on make-up then changed to our uniforms. Presentation chairman Scipio Garling had to conduct a special training session about our use of make-up for the many new men who had never competed with the Harmonizers.

YeEd thinks this was the first contest for the following new guys: Dave Branstetter, Carlos Barillo, David DesPortes, Ross Felker, John Oswald Greene, Rich Hewitt, Peter Hubbard, Stan Quick, Ben Roberts, Steve Szyszka and Mike Vlcej. Welcome aboard!

Everyone made it to the contest site and assembled in our dressing area there. Chuck Hunter offered some useful advice just before we went on to the stage with just two words – Always New.  Earlier in the day, Craig Kujawa caused a good laugh when he suggested we disperse “like molecules.”  It got a laugh, gave Joe ammo for future jabs, but everyone remembered to do it.

Our FRIENDS OF HARMONY group took a couple minutes to present each singer a token to take on stage as support and encouragement after remarks from their president Sandy Stamps.

We took the stage in character for our ballad and did so slowly and emotionally.  The audience knew they were in for a treat. We exited the stage in cheering and excitement from both sides and out into the audience.  There were only a couple choruses left, so the results came quickly.

Alexandria earned 1573 points for 87.4%.  The second place chorus from Hamilton Square, NJ, earned 1508 points for 83.8% with 76 singers.  The third place chorus from Hell’s Kitchen, NY, earned 1494 points for 83% with 40 singers.

After the contest Director Joe Cerutti and the chorus assembled on the stage to meet with judges who represented the judging panel and gave us input about our scores and ideas for make improvements. The sessions were long enough that many of our singers were able to ask questions.

More than once over the weekend, Joe shared his joy about the months of dedication and work by the chorus and also for his musical team help in making the forward leaps in our performances.

For the Saturday nite show of champions, the top three choruses sang.  We sang “I’m The Music Man,” “Circle of Life” with MAYHEM doing the solos and TBD doing the background patter, and “Sweet Georgia Brown.”  Joe decided to do the contest uptune since there were so many really new singers in our chorus who did not know “Jersey Boys” just yet – and he didn’t want to leave them out.  We all appreciated the many new men who have worked so hard to catch up.

The MAD HATTERS sang on the champs show as did a chorus of past quartet champs. That chorus welcomed the quartet winners to the stage and sang to them.  Many men from our chapter are in that chorus as past district champs, and it was great to see them all up there on stage.  Here again, YeEd is going from memory to create the list: Wayne Adams, Joe Sawyer, Craig Odell, Jay Butterfield, Rick Savage, Rick Taylor, Mike Wallen. Plus Tony and Bill Colosimo directed the MADAQC chorus of champs; Gary Plaag was their emcee; and Steve White is the organizer of the champs and keeps in touch with all of them.

First place quartet was FRANK THE DOG – our friends from PA that have helped us with our youth harmony event.  MAYHEM was second and UP ALL NIGHT was third.

It was good to be back in Ocean City, MD, after a number of years trying other locations. The host chapter for the contest weekend was Bryn Mawr, PA.  Jack Pitzer and Matt Kahn  helped the host chapter by getting judges who had flights into National Airport over to the contest.

As usual, there were lots of Harmonizers seen all weekend.  Dick Hall helped our guys get their tickets from the will call desk at registration in the convention center.  Tony Colosimo was a practicing judge and sat with the panel for the quartet contests. The truck drivers brought the Harmo banner and it was proudly displayed in the convention hall.

The contest was webcast for those who could not attend.  Joe Cerutti and Eric Wallen were hosts for parts of the weekend.  Mike Kelly was working hard to video record the event for contestants.  Bill Colosimo was emcee for the quartet first round of the quartet contest. Dennis Ritchey was emcee for the chorus contest and helped coordinate back stage operations all weekend. He is on the district events team along with Carl Kauffmann, the team’s treasurer.

As committee chair, Mike Wallen announced this year’s MAD Honor Club members with fellow Harmonizers on the stage – Chuck Harner, Steve White, Alan Wile, Gary Plaag, Jack Pitzer, BobWachter, Terry Jordan, John Hohl and Bill Colosimo. One of our guys, Rick Taylor, was added to the Honor roll. Congrats Rick.

Many of the district board and operations team are Harmonizers and they deserve a shout out for their extra work: Gary Plaag, Bill Colosimo, Bob Eckman, Keith Jones, Dennis Ritchey, Chuck Harner, Alan Wile and Mike Kelly. In official district meetings, Bill Colosimo was elected as incoming M-AD president – a solid honor after serving the district in so many other leadership capacities.

Some current Harmonizers were part of other chorus competitors. Mike Wallen directed the Richmond chorus and Mike Geipel sang with them. Bill Colosimo directed the Washington DC chorus and Don Dillingham and Bob Wells sang with them. Bob Wilson sang with James River. Gary Plaag sang with Fairfax. Rick Taylor directed Dundalk.

It was a great Harmonizer weekend and great kick off for the Alumni Nite special event on Tues, Oct. 16th.  All are invited to share in the fun from the weekend and to launch the next great series of events for the chapter and chorus.

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.)

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