Thursday, June 26, 2014

Looking Back on the  June 24th Chapter Meeting

First off – some additional info for the Crescendo show report: that show was also the first show for Aaron Simoneau.  Jim Mathias, a former Harmonizer, was singing with the Ambassadors. And Steve Delehanty, the arranger for “Jersey Boys” was in the center seat of the third row!


There was a wave of excitement in the hall when the start button went down for this week’s rehearsal and meeting.  Everyone was sharing stories about the show weekend.


To get us in the mood and up on the risers, the AV team played our new contest ballad – “Someone Like You” arranged by Steve Tramack.  Associate director Tony Colosimo did the warm ups.


When director Joe Cerutti came forward to start the music work session, he made general comments about the show weekend.  And he invited any member to offer stories and share reactions. We also included comments for the Normandy trip too, since we had not had time to do that since we got home.  Joe’s comment about the trip was great – “It was the worst trip I ever took and it was the most awesome trip I ever took.”   It described the challenges of travel in contrast to the wonderful musical and performance experiences. There were many fun stories about both of these milestone Harmonizer events.


Then to work.  Joe reminded us that this is the launch of things for 2015 when we will work toward another chorus contest appearance at the International in Pittsburgh.  Also we have the Harmony on the Harbor show this fall after several summer outdoor concerts in Alexandria.


Here are some details about the Harmonizer summer schedule:


July 1st -- we won't meet at Durant but those in town will sing at Inova Alexandria Hospital on Seminary Rd. BTW it is not walkable from a Metro, so plan ahead for a ride. We meet in the hospital lobby at 7 pm. Wear some kinda Harmo logo shirt.  Park in the free lot, as we can’t get reimbursed for being in the pay lot. We sing a few songs around the hospital - come for the fun of it, even if you are still working on some songs. Note that many guys will still be in Vegas for the 2014 International convention, cheering for Harmo quartets and watching this year's hot chorus contest. (YeEd has been hearing about several guys hosting barbershop friends over to watch the convention via the Web.)


July 17th -- we sing at John Carlyle Square Park by the Patent Office (actually walkable from the King St. Metro). Show is outside at 7:30, chorus call is at 6:30. Greg Tepe, the show producer,  will be sending out details, uniform plan and the song list. This park is at 300 John Carlyle St., Alex.


August 15th -- we do another outdoor gig. Both are our way to show support for the City of Alex and thank them for their support of our chapter including providing a meeting place. We also expect to attract other singers, so bring prospective guests. This one is at Market Square in Old Town on King St. by the Fountain. Show is also at 7:30 and call is 6:30. Watch for details from Greg. There is parking underneath the fountain and usually when you arrive you can bring your parking receipt for validation and thus free. Also there is a free shuttle that runs from King St. Metro to Market Sq -- check out its schedule and times.


Also many folks plan ahead and go out for some chow or drinks afterward with others from the chorus. Usually not an official afterglow - but who knows.


Both shows usually allow for times for guys to get off risers for songs they don't know. Bring family and friends to both -- bring folding chairs.


While you are marking your calendar, an important event and gig is the annual Dog Days of Summer show we sing on in Manassas with all the other chapters in Northern Virginia. It will be Tues Aug 26th, from 7-10, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church hall, 12975 Purcell Rd., Manassas 20112, Plan a carpool. Family and friends are welcome. We sing last, so you can make it after work, even if you can’t get there by 7. . We get great support from our fellow barbershop singers each year. It is a fun nite. There are snacks and cold drinks too. Again watch for details as to songs and uniform.


Finally, the Fall District Contest -- Oct 24-25, 2014. In Wildwood NJ. Definitely start making plans to go to this one and help us earn the right to go on to the International contest in Pittsburgh July 2015.


Contest is at Wildwood Convention Center. The weekend includes a quartet contest with the preliminary round starting at 6 pm on Fri, Oct. 24th! So take off work for part or all of Friday. The chorus contest starts at 9 am on Sat Oct. 25th for your friends to go see and stuff, while we dress and prepare. Depends on the pre-contest draw for order of appearance, but assume you will need to be in Wildwood very early that morning. If we succeed in our goal, we will also need to stay that nite and sing on the jamboree. Sooo -- plan to stay over nite.


Saturday nite after dinner, the finals round of the quartet contest starts at 7pm followed by the Jamboree.


Start asking around about who is going and where they are staying. The district website has housing info - we are on our own for it. So get a group or car pool and plan ahead. Go to for details.


This Tuesday we spent the whole evening on the new ballad which has been well received and guys have been working on it at home.  We listened to it once with it on the screen in front of us (although most guys had a copy in hand with a pencil to make notes). Then we sang it before going to sectionals to work on the song. After that, we sang it with interpretation plans from Joe.


Before our mid-point, we said farewell to Len Dornberger and sang “A Place on the Risers for You” as is our tradition.  Bill Sowers, who we don’t get to see too often, came to pay tribute to Len who sang with him in the Dover, DE, Diamond Statesmen before being a Harmonizer along with Bob Eckman.


