Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Looking Back on the Singing Valentines Project (Feb 17th Chapter Meeting Canceled)

(Thanks to Randall Eliason for this report. YeEd)


Eighteen Harmonizers, combining into 6 different quartets, performed 37 Singing Valentines for the Alexandria community on February 13 and 14. Performance venues included 12 restaurants, 9 nursing homes/senior centers, 5 schools, and other locations including Alexandria City Hall, the Northern VA Fine Arts Association (Athenaeum), the Torpedo Factory Arts Center, First Baptist Church, and the Old Dominion Boat Club.


Last year the chapter board changed the mission of the Singing Valentines program from a fundraiser to community outreach, with free performances particularly focused on restaurants, schools, and senior centers in our local community. Snowstorms last year forced the cancellation of many of the gigs, so this was the first year we were able fully to implement the community outreach plan. It was a big success and we learned a lot of lessons that will help us improve and grow the program for future years.


A big thank you to the following people for doing the work that made it all possible:


Clyde Crusenberry and Ninamarie Maragioglio for all the work on outreach and marketing, contacting the various locations to arrange the gigs. Calvin Schnure for acting as quartet-master, recruiting singers and grouping them into quartets.


Noah Van Gilder, outgoing marketing VP, for setting the program in motion and for designing the flyer. Josh Roots and Scipio Garling for creating and posting a Valentines order form for the Harmonizer website. Tena Branstetter for acting as photographer for some of the quartet gigs.


Brian Ammerman, Tim Buell, Clyde Crusenberry, Josh Desportes, Don Dillingham, Drew Fuller, Gerry Fuller, Joel Golden, Ken Henderson, Troy Hillier, Carl Kaufmann, Bruce Lauther, Steve Murane, Chris Odell, Chuck Powell, Rick Savage, Aaron Simoneau, and Alan Wile, who braved the wind chills to sing in the quartets. Special thanks to Tim and Chuck who stepped in as last minute pinch-hitters when other guys developed a conflict or didn't feel well.


Thanks too to all the men who indicated their willingness to sing in a quartet but who ended up not being needed - we'll get you next year.


And a special thanks to Bruce Lauther, who has carried on his own version of community service Singing Valentines for years with a quartet he calls "Four From the Heart," which was a key part of the Harmonizer program this year. Bruce also designed a Valentines card that all quartets had available to distribute to their audiences.


The men who participated found it great fun and very rewarding - here is just a sampling of their experiences:


  • Carl, Bruce, Drew and Alan had a great reception at TC Williams High School with arts principal Shawn Thorpe, where they sang for teachers, a group of music educators from 14 Alexandria and Fairfax high schools, and two large student choral groups who responded to their performance with screams and a standing ovation. The men were also able to plug our own Youth Harmony Festival and encourage the students to participate.
  • Aaron, Tim, Chris and Steve received an employee discount for dinner after singing upstairs and downstairs at the Hard Times Cafe. They finished their evening with a great gig at the Valentines Party at the Old Dominion Boat Club, where they were invited to stay for free food and drink, chatted with the Club president and others about the Harmonizers, and even recruited a potential new bass.
  • Rick, Clyde, Troy and Joel got a very appreciative reception at a number of senior centers that were having their Valentines Day celebration and made the quartet part of the party. At the Mt. Vernon Nursing Home, where Joe Cerutti Sr. works, Joe introduced them to a resident whose brother, Nelson Sublet, used to be a Harmonizer. When the quartet met the resident, Dan, and sang for him, he wept.
  • Brian, Tim, Gerry and Don sang for about 50-60 very engaged and enthusiastic elementary school students at the Cora Kelly Magnet School. Don was able to talk to the students for a bit and now they are all fired up to go win a gold medal in Pittsburgh! They also sang for a group of teachers, and one came up to them afterwards with tears in her eyes because her father sings for a chorus in MA and they reminded her of him.
  • Aaron, Josh, Chris and Ken sang at the Torpedo Factory, where they met a man who said he had just been at open auditions and was excited about coming to sing with them on Tuesday. They finished their evening at a few restaurants, where they were accosted by adoring female fans demanding photos and songs.
  • Drew, Chuck, Troy and Joel did the Valentines Day version of our Christmas "pub crawl," singing to appreciative crowds at a number of Old Town restaurants, including singing at individual tables to the delight of the couples who were out having their Valentines Day dinner.

All of the men also enjoyed the opportunity to sing in some new quartet combinations with their fellow Harmonizers. Next year: more singers, more Valentines, and more spreading the love.


It's great to be a Valentiner!  -- Randall



A huge snow fall hit the DC metro area starting about 3 pm on Monday, so by 11 pm the City of Alexandria had closed offices and schools for Tuesday.  And thus our president Terry Reynolds declared no chapter meeting using our Yahoo communications group. Everyone was encouraged to work on their music and visual reviews.


