Saturday, May 24, 2014

Looking Back on the May 20th Chapter Meeting

Well this week, the air conditioning was working great!! And the guys drank every drop of coffee this time since it was cool in the hall.  We needed that AC tho with all the crowds on the stage for visual review with Chuck McKeever; the front row in the lobby jumpin and dancing with choreographer Carlos Barillo; hard working set up crew including unloading the Harmo truck back into Durant; and all kinds of sales activities such as 50/50 with Dick and Carolyn Hall, scrip cards with the FRIENDS IN HARMONY, shiny shoe sales with Frank Fedarko, Crescendo ticket sales with Steve Murane and Robyn McQueen, Normandy shirt payments with Peter Hubbard and box lunch payments with Ken Fess and Mick Stamps.

Associate director Tony Colosimo did the warm ups for the chorus. 

During the nite, the Normandy team present PowerPoint messages setting the mood for the trip including one about the music of that era.  Before we got into singing, tho, Chris Huber called Peggy Harris, widow of Billie D. Harris, in France and we sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to her via phone.  We will see here during our trip.

Director Joe Cerutti congratulated some of our members for their recent nominations for CAPPIES (like the Tonys but for hi school musicals).  Peelee Clark and his students received a record nomination of 19 for their recent production of Spamalot at West Potomac High School in Alexandria. David Jarzen was one of them for “comic actor in a musical.”  Ben Roberts was another for his work on marketing and PR for the show.  Congrats to all.

Joe had us sing some-or-all of the many songs we have learned.  He held up the sheet music and invited a guy on the risers to pick one as it were a magic trick – and that is the one we sang.  It was fun.

The Normandy team also held a major briefing about the trip to France and Germany and it went out via email to all members.  One major point they stressed is that this trip is one for performances, not a social tour – this includes those going who are not singing.  Being on time is must.  The Normandy area will be jam packed so we might face some changes in schedule at any moment.

Operations vp Bob Blair conducted the chapter meeting.

First up for announcements was Calvin Schnure inviting those guys who like to sing tags to meet him in the lobby.  Bob Wachter was the guest tag teacher.

Shows vp Nick Leiserson reminded everyone singing in the Crescendo show June 21st that they need to get uniform parts from Tom Kern sooner than later.  And for sure before going to Normandy!!  We are wearing the Toronto outfit (that is the red and gray tie and pocket stuffer) and the tuxedo outfits.

President Terry Reynolds received a check from Tom Kraus for monies earned by our a cappella group, TBD, recently.  And Terry read a warm note from Shirley Bolstad thanking us for the great WWII tribute on Saturday. Her note included a very generous donation in honor of her husband Bruce.

Finally Terry called Steve White and Randall Eliason up front for all to recognize and cheer in thanks for those two guys’ dedication to making the WWII Tribute happen and for making sure it was a success.  Our thanks to them both.   No wonder It Is Great To Be A Harmonizer!

Secretary Chris Buechler presented a 30-year pin to our finance committee chairman, Al Herman, a 3-year renewal card to John Oswald Greene, and a 50-year renewal card and lapel pin to Terry Jordan.

Rich Hewitt welcomed and introduced this week’s guests.

For break, we had the good fortune to have some cookies left over from the Saturday event, so we ate well along with drank a lot of coffee!  More cookies still for the next couple weeks. Thanks to all who brought them Saturday – they are being put to a good use.

After break, we worked more on songs for France and for the Crescendo show.

At the end of the evening we listened again to the new ballad for next fall’s contest – “Someone Like You” arranged especially for us by Steve Tramack.  It is from Jekyll and Hyde.

In other news, Burt Stueve had arterial bypass earlier this week. Our thoughts are with him.

Also during the busy retreat weekend, Chris Buechler sang with the Cathedral Choral Society at the National Cathedral on Sunday.

Correcting or adding to the Looking Back report about the WWII Tribute – Jim McConnell was also singing the first time on a show with us. A current member, Paul Greiner, was one of the WWII Vets we sang to along with Kurt Latzko, brother of former member Walter Latzko. YeEd didn’t give Rick Wagner full credit – he sang the whole show standing without his crutches!!!

Finally, as busy as we are this summer as a chapter, there is always more opportunity for our members.  One example is Harmony College East – a weekend of training, singing, eating, meeting other guys from our district, working with great coaches and teachers from around the nation, and enjoying show performances. It is June 12-15 in Salisbury, MD. See Alan Wile for more details about signing up!!  Or see Steve White right away about the Harmonizers offer of $100 scholarships through our Jack Shields Memorial Fund to help subsidize the weekend for our younger members.


