Saturday, November 9, 2013

Looking Back on the November 5th Chapter Meeting (as reported by Assistant Scribe, Dave Branstetter)

The Harmonizers met in the Music Room of First Baptist Church due to Durant Center being used as a polling site. Any inconvenience was more than outweighed by the knowledge that we will finally get a respite from the campaign TV ads!! Sandy Stamps staked out a spot for herself and the White House Christmas Ornaments.

Assistant director Will Cox conducted the warm up session, which led to chorus work on “O Holy Night”. The chorus then split up for 25 minutes worth of sectional rehearsals, giving us all a chance to fine tune some of the holiday music. As a side note, I must say the “Women’s Robing Room” might not have been terribly conducive to rehearsing, but its amenities rivaled those of any Country Club locker room I’ve seen!

The chorus reconvened in the Music Room, with Associate director Tony Colosimo leading. Director Joe Cerutti is in Hawaii this week with his Sweet Adeline’s chorus, The Pride of Baltimore, for their International Convention. As they say, good work if you can find it!! Best wishes to them and all the competitors (including quartet Shades of Jade who have their own ties to the Harmonizers). Tony started off with “Drunken Sailor”, urging the chorus to be mindful of the dynamic markings for the different sections of the piece – they’re not all the same! We then ran through “Little Drummer Boy”; basses and baris have to remember to apply the “pitch revisitation principle” for their parts. Tony wrapped up the first portion of rehearsal by working “Fa La La”, focusing on contrasting the different sections of the piece by changing our “vocal color”, not the volume, all while not sacrificing quality. He also hammered on the visual presentation plan for the song, both scripted choreography and facial expression (including the introduction of the “scared Dachshund” face – see Tony for a demonstration if you missed it!)

Membership VP Mark Klostermeyer started off the business meeting, filling in for Operations VP Bob Rhome. He referred the chorus to Greg Tepe’s email regarding the Nov 11th performance at Oakton Elementary School. Chorus call is at 8:30 and active duty or retired military may wear their uniform if they choose, suit/sport coat and tie for all others. He announced that Tony would be conducting auditions for the “Ave Maria” and “Do You Hear What I Hear” solos tonight and on Nov 12th. Mark noted there would also be a rehearsal for “the Monks” on Nov 12th and closed by reminding the chorus that assistant director Terry Reynolds would be leading an informal rehearsal on Thursday, Nov 7th, from 7:00-9:00pm at Durant.

Josh Roots took a moment to introduce Jeremy Knobel, who will be serving as the House Manager for the Holiday Shows.

Chapter President Alan Wile provided updates on several current and former Harmonizers and spouses. He also noted the Sweet Adeline’s International convention was available for viewing via webcast (there is no charge, although viewers are asked to make a donation). Alan reminded everyone of the upcoming President’s Awards Banquet to be held on Jan 25th at Durant and asked everyone to get their RSVP to Steve Murane as soon as possible to ensure everyone has a seat!

Calvin Schnure reported that Harmonizer Chuck Hunter is settled and doing well in his new posting in Turkey.

Rich Hewitt introduced the evening’s lone guest – an applicant (aaaaaahhhh!!!), and mentioned that this is a great time of the year to invite others to rehearsals (hint, hint).

After a 15-minute break, Tony led an excellent craft session focused on a deeper understanding and application of the maxim, “Champions are made at the ends of phrases”. This doesn’t necessarily mean getting louder, it means the end of a phrase leads into the next phrase without “dead space”. Tony mentioned a few ways we can bring excitement to sustained notes – lifting the pitch, spin (increased air flow through a lifted soft palate), and by swelling and/or receding in volume – all of which require breath! He had the chorus work on using the breath in as a way of cutting the note off, which improves synchronization and prepares us for the next phrase. Great session!!

Tony then turned the chorus over to assistant director Mike Kelly, while he took candidates for the holiday show solos off for auditioning. Mike led the chorus through “Jingle Bells”, with the modified road map to allow for the added verse TBD will be singing. He also led us through “Feliz Navidad” and “Little Saint Nick”, reminding us to emphasize the “push” beats while giving the notes their full value. Terry Reynolds took over to direct “Ave Maria” and wrapped up the rehearsal by running through the three pieces the chorus will be performing at Oakton Elementary School on Nov 11th – “Stars and Stripes Forever”, “God Bless America” and “The Armed Forces Medley”.

