Friday, April 29, 2016

Looking Back on the April 26th Chapter Meeting

This week we launched our serious work on the contest package and celebrated our successful performances at Strathmore.  (There was no chapter meeting at Durant on April 19th as we rehearsed at Strathmore that evening.)

Associate director Tony Colosimo did the vocal warm ups with choreographer Carlos Barillo. Director Joe Cerutti did a wrap up from Strathmore and invited any members who wanted to comment to come to the mic.  Many guys poured out thoughts and reactions from the heart and it was another moving outcome from the “I Am Harvey Milk” experience.

Then we jumped right into working on the contest package and it included some times for different voice parts to go into sectional rehearsal for parts of the song.

Executive director Terry Reynolds made the announcements (and they were sent to all members): (1) our third Armed Forces Day Show will be Sat May 21st (some earlier announcements that it was on Sunday were wrong) at Ft. Myer chapel. (2) Mark Klostermeyer is taking orders for Strathmore photos – both framed or unframed. (3) As a follow up to our Strathmore appearance and our support of the show there, we have been invited to their annual gala and its after party with a special Harmo rate. (4) Many details listed about contest rehearsals including the switch in on for them to become mandatory at this point, check the calendar for vocal and visual sessions, a form was provided for members to record their personal Valor points, and the reminder about the contest retreat – sign up for roommates and pay your retreat fee to Bruce Minnick.

Chapter president Randall Eliason reported on the recent death of Mike Fultz, gave a wrap up report for Spring2Action, and did a wrap up report about the recent M-AD prelims where some quartets with Harmonizers qualified for the International contest in Nashville in July (DA CAPO and LAST MEN STANDING):

According to many sources, former Harmonizer Mike Fultz died April 14th. Mike was the son-in-law of Linda and (Harmonizer Director Emeritus) Scott Werner. There are several accounts of the causes of his death in social media coverage but most comprehensive is that apparently Mike was hit by a car while biking; and although there were no obvious signs of injury at the time. a day or two or three later he died as a result of bleeding of the brain. Mike and Pam were well known and loved dearly by the Harmonizer family during their time in the area. Mike was a U.S. Park Police officer.

Congratulations on a truly outstanding effort during Spring2ACTion April 20th. (We all certainly extend a huge congrats to chapter president Randall Eliason for his dedication to get us all involved to make this happen.) When we add in all donations (on and off the website) and the matching grant, our total will be more than $23,000!


This is a terrific result that will really help our bottom line this year. Thanks to those who sent out the e-mails, shared the Facebook posts, and otherwise helped spread the word -- and those who made their own contribution.


This was our first time participating in Spring2ACTion, and we earned an extra $1500 in prize money for being the first-time organization with the most donors. We also learned some lessons that will help us make next year even bigger and more successful.


Chapter secretary Chris Buechler presented a membership renewal card to Alan Kousen for 49 years.

Membership director Rich Hewitt welcomed several guests, some new applicants and several men returning to the risers to work on the contest package.

For break, we celebrated a belated birthday for Dick Dangel with a great cake.  And peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from Peggy Wagner.

After the break we worked more on the contest package including a session on visual performance efforts for the ballad, and before we left, we did the whole package for filming (check out the videos posted by Chuck McKeever).

In other news, from Mike Everard comes this announcement:  the Mount Vernon VA Chapter, Harmony Heritage Singers, is celebrating its 20th anniversary along with a salute to Bob Wachter with a luncheon on Thursday, June 23rd at 11 am in the Mount Vernon Room of the Officers Club at Fort Belvoir. Reservations no later than June 1st for $35 each to Lou Manfre, 7608 Elmore Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817.  Checks to Harmony Heritage Singers. For more info, contact Everard at

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Looking Back on the April 23-24 Performances of “I Am Harvey Milk” at Strathmore

The performances were among the most successful and perhaps the most rewarding experiences we ever had as a chorus.  Audience reactions to our work was awesome!  For some of us who have been Harmonizers a long time, it ranks high on the list of “breathless moments;” and for new Harmonizers, it is likely the top of their list so far.


For months we have worked hard to prepare.  First off, thanks to director Joe Cerutti for having the faith (and courage) that we could do it.  Plus thank you for the hard work from associate director Tony Colosimo for helping teach us the music and preparing the learning materials; from Tom Jackson for our rehearsal piano accompaniment; and from Carlos Barillo for choreography coaching.


The faith and support from the folks at Stathmore in taking on the project and inviting us to be the chorus was a great thrill too.  We so much appreciated the help from executive producer Rolando Sanz in the weeks leading up to the performance; and the great team work we established with musical director and conductor Joel Fram; and the fun we had with choreographer Larry Keigwin. We also had camaraderie with the sixteen additional singers/dancers from NYC who joined us for the performances.


Certainly we must congratulate and thank Andrew Lippa for the words and music.  We have all been changed!


