Monday, February 9, 2015

The Harmonizer 2014 Year In Review

(Here is the review that appeared as part of the printed program for our annual award banquet and board installation on Feb. 7th, 2015. A review of that event will be published soon. YeEd)

We began our 2014 year with the Presidents’ Award Banquet at Durant as a social event and as recognition for chapter leaders. Terry Reynolds was elected president for the year.

What a year for our chapter! The chorus embarked on a plan to expand our relationship with the a cappella community with our appearance at Sing Strong over a February weekend in Reston. The thrilling cheers from the crowd there encouraged us. And we hosted our first Aca Challenge contest at the famous Lincoln Theater on U Street NW. We invited six local a cappella groups to compete for the $1000 prize we offered. Ken Rub was overall producer of this new event for us. First place went to Word of Mouth who actually appeared later in the year with us. The chorus debuted new Carlos Barillo choreography for “Miller Medley” to more cheers and applause. Our own TBD a cappella group sang on the show too.

A highlight of our year was traveling to Normandy, France for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landing. In preparation for that trip, we did a send-off event locally and honored about 25 WWII veterans including our own Paul Greiner, and sang the songs we had prepared for France. Congressman Jim Moran, Alexandria Mayor Euille and military officers brought remarks. Music vice president Steve White prompted this event and Randall Eliason organized it.

In early June, 100 singers and 150 other Harmonizer family and friends flew to Paris and on to the Normandy area. We were at three tribute events there – sang at the American Cemetery in Brittany; sang at the musical salute to Liberation and marched in the parade in St. Mere Eglise; and sang at the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. Many members were able to pay tribute at graves of their own relatives.

For many, the crowning moment (Breathless Moment) was the celebration and appearance for the small town Les Ventes France – honoring USA pilot Billie D. Harris. The greatest moment there was singing “Bring Him Home” to his widow, Peggy, who made the trip to be with us. Tony Colosimo sang the solo message to her and we all cried. Thanks to Chris Huber for arranging for this experience during our trip.

Ken Fess and Mick Stamps plus Peter Hubbard did yeoman work to plan, organize and coordinate to get us all there and home. Many members and families spent extra time in Europe as part of the trip. Also during the trip we sang concerts at the cathedral Notre Dame De Chartres, in Paris; at the famous cathedral in Koln, Germany; and a barbershop show with our new friends of the Erster Kolner chorus.

Just before we left to go to France, several Harmonizers competed in the Southern Division contest in Roanoke. The first place quartet was THE MONORAIL FOUR with Kellen Hertz, Phil Ferguson, Bobby Seay VI and Andrew Havens. Their win continued a tradition with at least one Harmonizer in a quartet winning that contest since 2001.

And as soon as we got home from Europe, we hosted the great Ambassadors of Harmony chorus for a spectacular show with us at George Mason University in Fairfax. We hosted their 120-man chorus and families in our homes, did a flash-mob with them at the WWII Memorial in DC, and helped their chorus tour DC.

Since we had gone to France we did not compete at the Las Vegas International but Harmonizers were in several quartets that did represent us there: THROWBACK with Sean Devine was 7th; LAST MEN STANDING with TJ Barranger, Drew Feyrer, Ed Bell and Mike Kelly was 29th; and MAYHEM with Matt Fellows, Pookie Dingle, Mike Pinto and Ken White was 33rd.

In the summer we did local concerts for the City of Alexandria at Market Square and John Carlyle Park plus at Alexandria INOVA Hospital. Our a cappella group TBD and several quartets made appearances in the DC Metro area representing the chapter. The chapter revamped its Singing Valentine activity for 2014 and (despite bad snow storms) delivered free appearances to key individuals or groups in the greater Alexandria area.

The Alexandria Harmonizers returned to the contest cycle and won the fall M-AD contest in Wildwood NJ, Oct. 25th. We proudly scored 90.9% earning a spot in the contest in Pittsburgh. We sang “Someone Like You” arranged by Steve Tramack and “Anything Goes” arranged by Kevin Keller. New M-AD quartet champ was LAST MEN STANDING with Mike Kelly. Several members of our chapter provide leadership for the Mid Atlantic District including Bill Colosimo, president.

On the heels of that weekend, we hosted a spectacular “Harmony on the Harbor” show preceding the SAI convention in Baltimore. We were proud to have done this show in cooperation with the Pride of Baltimore Sweet Adeline chorus. Ken Fess and Mick Stamps made this one happen again!

Several times during the year we did youth harmony events at area schools, at our 6th annual Youth Harmony Festival, and for a Veterans Day event at Oakton Elementary. We did a number of paying appearances during the year locally in Virginia and Maryland. Thanks to Bruce Lauther for his marketing efforts.

Our annual holiday dinner theater shows at First Baptist were sold out and hugely successful. Brad Jones and Randall Eliason organized a profitable online/silent auction. New financial support efforts were led by our newly elected community board members. Santa and all the elves and toys sang and danced and served as waiters.

The musical team for this year included Joe Cerutti, director; Tony Colosimo, associate director; Terry Reynolds, Mike Kelly and Will Cox (who retired his director duties though he continues to sing with us) assistant directors; Carlos Barillo, choreographer. Greg Tepe is our traveling show producer and Mark Klostermeyer is chorus manager.

During the holidays we had fun caroling in Old Town Alexandria. Our weekly afterglow is at La Portas on Duke Street.

The FRIENDS IN HARMONY headed by Sandy Stamps supported the chapter all year with help on meeting nights, uniform repair and maintenance, house management at shows, and fund raising with scrip and White House Ornament sales.

Membership at the end of the year was 225. Only one chapter member, Roger Day, was added to the memorial roll during the year.

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.