With that, I end my two-week tenure as Assistant Scribe and return my pen and paper to Jack Pitzer!! - Dave



Looking Back on the October 29th Chapter Meeting (as reported by Assistant Scribe, Dave Branstetter)

The hall at Durant Center was buzzing with activity before the chapter meeting started. Ian Poulin was there for Harmonizers to pick up tickets they had ordered for the upcoming Holiday Dinner Theater. Eric Wallen was selling t-shirts in support of SAI quartet Shades of Jade and their trip to compete at International Competition in Hawaii. Dick Hall was at his normal post selling 50/50 tickets, and Sandy Stamps was there with her stash of White House Christmas Ornaments. Todd Rykstarsyk set up snacks and coffee in the break room, filling in admirably for Jack Pitzer who is in Kentucky for an FFA Convention.

Associate director Tony Colosimo conducted the warm up session. Director Joe Cerutti then reset the chorus in sections on the risers and spent several minutes reading selected comments from a very humorous facebook “discussion” on whether or not the chorus would be competing at Internationals in Las Vegas in 2014. After the laughter subsided, Joe went to work on some of the holiday music - “Little Saint Nick”, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time”, and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Assistant director Terry Reynolds announced that this was the last time we would be projecting the holiday music during rehearsal. He also mentioned that auditions for the solos in “Ave Maria” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” would be conducted during the rehearsals on November 5th and 12th (Terry had sent out an email to that effect on Oct 25th).

Joe then turned the chorus back over to Tony for an excellent craft session to close out the first half of the rehearsal. Using the first few lines of “O Holy Night” as a teaching example, he had the chorus focus on “keeping our breath connected”, because using our whole voice requires “great movement of air”.

Operations vp Bob Rhome started the business meeting with a quick report on attendance for the Holiday shows. According to Groupanizer, we expect to put over 90 Harmonizers on the risers for each of the three performances – it will be quite a treat for our guests!!

Chapter President Alan Wile took over and provided an update on several Harmonizers currently experiencing or recovering from various health issues. Keep them all in your thoughts. Alan also reminded the chorus of the upcoming President’s Awards Banquet (Jan 25, 2014) and asked for RSVPs to be sent to Steve Murane. He also asked for awards nominations, so that we have something to present at the banquet. Alan also referred the chorus to emails he had sent earlier in the day covering the House of Delegates report as well as donation opportunities for chorus members. He closed by sharing some kind words he’d received from one of last week’s guests, Tom Halley, lead of last year’s M-AD quartet champs, FRANK THE DOG. The Harmonizers clearly know how to do hospitality!!

Sandy Stamps made an announcement on behalf of Roger Day, seeking volunteers to assist in decorating the hall at First Baptist Church for our Holiday Show on the morning of Dec 6th.

Ben Roberts invited the chorus to West Potomac High School’s upcoming presentation of “Avenue Q”, an allegedly risqué bit of theater – with puppets!

Terry Reynolds returned and repeated his earlier announcement regarding auditions for the “Ave Maria” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” solos (Nov 5th and 12th during rehearsal). Terry also informed the chorus that he would be hosting an extra rehearsal on Nov 7th (likely at Durant, email to follow) focusing on the non-holiday portion of our repertoire. Great opportunity for newer members!

Bob Rhome returned to remind us that next week’s rehearsal (Nov 5th) will be conducted in the 3rd floor Music Suite at First Baptist Church on King Street, due to Durant being used as a polling center. And he reminded us that Ike Evans was available take our mug shots for the picture board display in the meeting hall.

Membership VP Mark Klostermeyer with help from Rich Hewitt welcomed guests for the evening; all three had been with us before – two of which have taken the step of becoming official applicants!! Rich was proudly wearing the t-shirt and medal he received for completing last weekend’s Marine Corps Marathon – way to go, Rich!! It should also be noted that one of the two applicants, Reed Livergood, successfully passed his audition after rehearsal – a welcome addition to the Harmonizers!!

After a 15-minute break, the chorus hit the risers again – this time in our “usual” formation – for work on “Fa-La-La”, including performing the choreography under the watchful eye of Carlos Barillo, and “Hallelujah Chorus”.

The rehearsal concluded with Terry Reynolds directing “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “God Bless America” in preparation for the Veteran’s Day Performance at Oakton Elementary School. Terry and Tony urged everyone, not just those participating in the performance, to take some time this week to refresh their memory on those numbers!

Afterglow at La Porta’s was as festive as ever, with a number of Harmonizers in attendance.

Til next week (after which Jack reclaims his rightful duties) - Dave