Thursday, June 28, 2012

Looking Back on the June 26th Chapter Meeting

Chorus members had trouble getting in on time this week – some traffic, some just enjoying a great summer nite.  But in the end, the risers were full and we had 15 plus guests, and several members back with us this week.

The call-to-the-risers was listening to Toronto’s contest package from 2002.

Assistant director Will Cox did vocal warm ups and then yielded to director Joe Cerutti.

Before he started us singing, Joe praised the chorus for their hard work in preparation and then in executing a great for-pay gig at Constitution Hall for the annual Jefferson Awards.  We teased him about his picture with Harry Conick Jr. and he shared all the details of how it happened.  We enjoyed the inside scoop.

Joe confessed he was pretty worried about some things for the show like the walk-in and the extra songs we had to add for their producer.  But it was all great.  Kudos to the 82 guys who sang the show, to the soloists, emcees, our in-house show producer Greg Tepe, show salesman Bruce Lauther, riser crews, and chorus manager Mark Klostermeyer.

There was a New Member Bootcamp with Will Cox and membership vp Phil Ashford.

Then we sang a few reps of another new song to learn – “Circle of Life” which we will sing with Toronto in China and likely add to the repertoire.  Our TBD group will sing the patter with us.

And then from out of the past, we sang three more songs the musical leaders hope to add to the usable repertoire – “Drunken Soldier,” “Armed Forces Medley,” and “That’s Amore.”

It was warm in Durant, but we pushed on.

The chapter meeting was conducted by operations vp Scott Kahler. Chapter secretary Chris Buechler presented a 9-year membership renewal card to Craig Kujawa.   Brad Jones returned passport to some of the guys going to China.

Membership vp Phil welcomed the long line of guests which included a number of applicants for membership (a couple just filled out their forms tonite); several guys from other barbershop chapters who were in DC metro area visiting family while on vacation; family and friends of members and guests, and some potential singers with us for the first time.  As is our tradition, they were greeted with handshakes by the director, president and membership vp, while Will Cox directed us in singing the “Harmo Welcome Song” to the guests. A number of members were back too – YeEd recalls Dean Rust, Adam Bradley, Bob Wilson, Bob Ulibarri, Wayne Adams, Joe Sawyer.

The chorus was given a 15-minute break for refreshments, business matters, and quartet singing.

Chapter meeting continued after the break with our International quartet send off.  Steve White recognized the Harmonizers in quartets headed to Portland next week – Ken White and Mike Pinto in MAYHEM; Jay Butterfield and Andrew Havens in TOP SHELF; and Tony Colosimo, Wayne Adams and Joe Sawyer in DA CAPO.  This is the first time to the “big dance” for Ken and Andrew.  Break-a-leg greetings to all.  The chapter presents a convention registration for each Harmo in a quartet that represents us at International.

Ellen Dellert represented the FRIENDS OF HARMONY who also honored our quartet guys. She also gave MAYHEM a roll of wild-color duck tape in case they get another broken trophy that needs to be held together (as they did when they won the Southern Division in 2011.)

Shows vp Brian Ammerman asked guys to wrap up ticket sales matters from the spring show; mark their calendar for the July 3 chapter meeting – a summer hospital sing at Inova Alexandria on Seminary Road; and to mark their calendar for the Aug 11 show in Lancaster PA.

President Steve Murane presented an Honorary Membership to Greg Tepe for his work as our show producer for major for-hire events.  Thanks Greg.

Then, as promised in an earlier email to all, Steve announced a great opportunity for the chapter and chorus recently approved by the board, pending chapter member approval.  The Alexandria Harmonizers have been invited to be the primary entertainment of the United States contingent at the 70th anniversary celebration of the D-Day landings in June, 2014, in Normandy, France. 

The gentleman who offered the invitation to us is Mr. Earl Hurrey, a retired Marine and former member of the Marine Corps Band. There's another member of the Marine Corps Band in our midst who has nagged Earl for the last few decades about how good the Harmonizers are and even got him to attend some of our shows where he could finally see for himself what a quality group we are, which led him to think of us first when he was given the opportunity to organize this show. So a huge thank you must be sent out to Ike Evans for all he did to help us secure this wonderful gig. It's guys like Ike who do a lot of things behind the scenes but don't get recognized often enough who make this chorus great. Please say thank you to him the next time you see him.

