Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Looking Back on Our Crescendo Show with the Ambassadors June 21

Most Harmonizers and their family and fans just can’t think up enough complimentary adjectives to describe the experience we had this past weekend. Sharing the stage with the 140 Ambassadors of Harmony from St. Charles, MO, on June 21st at the George Mason Center for the Arts was AWESOME.

The show was an outgrowth of chats between some of our leaders and their leaders a few years ago, and it finally happened.  Their chorus and family and friends started arriving on Thursday so they could tour Washington and see the wonderful sites in the Nation’s Capital. Some of them were hosted in Harmonizers’ homes.  Others stayed at a hotel in Fairfax, not far from the show venue.

Some private tours on Thursday included Mt. Vernon for the afternoon and then dinner in DC with several Harmonizers; an afternoon at Annapolis and the Bay area; tours at Arlington Cemetery; and such.

Friday their whole contingent took a bus tour of DC with a stop for lunch at the Reagan Bldg, and a tour of the Capitol.  They had worked with MO Senator Claire McCaskill. Later Friday evening, the two choruses and their families assembled on the east side of the Washington Monument for a briefing before strolling over to the World War II Memorial for a Flash Mob event there. 

It was our first effort to organize the 240 singers and worked pretty well.  Both choruses had leaders involved in calling the shots and taking leadership.  We provided some guys to lead the way. 

There was media at the Memorial which caught the attention of our guys and word is there was some good coverage on YouTube of the “mob” scene.  YeEd suspects we will learn more as pictures and coverage is consolidated by our marketing team.

After the WWII Memorial, a large contingent of both chapters gathered at Penn Social at the corner of 8th and E St. for an “afterglow” event.  It was so fun to see our new young members singing tags with barbershop icons – no one took time to tell them that the lead they were singing with has a gold medal. Barbershopping at its best!

Saturday was a full day for all of us. Both choruses had a call about noon and came via bus and car carrying uniforms and gear for the show. The Harmonizers were impressed with the Ambassadors’ rolling uniform racks (that also hold shoes) that came off their truck into the venue.  Each of their singers gets his uniform bag off the alphabetically organized racks before the show and is responsible to replace them there.

We had a variety of stage times to do sound checks and entrance and exit drills.  Before we had a join rehearsal for the two songs we did together (“Music of the Night” directed by their director Jonny Moroni and “Stars and Stripes Forever” directed by our Joe Cerutti), we had time to work with their musical assistant director Jonny. The three quartets on the show also had stage time including VOCAL SPECTRUM (BHS champs in 2006), CROSSROADS (BHS champs 2009) and our own DA CAPO (BHS top ten in 2013) – with Jim Henry filling in for Wayne Adams who is on vocal rest currently.

Rehearsals and stage times went well, so we got a chance to sing a song for each other before dinner. How cool that was – to stand right up on stage in front of them to get the full impact of their sound and energy! Their president Mike Rubin came to our first warm up and presented a AoH CD for each of us.  Our president Terry presented each of them with a Harmo lapel pin.

Dinner was in a box for their guys.  Howard Nestlerode collected for our guys who wanted one too, tho some of our guys brought their own chow.  Thanks to Dean Rust, we had bottled waters for both choruses for the day as well as some good snacks to chow down. We all appreciated his hard work to make this happen.

Soon it was time to start dressing and getting ready. We had had warm ups with assistant director Will Cox during the day.  Before the show we learned that this was the last show with Will as assistant director.  He and his wife Anna Ruth have moved to their new home in Montross VA.  He expects to be with us some but not as assistant director.  More on that as the details unfold.

YeEd happens to know that this was the last performance for a while for Jim Kew, who has been coming down from Manchester CT over the last year with Alan Lamson to sing with us in France, and Jim decided he knew this show music, so why miss this chance to do one more great show.  It has been really fun having Jim and Alan sing with us!!