Operations vp Bob Blair conducted the chapter meeting. Chris Buechler showed an attaché case with the Harmo logo, and your name if you wish, that the chapter is taking orders for.  See Howard Nestlerode.  Good way to bring your music and name badge every week!


Quartet promotion chairman Calvin Schnure and treasurer Dave Welter presented support checks and best wishes to the quartets that will be in the contest next week in Vegas with at least one Harmonizer in the quartet: MAYHEM (Pookie Dingle, Mike Pinto, Ken White), LAST MEN STANDING (Mike Kelly), and THROWBACK (Sean Devine).  Unfortunately DA CAPO and BSQ have withdrawn from the contest, even tho they had qualified.


Dixie Kennett has prepared a handbook of useful info regarding the Vegas convention.  It is on our Groupanizer page in the documents section. Thanks Dixie.


President Terry Reynolds announced that the chapter received a donation from the Mt. Vernon Health Center following their attending our WWII Tribute show.


He also alerted us that starting July 1st, our chapter meetings will start at 6:30 pm and end at 9:15pm. This is brought on by cutbacks in city budgets for staffing.  Stay tuned.  Parking challenges are also pretty tough with construction on the school and Durant building.  Be prepared.


Ken Fess then spoke about the Normandy Trip and recapped the event.  He started giving back many lost items to the guys.  Then he expressed appreciation to the many people it took to make the trip a success – including the huge help and contributions from his wife Kim.

Our goals were:

· To honor those heroes who fought for our freedom on the beaches of Normandy

· To perform as often as possible and for as many different audiences as possible

· To put 100 or more singers on the risers, including our special forces

· To share our music with our fellow brothers in Germany

· To get a “taste” of Europe, and

· To ensure everyone on the trip travelled safely

Our chapter achieved all those goals, and captured memories that will not be forgotten in our lifetime.

Ken shared, “I am fortunate to have been involved with the organization of many great events for the Harmonizers, but none have given me greater satisfaction than this trip; in no small part because of the tremendous support and encouragement that I got from many of our chapter members.  Thanks to all of you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to help make this trip a once-in-a-lifetime experience for so many of you and yet another Harmonizer Breathless Moment.

Ken presented a special framed thank you gift to Mick Stamps, Greg Tepe and Peter Hubbard for their huge amount of work on the main team. Ken also presented a DDay commemorative 2-Euro coin to Joe for his help in making the trip a musical success too.


When Ken ended his remarks, the chapter members rose in a loud and grateful Standing O to express their appreciation to Ken for his leadership and 582 days of work on the project with over 17,000 emails!!


Chapter secretary Chris Buechler presented membership renewal cards to Elliot Roseman for 2 years; Stan Quick for 3 years;  Edris Qarghah for 6 years; Jim Lake for 21 years; Bob Wells for 23 years; and Len Dornberger for 30 years along with his lapel pin.


Nick Leiserson spoke to wrap up the show-of-shows Crescendo weekend with the great Ambassadors of Harmony.  He too gave back a bunch of lost items to the owners.  And thanked all those who worked so hard to make it happen.


He also urged guys to sign up on Groupanizer for summer shows and events.


And he noted that Holiday Show tickets will be going on sale soon.  Joe added that since half of the tickets were sold last December, be sure you get tickets for your family!


With chords from Normandy and Crescendo still ringing in the air, now is the time to think ahead for any uniform requirements. Any problems you might have had over the past couple of weeks should be fresh in your mind. Are you missing any uniform pieces? Has your suit coat or tailcoat shrunk for some reason?  Do you need a makeup kit…or replacement components? Let Tom Kern know by email or catch me on Tuesday evening at Durant. Just for your info…all of our uniform stuff has been moved out of Durant to an off-site storage location…makes the response timeline slightly longer.


Membership vp Jeremy Richardson with help from Rich Hewitt introduced our guests.  Then Joe called for “Keep the Whole World Singing” directed by Len Dornberger and an early dismissal.  A huge crowd made it to LaPortas for the weekly afterglow.  Lots of tag singing there too.


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, 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.)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Looking Back on the June 17th Chapter Meeting

Though it was really hot outside, the hall at Durant was cool – thankfully.  The guys set up all the risers and they were crowded as guys were eager to be back together singing after our trip AND to get ready for this weekend’s major show.

It was wonderful to be home from our awesome trip to France and Germany.  And good to see our buddies who didn’t get to go along – many of them brand new members who couldn’t be ready to go with us.  Also some men and Harmonizer friends are still in Europe. The chapter meetings on June 3 and June 10th were cancelled.

Now we are busy in preparation for summer shows in Alexandria after our huge show with the Ambassadors of Harmony from St. Louis MO area. 

The chorus was welcomed to the risers listening to VOCAL SPECTRUM quartet who will be on our show this weekend.  Associate director Tony Colosimo did the warm ups.  Then we met with director Joe Cerutti via Skype. He was in Nashville at BHS headquarters.  He congratulated the gang on the successful trip and encouraged the guys to work hard tonite AND to sell tickets for the show this weekend.  Joe reminded the chorus that work will begin next Tuesday on the contest ballad.  So download it and get familiar with it.

