Thursday, October 11, 2012

Looking Back on the 2012 Harmonizer Trip to China

The Alexandria Harmonizers experienced a fantastic trip-of-a-lifetime in China!  We left on September 2nd for seven-, nine-, twelve- or fifteen-day tours depending on the trip package offered by the tour company, SNA.

About sixty Harmonizers went on the trip along with many family members and guests. The entire group was about 160 people.

The chorus sang for two China audiences.  We performed a short concert that was arranged for us on The Great Wall, which included a spot for a pickup quartet THE GREAT WALL OF SOUND with Randy Lazear, Joe Cerutti, Ken Ives and Steve White.

Tourists at the wall were given a show package with “Great Day,” “I’m The Music Man”, “Sweet Georgia Brown’, “Rainbow Sisters” – a Chinese folk song, and “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Surrounded by the awesome sights of the Great Wall of China, it was an experience that will not soon be forgotten.

On Thursday, Sept. 6th, we performed an evening concert at the Peoples Concert Hall, located in the Forbidden City.  It was a gorgeous space with crustal-clear acoustics.  We were joined by fellow barbershoppers from Toronto Northern Lights for this show.

The Harmonizers sang a 40-minute package, Toronto sang a 30 minute package, and the two choruses sang together for several songs.  Both choruses had learned a song from each other and both learned the traditional Chinese folk song, “Rainbow Sister” that was very well received by the audiences.  The primarily Chinese audience clapped along in time with the combined choruses.

After five days in Beijing, some Harmonizers returned home while others traveled on to experience more of China.  Those that continued saw the Terra Cotta Warriors, near Xi’ An, the iconic limestone karst formations in the Giulin province, an overnight stay in a mountain lodge in the village of Ping’ An, and visits to the cities of Shanghai and Hong Kong.

An estimate of the entire party suggests that after the 160 started in Beijing, 75 were in Xi’ An; 37 in Giulin; 17 in Shaghai; and 7 in Hong Kong  Also Craig Kujawa and Ken Rub went early and visited some other places, like Lijiang, Dali, and Shangri La.

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.)

Looking Back on the Oct 9th Chapter Meeting

First off, the package show on Oct 5th went well.  Here is a recap from producer Greg Tepe.

Thank-you to the Harmonizers who came out to the National Portrait Gallery Friday night for our paid performance. I counted 58 singers. There are many thank-yous to give out to the team of Harmonizers that it takes to make a road show happen.


To Bruce Lauther who got us this gig and did the early footwork and paperwork.


To Howard Nestlerode and Drew Fuller who had Harmo-truck duty. Their evening started before 4pm and didn't end until after midnight.


To our directors, Tony, Terry and Will.


To Mike Kelly for setting up and running sound for the night. Mike even piped in the dinner music for the guests. Mike's work earned the chorus an extra $500.


To the early set-up crew - Carl Kauffmann, Chuck Powell, Chuck Hunter, Ken Rub, Ken White, Alan Wile and Carlos Correa who worked with Howard, Drew and Mike.

To our chorus manager, Mark Klostermeyer who keeps the chorus moving to the right places... and who did clean-up work in the dressing room at the end of the night.


To the late crew who helped tear down the gear and get the truck reloaded. Brian Ammerman, Edris Qarghah, Tom Kern, Alan Wile, Dave Welter, Scipio Garling, Noah Van Gilder, TJ Donahue, Terry Reynolds, Bob Blair, Kellen Hertz, Ross Felker, Chuck Hunter, and Nick Leiserson. The truck finally pulled away from the Gallery at about 11:15. For those who stayed to the end, and had to deal with the long carry out of the building.


I tried to get the names of all the volunteers that helped. If I missed anyone, my apologies for the oversight. Thank-you ALL.-- Greg Tepe


Tuesday nite, Oct. 9th, was full of excitement.  A good crowd of family and friends were on hand too.   Director Joe Cerutti was just back from coaching our fellow barbershoppers in Germany and was full of fun stories – including his trip to Octoberfest with David Wright!

Before the singing began, there was the usual bustle of set up, sales, tag singing, stage presence review on the stage, earlier refreshments for the many guys who come right from work, and some back-room rehearsal for quartets preparing to sing in the district contest this weekend.

Will Cox did the warm ups for tenors, baris and leads.  Mike Kelly did a warm down for the basses in a separate area at Durant.

First song we sang was “Circle of Life” which we hope to sing in Ocean City with MAYHEM.

Then we jumped right into the contest package.  Traffic was tough tonite but the risers were full by this time.

Joe challenged us that if we sang the package well he might even cancel the extra rehearsal set for Wed nite.  AND you should have heard that pitch pipe when we finished.  Joe didn’t back track and ate his words. But he was proud of the level we set.

We continued to drill sections of the songs, duet some parts, do reps on some sections to get precise on the rhythm, and reminded each other some important nuances’ for the stage moves. 

Mark Klostermeyer conducted the chapter meeting portion of the nite starting with reminders to buy Entertainment coupon books from Chuck Harner, buy White House Ornaments from Sandy Stamps, and buy 50/50 tickets from Dick or Carolyn Hall.