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


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Looking Back on the May 17th Retreat and WWII Tribute

What an important day in the history of the Alexandria chapter of the BHS!  We worked all day and evening, at First Baptist Church on King Street in Alexandria, on our music and performance package for the trip to Normandy, France and the 70th anniversary of the DDay Landing.  In the afternoon, we offered tribute in song and story to a large group of WWII Veterans and many fellow citizens there to help us honor them.

We began early with a rehearsal retreat coordinated by Chuck McKeever with lots of leadership by the music and performance vp Steve White, director Joe Cerutti, choreographer Carlos Barillo, president Terry Reynolds, and associate director Tony Colosimo.

Chuck treated us to OJ and fresh donuts to go with the coffee at 8:30 or so.  He also loaded in a huge supply of bottled water for the singers.

Tony started the day at 9am with warm ups and turned things over to Joe to get right to work at singing.

Joe welcomed Special Forces guys who are singing with us in France and were with us for the weekend – Fr. Joe Witmer from Ohio, Jay Butterfield from Lancaster, PA; John Santora from Bel Air, MD; Don Johnson from Alexandria, and Alan Lamson and Jim Kew from Manchester, CT. Assistant director Will Cox did the warm ups for the evening show.

Of course there were many announcements during the day; there was a good break for some more donuts; and then a lunch break and time to change into our black suits with new red/white/blue tie for the afternoon WWII Tribute show.

During the warm up for the show we learned that this was the first performance with the Harmonizers for Peelee Clark, John Santora, Alan Lamson, Jim McConnell and Jim Kew.

The hall at First Baptist, where we always have the holiday dinner show, was set in concert style with over 250 seats facing the stage.  The risers, set with “flat” sections in the center, stretched across the front of the stage – both to accommodate more audience seats and the large number of chorus singers.

For historical purposes, here is the thank you note WWII Tribute chairman, Randall Eliason, sent to the chapter. (His leadership and attention to detail and skill to involve other members made the tribute a huge success.)  It records the many, many tasks needed to pull off such an important event in the history of the Alexandria Harmonizers.  Many folks are already talking about something like this being an annual event

Note From Randall: What a fantastic experience yesterday performing in our veterans tribute show! It was a great success, an emotional and moving experience for both us and our guests. I was proud to be a part of it with all of you.


I have many people to thank. I'm sure I will forget someone - if so, please forgive me (my brain is still a little fried) and know how much I appreciated everyone's help:


Steve White - who first came up with the concept of this show as a way to kick off our Normandy tour, asked me to produce it, and supported me throughout. Putting this show together was simply an execution of Steve's vision. Oh - and he also arranged for the printing of the programs (designed by Noah), which looked great!


Sandy Stamps and the other members of FRIENDS IN HARMONY - including Debbie Corder, Kathie Kauffmann, Sandi Ulibarri, Carol Dangel, Janet Cerutti, Catherine Colosimo, Ninamarie Maragiolglio, Lydia Golden, Peggy Wagner, Gail Felker, Robyn McQueen, Ellen Dellert, Judy Huber, Mary Blair, Christina Ammerman and Ina Berkey -- who helped out in various ways. They not only decorated the hall, arranged and maintained the cookie plates, staffed the various tables at the show, and carried out countless other tasks -- they also paid for most of the decorations out of the FIH budget. The success of the show owes a great deal to their support.


Noah Van Gilder - for his PR work and for designing a flyer and a show program that were powerful and professional -- even though it kept him up until 2:00 am!


Chris Huber - also in the PR department, who worked tirelessly (and successfully!) to get us some coverage by the local TV stations.


Greg Tepe - for being house manager, manning the follow spot, and for all of his sage advice on how to produce a show.


Nick Leiserson - for serving as our dignitary "handler," helping manage the house, and for his similarly sage advice on producing a show.


Rich Hewitt - who spent most of his waking hours in the past week scouring the Internet for pictures and creating the beautiful and moving PowerPoint slide shows, which were a huge hit with the audience.


Shawn Tallant - who brought us the US Navy Sea Cadets Corps (who were terrific!), promoted the show through the American Legion and VFW, helped out with getting our guests of honor seated, and just generally was one of the show's biggest boosters.


Clyde Crusenberry - another big promoter of the show, who reached out to multiple retirement and veterans homes.


Dixie Kennett - for her skilled and professional job (as usual!) handling the lighting.


Joe Cerutti Sr. and Janet Cerutti - Janet for running the sound board and providing our pre- and post-show music; Joe for helping her out, for single-handedly arranging for about 6 of our WWII veterans to be at the show, and for helping with the seating of our guests of honor.


Doug White and Todd Ryktarsyk - for setting up and helping to run the sound the day of the show, and Mike Kelly for helping them figure out beforehand what would be required.


Jack Pitzer and his team of Kevin Kaiser, Alan Lamson and Jim Kew - for coordinating the coffee, lemonade, and other refreshments.