The chorus members in attendance gave their unanimous vote to approve as did director Joe.  Stay tuned for more details.

After this meeting session, director Joe taught the barbershop craft session.

We ended the evening with some solid work on the fall contest package.

Guys went right to work on putting the house always and a large crowd came to the Hilton for 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.)

Looking Back on the June 19th Jefferson Awards at Constitution Hall

The Harmonizers Chorus was a featured performer in historic DAR Constitution Hall on Tuesday, June 19th for the 40th Annual Jefferson Awards! The Jefferson Awards were founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and CEO Sam Beard. They are the "Nobel Prize" for Public Service in America and a veritable "Who's Who" of outstanding Americans. Past recipients include Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Bush, Henry Kissinger, Peyton Manning and Arthur Ashe.

The Harmonizers helped provide back-up music for parts of the award ceremony and then did their own set to conclude the show.

Here are reports from Alan Wile, Steve White and Bruce Lauther helping YeEd record this important event in our chapter’s history – YeEd.

First from Alan: The behind-the-scenes Harmonizer story began sometime before 10 am when Bob Blair and Howard Nestlerode picked up the Harmo-truck and drove it to the loading dock at DAR Constitution Hall. In addition, Greg Tepe, Ken Rub, Carlos Correa, Scott Kahler, and Alan Wile were on hand to unload but so were about a dozen Constitution Hall employees who, in fact, did most of the hauling, helped set up the riser, and “dress” the risers. We were done in less than an hour, although Greg and Scott remained to work out some details with the producer and the production crew.

That was it until about 5 pm when Harmonizers began to arrive. We had access to three dressing rooms with chairs, mirrors, sinks, and ceiling mounted pole racks for uniforms. Bottled water was provided by the caterers. We milled around for a bit and chorus manager Mark Klostermeyer (K-12) put out the word re: snacks: “eat ‘em if you’ve got ‘em.”

At 5:45 Will Cox conducted the warm-up in one of our narrow, rather confining, L-shaped dressing rooms. Then we lined up to go on stage ... but, typically in such productions, there was a great deal of hurry up and wait which continued most of the evening. Finally we made it to the stage. We stood while the producer and crew worked out some show details, some of which affected us. As expected there were a few changes to the script and to our portion of the program. We worked on our entrance through the hall (singing “Battle Hymn”) a couple of times, conducted a silent drill of “Great Day” choreo, but actually sang very little. Probably the major change for us was to switch from “oo-ing” to “words” on the tag of “Climb Every Mountain.” Don Dillingham worked his recitation; Tony Colosimo and Doug White were mic’d for their solo/duet in the “Jersey Boys Medley”; and Mike Kelly was also mic’d for his speaking part in “Jersey Boys.” All this time Greg, Scott, K-12 were out front coordinating with director Joe Cerutti.

There was a reporter/photographer from The Washington Post observing, photographing, and interviewing members all evening for an article which appear Monday, June 25th. Unfortunately the web link didn’t work properly so those who wanted to watch the evening proceedings online were disappointed.

By 7:45 pm the chorus was dressed and made up. The chorus (now feeling a bit like sweaty sardines) rehearsed with Joe in a small square room identified as the “Caterer’s Room.” The 12 “patter singers” (who backed up Jason Graae singing a parody of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “I Am A Very Model Of A Modern Major General”) rehearsed and later performed.

Sometime after 9 pm. we proceeded to the lobby and lined up for our grand entrance. Still much waiting, we actually didn’t enter the hall until about 9:50. We marched in through the center aisle and split at the front of the hall to enter the stage from right and left while singing “Battle Hymn.” Next, we hummed “Climb Every Mountain” (and broke into words for the tag) while the Howard University Chaplain spoke. Then we stood as General Petraeus was introduced and received his award. Then we gave a rousing performance of “Great Day” followed immediately by the “Jersey Boys Medley.” It was clear that the audience enjoyed our numbers – they even clapped in tempo to a portion of the medley. Lastly, after all the new and former Jefferson Award winners, Sam Beard, Lesley Stahl, the Board of Directors, etc. came to the stage, we led the entire room singing “God Bless America.”