Secretary Chris Buechler presented a name tag to our newest member, Carlos Correa. Then Chris gave out membership renewal cards to Bob Blair for 13 years; Chris Yates for 13 years, Josh Roots for 14 years, and John Pence for 28 years.

Jacob George filled in for membership vp Phil Ashford to introduce our many guests with us this week.  Several were already applicants.

Mark gave us a good long break to take care of things like getting new uniform parts for the many guys who are singing in their first district contest with the Harmonizers.

After the break, secretary Buechler and  membership vp Ashford filled us all in on the plans underway for an Alumni Nite and our annual chapter meeting on Tues. Oct. 16.  Scheduled the week after the District contest while barbershop news is hot.  Chris provided Phil a long list of several hundred emails from former members and members who are not actively singing with the chorus. Kevin Kaiser helped get the lists ready to use for email blasts.

We will have special refreshments and welcome the guys and their families back. Usual time and place here at Durant.

Next topic was from shows vp Brian Ammerman who prompted all to add the November 11th Veteran’s Day singout to their calendars.  It is a daytime gig at a local school and the students plan the event and ask us to sing for them.

Brian also repeated the thanks you’s listed above for the Friday nite show.

Next he took a straw poll about singing on Sun., Dec. 16 th at 3 pm in Old Town – as we have done in years past.  The City of Alexandria is not planning to have concerts there this year.  A large number of guys raised their hands as being available and interested.

Finally he reported the good sales so far for the Holiday shows.  He did ask guys to work on getting more items for the Silent Auction plan Brad Jones is managing.  In addition, there will be a solid push to sell Singing Valentines at the the December shows.

Josh Roots, one of the show producers, gave a wrap up of plans and things guys should get busy on after contest: get a decent elf costume ready, offer names of friends and relatives who could do the Monk comedy number again (new guys – ask one of us what this is about!). And a change for 2012 – we are gonna wear the black suits with a white shirt and red tie vs the sweaters and scarves we have normally worn.

Craig Kujawa spoke about the importance of each singer having a convention registration. Assistant director Terry Reynolds filled us in on many details for Ocean City contest weekend. However, Terry and Craig promised an email on Wednesday  -- which we all received.

 A riser crew is needed at 7:30 am at the Harmonizer hotel – Holiday Inn Oceanfront at 67th and Oceanfront.

Chorus report time is 8 am.  Those not staying at that hotel will come with uniforms ready to change there. Also everyone will need their make-up kits.

Terry suggested that most of the day when not in the contest outfit, we could wear the new black Harmo casual shirt and jeans outfit.  We represent our great Harmonizer chapter all weekend!

Before we started singing again, we were treated to a fun quartet package from WHISTLESTOP with Dan O’Brien, Randy Elisason, Phil Ashford and Calvin Schnure. They wanted to try out their contest set with us before hitting the stage at the district contest.

Speaking of the district quartet contest, we are proud of our seven district qualifiers. Be sure to cheer these guys on and wish them the very best. Our musical director stressed this a couple times lat nite.) Note that the quartet contest starts at 6 pm at the Convention Center at 40th Street.  President Steve Murane lead the chapter in recognizing representatives of the these quartets that were at the meeting.

MAYHEM (Matt Fellows, Neil Dingle, Mike Pinto, Kenny White),

ACME CHORD COMPANY (Dan O’Brien, Chris Susalka, Paul Grimes, Chris Yates),

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

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

 CHORD WORX ( Doug White, Tim Buell, Don Thompson, Edris Qarghah),

OLD TOWN SOUND (seniors) (Alan Kousen, Bob Caldwell, Bob Mattes, Dave Welter),

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

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

So – we worked right up til 10 pm and fine tunes many little spots in the contest package.  The chorus contest actually starts Saturday at 9 am tho we won’t sing til about 12:30 pm. Immediately after the results are announced, we are expected to attend the evaluation session with judges.

Geri and Royall Geis will be with us in Ocean City.  And we look forward to the FRIENDS group support we always hear at contests when we enter the stage. They had a meeting Tuesday nite too.

The district leaders sent out word that anyone with a convention name tag can ride the Coastal Highway buses free to get to the convention center.

Here is a reminder of our legally required annual meeting. Your votes are important, so please come and support the selection of our next team. There can be no nominations from the floor on the 16th. The proposed 2013 slate:

President - Alan Wile
Treasurer - Dave Welter
Secretary - Chris Buechler
VP - Operations - Bob Rhome
VP - Shows - Ken Rub
VP - Music & Performance - Brad Jones
VP - Marketing & PR - Scipio Garling
VP - Chapter Development (Membership) - Mark Klostermeyer
Member at Large (two positions) - Josh Roots, Greg Tepe (Nick Leiserson and Troy Hillier will continue on from this year)

Immediate Past President - Steve Murane


To wrap up the nite, Joe thanked associate director Tony Colosimo for his work in getting the chorus far along on the singing track.  Joe was elated with our progress.  He asked each guy to use the free time created by cancelling the rehearsal on Wednesday to do some personal work before Ocean City. AND be there at 8 am sharp on Saturday morning.

Safe travels.  Allow plenty of time for the rush hour traffic on Friday!!

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.)