In other news from the past weekend, kudos to Tony  and Joe who were invited to be guest clinicians of the Middle and High School All-District Choruses for District 9 of the Virginia Choral Directors Association. It is very rare for prestigious choral events like this to invite clinicians with a barbershop background to serve in this capacity, however, both men have comprehensive backgrounds in choral music education, but were invited in their capacity as the music leadership of the Alexandria Harmonizers.

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.


Looking Back on the Feb 10th Chapter Meeting and Tribute to Will Cox 

Durant was a hubbub of activity last nite with many guests coming to honor Will Cox, special set up details for that event and the usual chapter operation, a visual review on the stage, a front row work session in a meeting room, and coffee refreshments on this cold nite. (Thanks to the many members who have contributed goodies over the last couple weeks – keep em coming.)


There was an accident on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge from MD into VA and that delayed a lot of members and guests.  But soon the backlog let loose and they arrived.


Choreographer Carlos Barillo did a visual warm up session and then director Joe Cerutti did the vocal warm ups. We worked on show songs and did a warm up with a Valentine song.


It is Singing Valentine season – so we called Peggy Harris in Vernon, TX, and sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” When we reached her by telephone, she seemed to be waiting for our call since she said she had the picture of us singing for her in Les Ventes France on her lap.  No doubt Chris Huber, the organizer for that great Harmonizer event, had called her to be sure she was home.   She spoke fondly of all the men she met and how much we have come to mean to her.


In other Singing Valentine news: congrats to our own John Hohl that the BHS Marketplace promoted one of his arrangements to barbershoppers to sing for Valentines events this year – “Can’t Help Falling in Love/Love Me Tender.”


Joe took a chunk of time to revise riser placement so that when Carlos starts teaching the moves for the contest uptune, we will learn them close to where we will be on the risers for contest. He introduced Mike Geipel who will be a special forces singer with us in Pittsburgh.


At eight pm, we did a little set up change and began the tribute to Will Cox in honor of his 34 years as assistant director for the Harmonizers.  His wife Anna Ruth was with him tonite as she has been during his many years as a chorus director, quartet guy, and particularly as the guru for vocal warm up sessions.  They were given seats of honor upfront.


Will served under five chorus directors during his years: Scott Werner, John Hohl, Terry Reynolds, Richard Lewellen and Joe.  There were video messages from Scott, John and Richard as well as from Marty Monson, CEO of the BHS, and fellow assistant director Chuck Hunter in Istanbul. Joe spoke for all of us in his thanks for and recognition of Will’s years of dedication and service to the chapter and chorus.


We also got to relive, via video, some of the great and humorous moments of Will’s show appearances – especially his uproariously fun rendition of “The Night Before Christmas…”


There were gifts: to Anna Ruth (a quilt made by Kim Fess); and to Will - a framed memento of Will with all the directors; a notebook collection of email messages compiled by Dean Rust from many; and finally a “director’s chair” with the Harmo logo on it and a plate on the back:



Presented to

Willard “Will” Cox

In recognition and appreciation for

Over 30 years as Assistant Musical Director


Steve White, a long–time front row guy with Will and quartet singer with Will, gave a genealogy of Will’s barbershop career such as district champ quartet lead, front row for many years in the chorus, section leader for lead or baritones, and recipient of several of the chapter’s major awards.


Chris Huber and his wife Judy headed up this tribute event.  Ike Evans was photographer, Mike Kelly did a lot of work on the audio visual shows, Bob Blair and others set up the room with chairs for guests, Doug White and crew worked on sound for the event. Chapter historian Martin Banks prepared a very interesting and thorough display honoring Will’s years of service.


There was cake and soda and coffee for all to enjoy. Thanks to Chris and Judy Huber and Sam McFarland for getting the supplies in and helping to serve along with Kevin Kaiser and Jack Pitzer.


After the celebration time, it was back on the risers to work on our music – especially several times thru “Thriller” with the stage plan.  The front row is doing some great work on this song too!!


Operations vp Todd Ryktarsyk conducted a brief chapter meeting since president Terry Reynolds was on travel.


Secretary Chris Buechler presented membership renewal cards to Peelee Clark for two years; Aaron Simoneau for two years, Jacob George for four years, and Chuck Powell for 21 years.


Music vp  Steve White  alerted everyone that “Happy” is available online.  He also alerted us that we will be making recordings on upcoming Tuesday nite sessions – all at First Baptist Church in the main hall where we have our holiday show.  Mike Kelly asked for members who have a large piece of carpet they can bring to cover the floor in front of the risers during recordings to let him know.


After such a great meeting, rehearsal and celebration, there was a good crowd for the afterglow at LaPorta’s at 1600 Duke.  Come join the fun next week.


Will Cox directed KTWWS to close out the meeting at Durant.


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.