What a pleasure working with the other soloists Kristen Chenoweth (well known for her role in “Wicked”), and young Colin Wheeler who was the young boy Harvey Milk, and Andrew Lippa. Our portion of the performance was actually the second half of the nite following another oratorio titled “I Am Anne Hutchinson” which was also written by Andrew. All of the soloists were integrated into that music too.  This was the first-ever production of Anne Hutchinson.


For several months (the first learning tapes were posted for us in December of 2015) we have been having extra rehearsals and using half of our regular meeting nite time to work on this oratorio.  We also were joined by several men who auditioned to sing with us at Strathmore.  We affectionately called them “milkmen” and thank them for the extra hours to work on this with us.  They include Taylor Good, Nelson Robin, Aaron Watts, Larry Cohen, Masahisa Takahaski, Mario Sengco, Dan Hallada, Dan Kaufman, Mark Medrick, Ben Cherington, Joe Bremberg and Justin McCright. Some Harmonizers came back to sing with us too including Max Kieba and Geoff  Berman. There were 110 of us in black pants, shoes and a brilliant blue t-shirt we all wore. The chorus was in two rows on a balcony above the stage behind The National Philharmonic Orchestra.


Last week there were rehearsals with the whole cast, a couple of dress rehearsals with the orchestra and then Saturday nite at 8 pm and Sunday afternoon at 4 the concerts began.


We were all pleased to see so many of our patrons and family members and personal friends at the performance.  Marty Monson (CEO of the Barbershop Harmony Society) and his family drove from Nashville to be with us on Saturday nite. He and his son Luke stopped in to say hello to the chorus and thank us for making this leap into another musical world.  And our coach and friend Cindy Hansen took a red-eye flight from CA to be there on Sunday.


Of course it took a lot of coordination for this weekend to be a success and we thank our chapter’s executive director, Terry Reynolds, for keeping us informed.

At each gathering we did the usual warm ups with Tony; and then Joe and Tony helped us with spots to refresh or to help us adjust to the changes/suggestions from the conductor. Chorus manager Mark Klostermeyer kept us ready to be in the right place at the right time.


The Strathmore costume department helped us with our uniforms and prepared them between shows. The facility is a great venue and we all hope there will more opportunities to appear there.


After Sunday’s performance, we were honored to get a photo with Kristen Chenoweth.  Ken Rub took photos all weekend.  And of course almost every guy got a photo with his cell phone!


Thanks to chapter leaders including Clyde Crusenberry and Carl Kauffmann and many FRIENDS IN HARMONY for a fun afterglow nearby the venue after the Sunday show.  We were all plenty hungry and ate “a lot” of pizza! And we celebrated Joe’s birthday with cake and candles!


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


Looking Back on the M-AD Prelims in Reading, PA April 15-16, 2016

(Many thanks to Randall Eliason for his coverage of this year’s contest weekend.)

Quartets that include Harmonizers among their members made an outstanding showing at the Mid-Atlantic District Prelims on April 15 and 16. With the quality of the quartets in this District, attending Prelims is almost like going to a mini-International!


After the first round on Friday night, four quartets that include Harmonizers -- Da Capo, Last Men Standing, Warehouse Flats, and Forecast - had made it into the top ten and earned the right to compete in the finals on Saturday night.


Handsome Reward (Mike Edison, Michael Gilmore) just missed making it into the top ten and had the honor of being the mic testers for the Saturday night finals.


A relatively new quartet, Cabin Fever (Alan Kousen, Calvin Schnure, John Santora) competed in the Seniors competition on Friday night, and made a strong showing. In a Steve Harvey moment, the emcee announced from the podium that they had won the Seniors’ competition - but the scoresheets later revealed that they were actually second place! The quartet has announced they are considering changing their name to Miss Colombia.


Friday night also featured a Mixed Quartet (two male and two female singers) competition, and the second place award in that category went to Just 4 Fun, which many of us were surprised to see includes our own Kevin McKenzie.


In addition, Friday night included the Youth Quartet qualifying round, and two MAD Youth Quartets, Students of the Game and Brothers in Arms, qualified to compete in the Harmony Foundation Youth Quartet Contest in July.


Daytime on Saturday featured the District's Youth Adjudication, with about 10 high school quartets (both boys and girls) competing, including an excellent girl's quartet from Gaithersburg coached by our friend Sheryl Berlin.


During the quartet finals on Saturday night, Da Capo (Anthony Colosimo, Andrew Havens) came in first place with an overall score of 83.8.


Last Men Standing (Mike Kelly) came in 5th, with a 78.2.


Forecast (Dan Cook) came in 6th, with a 74.4, and


Warehouse Flats (Steve White) came in 8th, with a 72.2.


Five MAD quartets qualified to compete at International in Nashville this summer: Da Capo and Last Men Standing, along with Route 1, Gimme Four, and Frank the Dog.


Sunday morning was the House of Delegates meeting, which featured remarks by BHS CEO Marty Monson. Many Harmonizers are active in the District leadership, and we were well represented.


It was a great weekend, and all of the Harmonizers participating made us proud!


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