That concluded the show and as soon as we were able we exited the stage, returned to our dressing rooms, and prepared to leave ... and tear down the risers and repack the truck. A fun but tiring day. And, I’m pleased to report that the parking garage at 1800 G Street remained open long enough for us who parked there to retrieve our cars.


Next from Steve: Director Joe had his wish come true and got his picture taken with Harry Connick, Jr. WOW, WOW, WOW, what a night at the 40th Annual Jefferson Awards!!! … a standing “O” from the audience after the “Jersey Boys Medley”.  Harry and football legand Jim Kelly gave us a thumbs-up and said we were “awesome”, and we heard high praise and accolades from Leslie Stahl, Gen. Petraeus, co-founder Sam Beard and his family, show producer Rupert Hitzig, and many-many others.  Keep your tails in good shape ‘cuz we may get more opportunities like this one again in the near furture.  Well done, boyyyyyzzzz!  And a big thanks to our producer Greg Tepe and, of course, Bruce Lauther for his work in getting us this performance.


Third from Bruce: I visited with the attendees at last evening's gala event as they exited the DAR Constitution Hall. I went by the lines forming to the buses whisking them back to further revelries at the Hyatt Regency. Locking eyeballs seemed to do the trick. Generally, over a dozen people stepped out of line, and spoke to me as I passed them by, still in sweaty tails and white tie, carrying a costume bag, en route to the parking garage.

Most frequently expressed words from those who reached out to grasp my arm or shake my hand in front of the venue: "You were AWESOME;" "AWESOME," You were...WOW; "AMAZING"; "...Took my breath away..."; "WONDERFUL"; "Where do you next appear? ... China?...No stuff. You are great"; "Absolutely Fantastic."; "Remarkable"; "Memorable"; "simple: "Thank you's"; etc.

Longtime Hamonizer and fan, Father Joe Witmer was there as a nice surprise last night. He will be going to China. We had an impromptu discussion of a future traveling package show to share the stage with the Hall of Fame Chorus in Canton, Ohio.

I loved the professionalism exhibited behind the scenes and on stage of our Master Music Director; Associate and Assistant Director(s); Producer Greg Tepe; Deputy to Producer Scott Kahler; Scipio Garling; Chuck McKeever; and the ever present, reassuring presence of Khorus Manager K-12. It doesn't get much more "fun-ner" than this, does it? I think not.


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.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Looking Back Report on Harmony College East, 2012

Thanks to Keith Jones - here is his report from HCE.

YeEd -- Jack Pitzer

-----Original Message-----
From: Keith Jones
To: Jack Pitzer
Sent: Sat, Jun 16, 2012 9:56 pm
Subject: HCE 2012 Harmo-Attendance

Greetings from Salisbury!

Don't know if anyone else is doing for your "looking back" column, but
here's a list of Harmonizers who have attended this weekend. Among the
groups being coached were Harmony Heritage Singers (Mt. Vernon), TOP SHELF, MAD HATTERS, DA CAPO, YOUTH RECLAMATION PROJECT, and a quartet with Michael Gilmore. Several
former Harmonizers were also present.

Gary Plaag ran the Youth In Harmony Camp (41 participants) again this
year. Several of us coached quartets and others were here with Bob
chorus. Still others filled administrative positions
throughout the weekend.

Here's the list, in no particular order:

Wile, Alan
Jones, Keith
Colosimo, Bill
Colosimo, Tony
Adams, Wayne
Wallen, Mike
Wallen, Eric
Havens, Andrew
Butterfield, Jay
Gilmore, Michael
Wachter, Bob
Hirsh, Bob
Felker, Ross
Harner, Chuck
Plaag, Gary
Eckman, Bob
Price, JT
Fedarko, Frank
Fuller, Drew
White, Steve
Taylor, Rick
Cotton, Austin

Sawyer, Joe
Kelly, Mike

Harmoniously, Keith

Looking Back on the June 10th Show at Leisure World and the June 12th Chapter Meeting

After the successful spring show at George Mason on June 9th, the chorus went out the next day and did a big show at Leisure World in Silver Spring.

The venue was the Interfaith Chapel there and the audience of seniors was grateful for the good show. The acoustics there were awesome.

