Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Harmonizer Year 2013 In Review

We began 2013 with our traditional Alexandria Inova Hospital Holiday Sing followed by the Heat Glow at Jack and Pat Pitzer’s home.  Then later in the month, we acknowledged the great work of our fellow Harmonizers at the annual Presidents’ Awards Banquet at Durant. Alan Wile was installed as president – his fourth year to serve – along with his officer team.

Another special January event was the dinner concert with reigning BHS quartet gold medalists RINGMASTERS from Sweden.  Ken Rub organized the grand evening at the Masonic Temple.

The wonderful all-day coaching session with Tony DeRosa in March was a lot of work to kick-off our contest package work but we laughed and laughed with Tony teasing Joe the whole time. The M-AD International prelims contest was on a snowy March weekend in Parsippany, NJ.  Our quartet DA CAPO, (Ryan Griffith, Tony Colosimo, Joe Sawyer, Wayne Adams), qualified to go to Toronto.

In April we hosted the Southern Division Convention in Reston. We had 10 quartets in the contest with Harmonizers in them. Chuck Harner was chairman for us. Our chorus did not compete as we were headed to the International contest in July.

We also had a fantastic coaching session with choreographer extraordinaire Cindy Hansen in April and then came the pre-competition retreat with our hero David Wright at the end of May at McDaniel College in MD. Chuck McKeever was retreat chair again. After working all day Saturday, we had the joy of David giving us a mini-version of his popular Barbershop History class. The 27 members of the Class of 2013 did a great Jeopardy skit led by their president Rich Hewitt.

We held our International Convention Send-Off Performance in June at Bishop Ireton High School.  We are proud of our hard-earned third-place bronze medal at the BHS 75th International Convention. (Our chorus photo forming a 75 on the steps of the hotel made the cover of the Society’s magazine.) The 110-man chorus earned 91.7% singing the ballad “All the Things You Are” arranged by Steve Delehanty, and singing the uptune “Anything Goes” arranged by Kevin Keller. We were pleased to use choreography from our own Carlos Barillo.  Master director Joe Cerutti with his team of associate director Tony Colosimo, and assistant directors Terry Reynolds, Mike Kelly and Will Cox helped us succeed.  Tony’s weekly barbershop craft maxims made us self accountable. We had a killer front row too with great props designed by TJ Donahue.

Our chapter leaders made the Toronto trip a success too: Carl Kauffman with major help from Bob Rhome (who also makes all meeting and space reservations for the chapter) and Craig Kujawa.  Rick and Peggy Wagner hosted a GREAT Harmo hide-away.  We had seven Special Forces (guys who live far away and made special arrangements to sing with us) on the risers. And Ian Poulin sold us scrip to use in paying our hotel bills, which netted the chapter a handsome fee for our coffers.

In the summer prior to Toronto, we sang again for the Jefferson Awards ceremony in DC - this year at Arena Stage – Chris Wallace was emcee. Other performances included singing at John Carlyle Park in Alexandria; at the Alexandria Hospital in July; outdoors at Alexandria's historical Market Square; and a performance with MAYHEM at the wedding of our Master Director Joe and Bridgette Winter.  A huge number of us were on hand to sing for and with 5 other chapters performing at the "Dog Days of August" event hosted by the Prince William Chapter in Manassas.  Frequently, our a cappella ensemble called TBD sang with us on shows. Greg Tepe is our resident show producer for such events like the DC show for the Odd Fellows. In September we initiated “Let Us Entertain You – a Harmonizer Musical Outreach to Senior Living Neighborhoods.”

In October we hosted the M-AD Contest & Convention in Ocean City, MD. Chuck Harner served again as our chair with many helpers from the chapter, their families and our auxiliary FRIEND IN HARMONY.  We also sang in order to qualify for the district contest in 2014 since we could not be at the division contest in ’14 due to our trip to Normandy France. We sang Friday night after the quartet contest. Many members made the trip up after work from the DC area. We sang the same package as Toronto and did qualify. 

Besides the chorus, we were thrilled to have the district quartet champ from our chapter – MAYHEM (Matt Fellows, Pookie Dingle, Mike Pinto, Ken White). ACME CHORD COMPANY (Dan O’Brien, Chris Susalka, Paul Grimes, Eric Wallen) was fifth. New kids in the contest, THE MONORAIL FOUR (Kellen Hertz, Phil Ferguson, Bobby Seay, Andrew Havens) were 9th – they met while singing in our youth chorus, CAPITAL FORCE.

Several Harmonizers are board member leaders of the district, including president Bill Colosimo, secretary Keith Jones, treasurer Bob Eckman, at large member Dennis Ritchey. Other members serve on the M-AD Operations Team.  Joe Cerutti and Gary Plaag are members of the BHS board (until Joe accepted a BHS staff position) and Chris Buechler is parliamentarian. Several members of the chapter are certified judges in the BHS too – Cerutti, T. Colosimo, O’Brien, Buechler, Plaag, Devine, Harner, Santora.

In November we sang a Veteran’s Day show for 850 kids at Oakton Elementary; and we launched a full holiday 'push' in early December by singing at the City of Alexandria Christmas Tree Lighting with Mayor Bill Euille,  then performing at three of our own dinner holiday shows December 6 & 7 at First Baptist. The show was “sold-out” in about September thanks to work by the members with leadership from Josh Roots, Scipio Garling and Ian Poulin.

A special surprise was the appearance with us on the Friday night show of The American Boychoir from Princeton, NJ.  One of their staffers, Myles Glancey (and a former Harmonizer), called about their singing with us since their concert that night in DC had been canceled. About 20 boys from 4th to 8th grades making great music, and they loved seeing the men singers having fun too.

Brad Jones launched an online auction with co-chair Randall Eliason.  That auction then became a silent auction at the show.  We netted handsomely from that.  AND we sold tickets for next year’s show and have a good percentage already sold! Some traditions continued – Roger Day and crew making the place look like Santa’s workshop, all the holiday goodies brought in by members, work and support of the FRIENDS group (Sandy Stamps, president), and traditional show characters like Santa Claus (Bruce Minnick), Jack In The Box (Terry Reynolds), Will Cox reciting “Twas  the Night Before Christmas” and the “monks” using cue cards for the words for “Hallelujah Chorus. ” But also ask us about the dancing reindeer and the ice skater!

We closed out a very busy and productive year performing for an audience of children at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial on December 17; then 29 Harmonizers entertained Sunday evening Dec 22nd at the White House during the holiday public tour and finally, several chapter members sang in or helped staff the 3rd annual “No Borders Youth Chorus” concert held at Carnegie Hall.

In September the chapter membership climbed to 238. We held open auditions to bring in new members this year. Besides shows, we raised money for the chapter with our sales of White House Ornaments (Sandy Stamps), Entertainment Books (Chuck Harner) and scrip (Ian Poulin). During the year there were recording sessions (using First Baptist choir room) toward another album.  A number of guys enjoy the afterglow on Tuesday nights at LaPortas on King Street.   And quartet promo guy, Calvin Schnure, organized our annual chapter Put Together Quartet contests that are really fun.

Two members of the Harmonizer family died this year – Dick Weick and Jon Abel.