We also learned that Len Dornberger is taking himself off the risers as of this show.  Here is his very warm note to all of us: You may have heard my story of how I was in Reston for a week-long seminar and came to my first Harmonizers meeting/rehearsal. It took about 20 minutes for me to get hooked and begin thinking how great it would be to be on the international stage "just one time" with this chorus. So I made a "one year" commitment to make the trek from Dover, DE every Tuesday. Well, that was in May 2000, just 14 years and 12 international stages ago. What a tremendous ride it has been for me! We will see Len and Marie soon on a Tuesday nite.


Before we went onto the stage, we learned that there were two guys singing in their very first performance with the Harmonizers: Chris Odell, Aaron Simoneau and David Jarzen.  Welcome aboard men.

When the show started the audience was wild – over 1050 seats sold – all screaming and cheering and offering Standing Ovations over and over for both choruses and all the quartets.  Emcee was chapter member Rick Taylor, who himself, keep the audience laughing and excited about their chance to witness a really great BHS show.

After the show in the lobby, it was great to see all the chapter members, both current and former, like Dan and Erin Cook from Richmond, Larry and Cathy Silva, and Jim Mathias who now sings with the Ambassadors; all the M-AD folks who came out, like the guys who drove down from Voices of Gotham in NYC,  the non-Harmonizers in MAYHEM, and Steve Delehanty, arranger of “Jersey Boys” sitting in the center of the third row; the many Harmo family members we had gotten to know during our trip to France like John Ondish; and community leaders like Paul Dolinsky with the George Washington Masonic Memorial, who came back stage to greet us.

It didn’t take much encouragement for our guys to jump into action to help pull off an impromptu afterglow Saturday nite.  The hotel where their chorus was staying had a great open lobby and they invited us all to come over, and bring whatever we could to share.  It was a ball – tag singing everywhere again, and jokes and stories and plenty of chances to make new barbershop friends. Nobody went hungry nor thirsty!

For us, this was another Breathless Moment weekend, and a chance to see how another chorus and chapter functions, a chance to hear some fantastic singing and experience some pretty fantastic singing of our own!  Our singers and leaders stepped up to the plate and raised the bar!!!

Also our leaders got a chance to rub shoulders with their counterpart on the AoH team. Great learning and sharing took place all weekend. The really nice printed show program listed this team of Alexandria folks to thank, tho Nick Leiserson, producer, and Noah Van Gilder, marketing, carried huge parts of the load leading up to the weekend, in addition to the music team. Greg Tepe was stage manager, Reed Livergood coordinated hosting AoH, Mike Kelly did sound.  Dixie Kennett did lighting. Bob Blair was transportation with our Harmo truck. Maggie Eckman was house manager. Mark Klostermeyer was chorus manager.

Our music team should take a bow too tho: vp Steve White; assistant directors Will Cox, Terry Reynolds, Mike Kelly; choreographer Carlos Barillo; associate director Tony Colosimo; and director Joe Cerutti. Thanks to the men also who did solos and song introductions for the show.

Other thank you notes not listed go to Shawn Tallant, Scipio Garling, Sandy Stamps, Ross and Susan Johnson, Chuck McKeever, John Pence, Lesley Irminger, the Center for the Arts staff and crew, and our own FRIENDS IN HARMONY auxiliary.

For the record, the Harmonizers sang two sets on the show: first set was “I’m the Music Man,” “Something About a Soldier,” “Deep River,” “Bring Him Home,” and “Glenn Miller Medley.” Second set was “Jersey Boys Medley,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and “Anything Goes.”

One of the AoH numbers was “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” It featured famed  barbershopper and trumpeter who recorded “Barbershop in Brass,” Roger Blackburn, doing a trumpet solo with their chorus.

Our event team leaders suggest a huge thanks goes to Ambassadors Bill McLaurine, Dave Schuler, Matt Hamilton and Todd Johnson for their tireless efforts coordinating a show from 800 miles away!

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 during the 66th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd.)

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