Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Looking Back on the April 9th Youth Harmony Festival in Alexandria

Coodinator Bill Colosimo sends this thank you message to all of the

Harmonizer family:


As I reflect on the wonderful Youth Harmony Festival this weekend, I am humbled to recall the selfless help of so many of you to make this event a resounding success. The overwhelmingly positive “in the moment” responses from students, music educators, family members and guests—including so many of you who witnessed the fruits of the amazing work the young men and women put in—still resound in my memory! There are countless stories which will fill the full “report” of the event, complete with photos and video interviews, which attest to the ways in which you, through your commitment and skill, enriched the lives of some extraordinary young people by offering a first-class barbershop festival experience.


The gift of music education you provided stirred the hearts of the first five TC Williams students to ever attend such an event, and they committed to spread the word to the other students in their outstanding choral program that this is an event “not to be missed” next year! In fact, that’s true of ALL the student participants! Imagine the exchange student from the Eastern European Republic of Moldova, for whom such a special, new experience inspired her to “tell EVERYONE in (her) country about BARBERSHOP HARMONY!” The skill of our incredible clinicians, Anthony Colosimo  and Vera Crouse, along with the superlative teaching quartets, C’EST LA VIE and THE NEWFANGLED FOUR, convinced the loyal music educators present to align with us in aggressive promotion of ALL our “CHOYCE” initiative programs to their school district colleagues. Finally, the performances by all our ensembles, including an outstanding appearance by the Harmonizers chorus, convinced parents, family and other guests—many of whom had never witnessed our art form in person—of the wonderful value of what we teach and what we do…and the tremendously positive impact it can have on the lives of young people.


I am most indebted to Vickie Dennis, as Harmonizer Director of Education, for her tireless work and encouragement to help make this event so successful. Terry Reynolds and Joe Cerutti constituted the remainder of our “planning team;” I am grateful to them for their invaluable help. I must also single out Brad Jones, whose experience as past chair and quiet, steady countenance throughout the planning stages contributed to the smoothing of many “behind the scenes” processes. We have publicly thanked the clinicians and quartets who gave their “all” to us Saturday. But it is impossible, without unfortunate omission, to appropriately acknowledge ALL the other Harmonizers, family members and friends who contributed in ANY way to the day’s event. PLEASE know our hearts are full of gratitude for everything, every task, and every minute of time you contributed, large or small, momentary or—in some cases—all day and evening! Your selflessness and the clear joy you exhibited throughout the event speaks volumes about your commitment to help us continue to broaden our youth outreach initiatives, including our NEXT Festival in 2017!


One final, affirming note for all of you. Just today, I attended the Alexandria Commission for the Arts’ Grant Task Force meeting, open to the public and all applicants’ representatives, during which the Harmonizers’ grant application was discussed by the panel. Although I was there primarily to represent The Alexandria Singers, I was present for and attentive to the discussion regarding the Harmonizers. Suffice it to say that the “number one plus” of all the positive comments regarding the Harmonizers’ grant proposal was the extent of successful YOUTH OUTREACH, current and planned, embodied in the proposal, with particular reference to the CHOYCE initiative. (In fact, the designated “presenter” of the grant for consideration by the panel even took the time to translate the acronym: "Comprehensive Harmonizers Outreach for Youth Choral Education!”) This year’s festival is one component of the fine work for which the Harmonizers are justifiably recognized.


Congratulations on YOUR success…and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to work closely with all of you!"  Bill Colosimo


This was the 9th annual youth harmony festival the chapter has hosted. About 60 youth attended and about 10 music educators. Many parents and family friends attended the Saturday nite show to hear the student groups and the Harmo chorus at Convergence Church.  Social time, breaks and meals were hosted by the chapter during the day in the Convergence Lab building across the street.

As a surprise, Elizabeth Ryktarsyk, daughter of Todd, filled in on a song with the guest quartet on the show too. Congrats!!

Devon Thompson, son of Don, sang in the boy’s chorus. And the only student tenor in the boy’s chorus was our own “milkman” singer – Masahisa Takahaski. Congrats to them too!

The chorus sang “America, “Lullaby,” “Bring Him Home,” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Tony directed and sang the solo.

 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 67th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd


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