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


Monday, April 11, 2016

Looking Back on the April 5th Chapter Meeting

So much going on with our chapter this month, but two big ones are done, Youth Harmony Festival is this weekend, and soon comes the Milk show!!  Great to see such dedication from the singers and leaders and admin teams.

Tuesday we had to meet at First Baptist cause Durant Rec Center was undergoing some repair work on the floors. The 6 pm time slot was filled with front row guys working up a sweat in a side room on their routines for the uptune. Set up crews jumped right to work when the Harmo truck arrived and got the risers, sound and av materials ready to use.

There were a number of us under the weather this week, but the show must go on.

Associate director Tony Colosimo did the warm ups and then turned the chorus over to director Joe Cerutti.  Joe was full of excitement about the successful nite at the UMD men’s invitational (and the warm comments from other musical directors at that event).  It was clear the message go thru to the younger college singers there that barbershop can be a great option for singing after college.

Joe took time to knock out the rhythms and tricky work combinations for the back part of the uptune.  And choreographer Carlos Barillo introduced some basics for the ballad.

Chapter executive director Terry Reynolds welcomed some members we don’t see often – Al Hannenbaum, Bob Sutton; Terry thanked Bob Mattes for preparing the music books for us to use at UMD. Chapter director of education Vickie Dennis was in house too as the chair for this weekend’s Youth Harmony Festival.

Many hands will be needed during the day on Sat (and some in fact on Fri eve for set up).  Chorus call is 5:45 pm with casual uniform and tennis shoes.  Also chorus is asked to park on the streets so parents and families of the youth will find parking when they come to hear their child sing.

Terry suggests we all be alert for emails in case Durant is not ready to go back on Tues.

Then the Milk show rehearsals are Mon, Tues, Thursday and Saturday at Strathmore. 

Finally there were sign-up sheets for attending visual studios.

President Randall Eliason spoke about the Spring2Action campaign for non-profits in our community. He has asked some guys to be precinct captains to help us all do our parts.

Chapter secretary Chris Buechler presented membership renewal cards to Art Medici for 7 years; Kevin McKenzie for 17 years; Tom Jackson for 21 years; Brad Jones for 24 years; Dennis Ritchey for 24 years; Sam McFarland for 29 years; Bob Sutton for 32 years; and Will Cox for 38 years.  Both Al Hannenbaum and Bruce Lauther received their 30 years and customary lapel pin.

Director of membership Rich Hewitt introduced applicants and guests and had Will Cox direct the welcome song.

In other news, congrats to Tom Berkey who stayed in DC last Sat nite so as to be ready for the Cherry Blossom Run around the tidal basin very early Sunday morning.   Congrats.

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