While the AV crew had the screen set up and all, we did take a quick look at some of the video footage Mike Kelly has been working with.  He is working on a final summary piece.

Tony then had the whole nite to work with the chorus on songs for the weekend.  He too spoke of the important experience we had in France and Germany where we were entertaining and delivering messages to the audience.

Operations vp Bob Blair conducted the chapter meeting starting with a plea from Peggy Wagner, FRIENDS IN HARMONY helper, working to get every man a gold scarf for the show. 

Chapter historian Martin Banks was present to collect memorabilia from the trip for Harmo history collections. He wants everyone to bring in all those great photos, programs, and memorabilia from your Normandy, Paris, and Germany trip for the Alexandria Harmonizers History Archives. Items can be brought to chapter meetings and any items that can be scanned will be returned to you later. If your items are already in a digital format, send them by email to Martin, . Other members of the Harmonizer history team include Bob Blair, Jack Pitzer and Bob Rhome.  

Carl Kauffmann received a significant check from the VFW Post in Virginia Beach in appreciation for our representing the USA in Normandy. 

Chuck McKeever called for a meeting of the visual team at break.

Calvin Schnure announced the next chapter Put Together Quartet contest will be on Tuesday, July 29th.  He offered to help guys who wanna be in that contest but are not currently in a quartet or to help some guys who have parts for a quartet and need help recruiting new singers.

Shows vp Nick Leiserson reported several important details regarding this weekend’s show: The Flash Mob event call time is 5:30 pm on the East side of the Washington Monument.  Do not go directly to the WWII Memorial and do not wear any Harmo logo gear to this event.  We will sing “Stars and Stripes” with the AoH guys.

We are to be at the theater on Saturday at 12:45pm.  Note that there will be a break for dinner AND to change and put on makeup.  Wise to take advantage of the chapter’s offer to get us box dinners.  You must notify Howard Nestlerode before noon on Thursday if you want one for $15.  Or else bring something.

At the theater, we are to park in Lot K.  Note there is graduation on campus while we are there too and so patrons should come early.

Singers need two uniforms: the black suit with the Toronto tie and pocket stuffer, plus the special white shirt for that outfit; and the long tails outfit with white tie, stuffer, vest, and tux shirt.  Both require black shiny shoes, sox, etc.  Make up kit too.

Tickets for customers can be purchased at the door.  There is no planned afterglow on Sat nite.

Nick announced IMPORTANT other show information for all.  First, tickets for the Dec. 2014 holiday dinner show go back on sale July 1st.  Inform your patrons if you want seats!! It is already heavily sold.

And on July 1st, the chapter will meet and sing at Inova Hospital in Alexandria off Seminary Rd. 

President Terry Reynolds welcomed Tim Buell and Edris Qarghag back onto the risers as well as Rick Wagner, getting around pretty well with his cane and standing on the risers for rehearsal. Terry also congratulated Phil and Karen Ashford who were married while the chorus was in France.  Two of our members were engaged recently too and both got “yes” in response – Steve Murane to Robyn McQueen plus Chuck Powell to Donna DeJulius.

Terry did a belated congrats to THE MONORAIL FOUR for capturing first place at the Southern Division contest the weekend before we all left for France.

And finally, Terry congratulated three of our members who recently received CAPPIES (like the Tony awards but for high school students and their teachers):  David Jarzen for Best Song - "You Won't Succeed on Broadway, " Ben Roberts for publicity and marketing; and Peelee Clark as the teacher/coach for the Spamalot production at West Potomac High School which took Best Musical. Congrats to our guys!

Ben also graduated from high school today and he and his parents and grandparents were at rehearsal to celebrate that event too – and brought a yummy cake to share with everyone.  YeEd heard that the speaker at the commencement mentioned Ben had just returned from singing in Normandy.  Way to go Ben in marketing the Harmonizer brand!!!  Congrats again.

Before the break, membership vp Jeremy Richardson with help from Rich Hewitt introduced the guests with us for the evening.

After break, Tony continued working on songs for the weekend including a chunk of time on “Music of the Night” which we will sing with the Ambassadors.

Before we closed, there was reminder that if anyone knows of youth singers who might like to go to the show this weekend, alert Terry.  Also there is a board meeting Wednesday eve at Durant.

After loading the truck with equipment needed for the weekend, a good sized crowd made it to LaPorta’s for the afterglow.

Recently, the M-AD Harmony College East was held at Salisbury University Thursday-Saturday, June 12-14. Three Harmo quartets were there for coaching as they are all going to the International contest in Vegas:  MAYHEM, LAST MAN STANDING, and YOUTH RECLAMATION PROJECT. Several of members, who are district leaders were there to help with the school – Bill Colosimo, Gary Plaag, Alan Wile and Bob Eckman.  Joe Cerutti was there as faculty too.  Drew Fuller, Austin Cotton and Sam McFarland were there too.  There were shows on Fri and Sat nites with quartets at the school. The attendance was good this year and the chow was good, according to reporters to YeEd!


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.)