Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Looking Back on the 2016 International Retreat June 3-4 Westminster MD

This year’s retreat was a huge success from every aspect. 

Coaches David Wright and Cindy Hansen were top-notch and taught us all so much more to do in making our performance exciting.  We also learned more about our arrangements and the music we sing and how to use our instruments to produce the best barbershop harmony. Our songs, for the record, are “Yesterday” with verse based on “A Day in The Life” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”  with “I Get By With A Little Help from My Friends” – both arranged by David Harrington.

Supporting these coaches was our top-notch in-house crew: director Joe Cerutti, associate director Tony Colosimo, assistant director Terry Reynolds, choreographer Carlos Barillo and riser coach Chuck McKeever.

Retreat chairman Chuck McKeever and his team made it all run so smoothly.  The staff at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, was a great help too in setting up breaks, preparing for our arrival in the dorms and having the cafeteria open early each meal .  We stayed in the air conditioned suites again this year. There was plenty of food for sure.

Chuck’s crew included Doug White, who worked hard all weekend to mic the coaches, and help show videos and other AV matters; Jack Cameron, Bob Blair Sam McFarland, Ian Poulin and Keith Jones and Bruce Minnick who helped with retreat admin details; and Gerry Fuller who was the Harmo truck driver to the retreat. Many of them helped get things set up for the early start on Friday nite!!  Keith and Ian provided visual performance support during the retreat too.

This year we officially started at 8 pm Friday nite.  A bad rain storm hampered some guys trip to the retreat, but a large contingent of guys ate at the Irish pub in town.

Joe did the warm up session and officially welcomed our coaches. We started right off doing a run-through of the set for the coaches to see and hear how we were doing so far.  Cindy and Carlos did a work session for the uptune.

We took a break to watch a great YouTube piece that Joe wanted us to see – about the development of “Over The Rainbow” as an arrangement.

We ended Friday with announcements from Chuck about registrations and payments and key turn in and a bandana check for the Class of 2016! (There was one performance of “I’m a Little Teapot” for the one guy who didn’t have his scarf.)

Saturday morning’s kick off at 8:30 am following breakfast in the cafeteria and some housekeeping announcements. Then Joe did a long and solid warm up session for us. He also proudly welcomed our coaches and told the newer guys more about the barbershop backgrounds of David and Cindy.

After that it was solid singing and working on making improvements all day.  There were some mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks, and lunch of course. Often there were meetings of small groups such as the front row, the past presidents of the chapter, or the Class of 2016 (that is the guys singing with us in Nashville who have never sung with the Harmonizers at an International – which means some are brand new barbershop singers and some have earned medals with other chapters and are new to our chapter). Their president this year is Casey Belzer.

The official class list is tenors: Jay Sorenson, Masahasa Takahashi; leads: Casey Belzer, Jason Lee, Art Medici; baris: Jeff Burkey, Jim Kirkland, Antony Takahashi; basses: Tim Cash, Matt Doniger, Tom Jackson, Steve Spar.

Executive director Terry Reynolds served as emcee for the weekend and coordinated announcements during the weekend.  There were some guests during the weekend including Bill Sowers, Bob Echman, and Rob Langston who was there to do photography.  

 Before dinner David refreshed the “Friends” tag that we would use at the end of the weekend. We also viewed a couple more videos to help us in our personal motivation.

About 8:30 pm on Saturday nite we relaxed for the annual party at our retreat.  The college provided a good buffet of warm and cold things and plenty of liquid refreshments for all.

The Class of 2016 did their skit for us all to enjoy.

Joe remarked about the many wonderful highlights of our recent appearance at Strathmore and our work on “I Am Harvey Milk” and briefed us on the class we will present in Nashville about that experience.

Then for a new retreat event, we  got to ask questions about from our coaches – each one took about a half hour of questions from the guys about their experiences, memories, fun stories and personal life.  It was fun for all and helped us all learn more about the Society, our music, and our fellow barbershop singers.

Sunday morning, we turned in our keys to Chuck and crew before entering the cafeteria for breakfast.

And then back on the risers at 8:30 to recap and continue to polish points that had been discovered on Saturday. Tony did another good warm up for the tired voices. Sam took Cindy back to Dulles for an early departure, so David worked with us all morning.

Chuck did some parting remarks and thank yous to crews who helped make the weekend flow.

Then Terry began the wrap up remarks for the weekend including leading the applause for Chuck and his crew.

We concluded the session, locked arms, sang the “Friends” tag (that is for those who could sing it and not get too emotional doing so)!

Everyone pitched into haul the risers, av things, props and signs out to the truck. Then they headed to their homes – with some stops for chow or ice cream en route.

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.