Ross Felker - for a beautiful and moving rendition of Taps (and that uniform looked pretty sharp, too).


Bob Blair - for managing the loading, unloading, and driving of the truck, all the other logistical support, and for outreach to the VFW.


Bob Rhome - for additional logistical support and for all the help coordinating with the church.


John Pence - for running the video camera (supplied by Chuck McKeever) and for

preparing song boards that were visible from the balcony!


Bill Colosimo - who, as emcee, was the consummate professional, and who took time away from a Division contest obligation, got up at 0-dark-30, and drove to DC so he could be with us.


Ken Fess - for providing me with tons of information and photos about Normandy and D-day, and for overall moral support.


Martin Banks - for setting up and maintaining the cool Harmonizer history board.


Ike Evans - for putting me in touch with the WWII re-enactors and for lots of other work behind the scenes to support the show.


Tom and Ina Berkey for lending us pictures for decorations.


The Friday Afternoon Set-up Crew - Jack Pitzer, Mick Stamps, Alan Lamson, Dick Newton, Bob Blair, Bob Rhome, Rich Hewitt, Austin Cotton, Clyde Crusenberry, Chuck McKeever, Martin Banks, Dean Rust, Dixie Kennett, Sandy Stamps, and Debbie Corder (I'm sure I missed someone here . . . )


and of course, Joe and Terry for their leadership and constant support.


Thanks, too, to everyone who promoted the show on Facebook, through e-mail, posted a flyer, or invited a vet.


This experience definitely gave me a new appreciation for just how many people it takes, pitching in and pulling together, to make something like this happen. Thanks again to all.


It's great to be a Harmonizer - on to Normandy!




The songs for the Tribute were emotional and brought the audience to their feet several times.  Tony and Ken White sang solos on the show.  Emcees for chorus songs during show were Gary Fuller, Don Dillingham and Elliott Roseman. Rick Wagner performed the show standing without crutches too!

The chapter was honored to have Congressman Jim Moran, Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille, and Lt. Gen. John B. Sylvester, US Army (Ret.) to bring remarks.  Each of them thanked the chapter for their efforts in honoring the heroes from our community. Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Coates, US Navy Chaplain, delivered an invocation.

Two of the WWII Veterans were of special interest to the chapter – current member Paul Greiner was in the front row; and Kurt Latzko, brother of deceased member Walter Latzko, was present for the event too.

The audience included many family members and friends of the older WWII Veterans and it was a joy to see the young Cadets helping and saluting and being sharp. YeEd noticed many former singers in the audience too including Bob Hoffman, John Hohl, Bede Bender, Ross Johnson; as well as family members of the chorus.

After the tribute, we took time for dinner on our own and changed back into comfortable gear.  We assembled back on the risers about 6:30pm.  Joe worked on touch ups for some of the songs we had sung and talked about other songs.  We are also working on music for the huge show on June 21st with our friends the Ambassadors of Harmony and their gold medal quartets. AND we will be starting soon on a new ballad for the contest this fall plus our American Icon Show in 2015.

The day ended with everyone chipping in to repack and reload the Harmo truck.  It was a long day but a proud one for all of us.

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.)


Monday, May 19, 2014

Looking Back on the May 13th Chapter Meeting

First off there was a lot of detail presented about this coming weekend’s retreat and show. We have the church from 8am to 10pm. Coffee, tea, OJ, and doughnuts will be available prior to 9am. To be clear, the retreat is from 9am – 9pm with the Veterans Tribute Show embedded in the middle. If you are planning to perform on the Crescendo Show on June 21 but are not going to Europe, the retreat is an ideal opportunity for you to work on the music and choreography. There will be 4 rehearsal large segments; 2 in the morning and 2 in the evening.

Retreat master Chuck McKeever will also have waters for us for the day.

As Randall Elliason said last night, bring two dozen cookies and get them to Jack Pitzer on Saturday; and if you are performing on the Tribute Show and don’t live close to the church, please plan to bring your uniform. We have rooms set aside for you to change. We will break for lunch about 12:30 and reconvene at 2 to dress (no makeup) and then great our guests and dignitaries for the 3pm show. There may be news media, so be cool. Again, the show is both a tribute to all veterans and their families, but particularly the 26 WWII veterans we know will be our honored guests. It is also a send-off for our D-Day Celebration trip to Normandy. Please encourage your friends, families, and veterans to attend.

Note to those who ride Metro – plan ahead and get a ride since the church is too far from a station.

This week’s meeting required a lot of set up to check out all the sound equipment for the show, plus there were more risers and some were reversed so the risers were nearly in a straight line. Thanks to Bob Blair for making those changes.  And thanks to Todd Ryktarsyk and others who helped set them up in Durant.

The AC was off!!! So the whole nite was quite a test in dedication to the singers, front row dancers, and guys who did set up.  Basically, no one drank any of the coffee at break.