Musically it was a repeat of the Saturday nite show with less costume changes, an extra song, and just two quartets.

MAYHEM with Matt Fellows, Neil Dingle, Mike Pinto and Ken White, who are headed to Portland this summer, sang for us; as did ACME CHORD COMPANY, who recently took first place at the Southern Division Contest, with Dan O’Brien, Chris Susalka, Paul Grimes and Chris Yates.

Bruce Lauther gets the nod and thanks for having lined up this show for us. Greg Tepe was producer for the show.  Scipio Garling and Mike Kelly introduced songs.  The riser crew had to work to fit things into the chapel area.  Thanks to them. Also thanks to the Bobs – Blair and Rhome – for packing the truck Sat nite for the Sun show so Carl Kauffmann could drive it out to MD. Scott Kahler did the sound board.

We were welcomed to the show by Dr. Bartman, minister of music at Leisure World chapel.

The June 12th chapter meeting and rehearsal were work sessions in preparation for the huge gig at DAR Constitution Hall on Tuesday, June 19th for the Jefferson Awards.  We are doing some extra songs to help the show for back up of award winners, making a grand entry, and singing some tribute music to winners, all in addition to two chorus songs.

First tho, Director Joe Cerutti gave those in the hall a sneak preview of the ballad for Toronto International, arranged by Wayne Grimmer.

Joe also was proud of the two awesome shows this past weekend.  Now on to the one next week!

Associate director Tony Colosimo did the vocal warm ups and turned the chorus over to Joe to work on the songs for the show.  Meanwhile a photographer from The Washington Post was in the hall to shoot action shots to go with a future article the newspaper is planning.

We sang the new music and the “Great Day” and “Jersey Boys” over and over to be prepared.

The chapter meeting period was conducted by operations vp Scott Kahler.  All those needing to turn in their deposits to Brad Jones for the China trip were encouraged to do so!

Show producer for the 19th, Greg Tepe, reviewed some important details that guys needed to know such as the chorus call is 5:30; nearest Metro is reportedly 7 blocks away; DAR is a Union House so no touching, talking, moving, sitting or being late, but remain flexible; we will have three dressing rooms so change when you are told to; singer entrance to DAR is at 18th and C Streets.

Uniform chairman Tom Kern was taking shirt sizes for a new casual shirt the chorus is planning to get.

Chapter secretary Chris Buechler presented a Man of Note pin to Bruce Lauther for bringing in John Greene. Craig Odell received his membership renewal card for 43 years; Jim Lake for 19 years; Tony Colosimo for 19 years; and Ike Evans for 25 years, including his special pin.

Assistant director Terry Reynolds is working with a small group of singers to do another special number for the show.

Membership vp Phil Ashford introduced a long line of guests including his parents, Cecil and Patty Ashford; several guys who are applicants for membership; a couple former members; some family members; a district official; and Burt Szabo, former BHS staffer.

There was a 10 minute break, and since we were using the adjacent school hall, we didn’t make coffee, but there were goodies thanks to Ellen, Jack, Matt Kahn, and leftovers from the Sunday show rescued by Ross Felker.

After the break the meeting continued, with some guys reclaiming the items they had lost at the shows.

President Steve Murane reported that we earned $2650 for the Sunday show. 

And he honored the successful show producer, Nick Leiserson, with a plaque.  There was a round of loud cheers for the good work by Nick and the team of folks he recognized and thanked. (An earlier Looking Back column reported those who made contributions.)

Terry Reynolds also announced that songs for the chorus to learn for the China trip are coming online.

He also reported that the chapter meeting on July 3rd will likely be the Hospital sing, and then there will be a regular rehearsal on July 10th.  There will be a retreat all day Saturday Sept 29 in prep for our contest appearance in Ocean City, Oct. 13th.  We will also have an extra rehearsal on Wed. Oct. 10th.

Then it was back to work on the show music with drills for stage presence.  Don Dillingham will recite a poem while the chorus sings.  Tony Colosimo and Doug White will do the solos for “Jersey Boys” this time.

Before we left the hall, there was a drill to practice the march in plan for the DAR show.

Burt Z closed the meeting with KTWWS.

During the early part of the meeting, there was a meeting of the FRIENDS OF HARMONY.

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.)