Assistant director Will Cox did the vocal warm up exercises. Ken Fess with the AV team presented more WWII history.

Then director Joe Cerutti took us right into many of the songs for France and Germany.  Before break we did the last session of Make Me Better.

HANDSOME REWARD quartet with Dave Bonnell, Mike Edison, Vince Lynch, Michael Gilmore sang for us this week as they will be competing this weekend in the combined Atlantic/Western Division contests in Harrisburg.


Turns out seven of our guys are competing with their quartets in one of the M-AD four division contests this spring.  At the Southern Division in Roanoke June 30-31: YOUTH RECLAMATION PROJECT with Mike Wallen, Roger Tarpey, Hardman Jones, Vic Owen Jr.;

THE MONORAIL FOUR with Kellen Hertz, Phil Ferguson, Bobby Seay VI, Andrew Havens; and FORCAST with Mike Fitch, Ian Galvin, Travis Murray, Dan Cook. At the Northern Division in Scranton, the mic testers will be LAST MEN STANDING  with  TJ Bartringer, Drew Feyer, Ed Bell III, Mike Kelly.


Operations vp Bob Blair conducted the weekly chapter meeting and found a familiar face to wear the Ooops I Forgot My Name Badge – Bob Wachter!


President Terry Reynolds reminded everyone to get their new tie from Tom Kern.  And Terry suggested that having 100 guys on the risers in the sweltering heat is another reason why It Is Great To Be A Harmonizer!


Reed Livergood announced again his need for 5 volunteers to host the three guest quartets coming to be on the Crecendo show.  This is a great way for new members to learn more about the BHS and to meet some great singers. We will want to make them welcome to the DC area and to our show and to the Harmonizer family.


Robyn McQueen was selling Crescendo tickets this week.


Chapter secretary Chris Buechler presented a Harmo name badge to new member Kenne Toula. Chris presented membership renewal cards to Kellen Hertz for 6 years; Noah Van Gilder for 7 years; Steve Murane for 12 years; Chris Buechler for 29 years; Rick Wagner for 33 years; Austin Cotton for 39 years; Alan Kousen for 47 years and Dick Hall for 50 years.  The chorus rose to applaud Dick’s milestone!


Membership vp Jeremy Richardson invited everyone to the afterglow for more fellowship – each week at Laporta's, 1600 Duke Street.  He invited all of our guests and applicants up front and Rich Hewitt made the introductions.


After break, some tag singing and attempts by all to cool off outside, it was back to work on the risers on our music.  Joe continually encouraged us to perform, as he felt the rehearsals are over.


To wrap up the evening, president Terry introduced the chapter to work by the current board to look outside the mold or outside our chapter on ways to grow, increase income, and expand our performance efforts in the area. No definite plans have been launched, but the board wanted us all to know what is going on.

The music leadership team has encouraged any singers who are not going to France but might want to sing in the June 21st show with the Ambassadors of Harmony to give it a try.  To help you prepare, every song on the Crescendo Show will be rehearsed this coming Saturday, May 17 during the Normandy Retreat and Veterans Tribute Show (9am – 9pm) at the First Baptist Church in Alexandria. All Crescendo Show performers are welcome to participate in the Retreat whether you are going to Europe or not. Beyond that, there are just 3 Tuesday rehearsals … May 20, May 27, and June 17 (note: there will not be rehearsals on June 3 and June 10 while we are in Europe).

As a teaser, this coming Saturday during the Retreat we will introduce the new ballad to be performed as part of our package at the 2014 M-AD fall contest.



In other news, our member Sean Devine and a member of the Harmony Foundation staff residing near Hershey, PA, has submitted his resignation.  He plans to remain in PA and work in the executive training and development field.  He was on the Foundation staff since 2008.


Sad news on Facebook this week that DA CAPO will scratch and not sing at the International in Vegas.  Best wishes to bass Wayne Adams in combating throat issues.


Congrats to Ellen Dellert, treasurer of FRIENDS IN HARMONY, who earned a certificate in Human Resources  from Marymount University very recently.


Have you heard about Harmony College EAST and Youth Harmony Camp at Salisbury University ( in Salisbury, Maryland on June 12-15? This is an amazing experience with over 500 barbershoppers and youth singers from across the Mid-Atlantic region and it’s just a beautiful 2.5 hour drive to the Eastern Shore. Maybe you have already signed up. Either way, consider this: the Harmonizers are offering $100 scholarships through our Jack Shields Memorial Fund to help subsidize your weekend. This fund is earmarked for our younger members. Please speak with Steve White immediately if you are interested.


Rick Wagner was at the meeting again and getting around with his crutches. TJ Jones was back too.

To wrap up the nite, lots of equipment needed to be loaded onto the Harmo truck for the weekend.

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