Thursday, June 30, 2016

Looking Back on the June 28th Chapter Meeting and Charter Nite Celebration

This was a milestone nite in Harmonizer history – celebration of our chartering as a chapter 68 years ago – and right here in Durant Center!!  There were 19 guys who signed on that nite.  Jack Pitzer spoke briefly about that charter nite in1948. Director Joe Cerutti spoke about where we go from here based on the foundation of those great barbershoppers. (YeEd wonders how many other chapters are still meeting in the same hall where they got their first charter?)

Martin Banks and John Smith prepared a historical display for all to enjoy including the actual charter signed by O C Cash, and Bob Blair with help from Kevin Kaiser had “birthday” cake for all served in the lobby, Joe brought another cake made by SAI member Ashley Miller featuring our medals and logo and historical points. All yummmmy.

But of course the chapter was also hard at work in preparation for our trip to Nashville for the International convention and contest.

Even with the large crowd of family and friends and other barbershop guests, the front row worked on their routine in front of the risers in the main hall. At 7 pm, associate director Tony Colosimo did the vocal warm ups.  (He got a lot of cheers of congrats for his quartet appearance singing the National Anthem this weekend for the ball game.)

When Joe took the helm, he welcomed some long time members with us this week and also welcomed the early arrivals from BING who will be singing with us at the send off on June 30th. He then had the chorus start each contest song three times in a row to get the juices flowing. He and his team used every minute to refine and remind and rekindle excitement.

Chapter executive director Terry Reynolds reminded everyone about the send off on Thursday at the Providence Presbyterian Church on Little River Turnpike.  Chapter singers due there at 7 pm dressed in contest uniform.  Actual performance for guests will be at 8 pm.

Our convention director Craig Kujawa covered a few last minute points: he will be passing out remaining convention registrations; Mark Klostermeyer is coordinating chorus photo sales; every Harmonizer is welcome to attend the Togetherness breakfast on Friday in Nashville and should get a  ticket for it from Steve Murane or buy a guest ticket from Jacob George on Thursday nite; there will be a Harmo Hideaway on Wed and Thurs nite in Nashville at our hotel; the combined hospitality room with other M-AD choruses will be Sat nite in our hotel

Chapter secretary Chris Buechler reminded all members to alert him if there is an change in contact info or address if you move. Membership director Rich Hewitt welcomed our guests and we sang the Harmo welcome song to all.

The coffee and goodies for break were a welcome treat for all – especially those who had to rush in early from work or dodge the rain storm to get to chapter.  Thanks to those members who brought in some goodies to restock the cupboard for break time.

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 68th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Looking Back on a Compilation of  June 16-June 23 Events with Harmonizer Participation

(Thanks to all those who sent messages and took notes to help record while YeEd was out of commission for surgery – YeEd)

This report covers:

1st  - Harmony College East weekend June 16-18

2nd  - Rehearsal June 21st

3rd  - Harmony Heritage Singers Anniversary Luncheon and Tribute to Bob Wachter June 23rd

4th  - CROSSROADS in DC on Capitol Hill

5th  - Extra Chorus Rehearsal June 23rd

First - Alan Wile reported on the M-AD organized Harmony College East (HCE) weekend June 16-18th at Salisbury University in MD.  DACAPO was there and a number of our members were there for classes or to teach, coach or provide admin support for the weekend or receive coaching in preparation for the International quartet contest. Former member Mike Louque was on the faculty again for the youth program. Alan did his usual good job as arm twister to get guys to contribution to the M-AD Endowment Fund that provides scholarships for HCE each year.

Second - the rehearsal on Tuesday June 21st at Durant was, of course, a major work session in preparation for the chorus going to Nashville. Coach Cindy Hansen was in town to push us forward in our performance efforts. Director Joe Cerutti and his music team continued to help us refine and improve the contest package. Some time was also used to refresh our music for the “I Am Harvey Milk” class in Nashville. SAI quartet CLASS RING sang for the chapter. And the chorus got a sneak preview of the costumes for the front row in the uptune.

Third - Mike Everard reported on the Harmony Heritage Singers Anniversary Luncheon and Tribute to Bob Wachter June 23rd . This was a celebration for the 20th anniversary of the Mt. Vernon Chapter and a salute to Bob for his dedication from the beginning as their director.  He recently became director emeritus and Drew Fuller was named director.

Bob spoke and shared his thoughts and joys from the successes of HHS. Harmonizer John Adams came to town for the event as he had been instrumental in promoting the formation of the day-time chorus. Marty Monson sent his regards as CEO of the BHS. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors presented plaque awards.  A good number of Harmonizers attended the luncheon at Ft. Belvoir Officer Club.  Chuck McKeever did a video of the event.

Fourth – Harmonizer Joe Cerutti was on Capitol Hill on June 23rd with CROSSROADS quartet for their recognition as 2016 Stand for Music Award winner from the National Association for Music Education (WAfME). The quartet was specifically honored for their efforts as advocates for music education.

Fifth – the extra rehearsal on June 23rd was at Providence Presbyterian Church, 9019 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax VA 22031. Since Joe was on Capitol Hill, associate director Tony Colosimo was at the helm for the nite. He stimulated hard work and help singers prepare for Nashville.  He asked octets to come down and do the uptune several times. There was a large crew of chapter fans sewing uniform parts for the contest package too. Past Harmonizer president John Adams was in the house too.

Looking ahead: Tues June 28th is charter nite celebration for our 68th year; International send off is Thursday June 30th at Providence Presbyterian Church (guest can attend at 7 or wait til closer to 8 to see the contest package); we are hosting German barbershoppers this week too.

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, June 27, 2016

Looking Back on the June 14, 2016 Chapter Meeting


A riser crew began to assemble by 6:00 p.m. A new riser configuration was used with two sections of six risers, each, arranged at opposite ends of the hall, facing each other (one for stage left; the other for stage right), with a sizeable amount of floor space between them. As usual, Ginny Wells helped put the visitor chairs out – this time in the middle of the room, facing the open space between the risers. Chuck McKeever held a choreo review session in a separate room. Director Joe Cerutti, Choreographer Carlos Barillo, and the front row blocked some uptune moves/positions from the risers and to/in the open floor space. Carolyn and Dick Hall set up their 50-50 positions at tables on the opposite side of the room from the guest chairs. Big changes all around that created quite a stir … until explained.

Associate Director Tony Colosimo conducted the warm-ups and taught a tag in the process: “Somewhere she’s all alone without you.” After a few words by Joe, Carlos provided needed choreo instruction for segments of both the uptune and the ballad, after which Joe worked the chorus on the ballad (bubbling, single voice, duets, three part, and full chorus).

Executive Director Terry Reynolds conducted the business meeting. He announced (1) that Education Director Vickie Dennis has taken the position of musical director of the Upper Chesapeake (Sweet Adelines International) Chorus; (2) that information about upcoming special rehearsals and the chorus’ sendoff (with a German chorus) would be coming out this week; (3) that Contest Director Craig Kujawa is in need of a second member to drive the Harmo-truck to Nashville; (4) that there will be a “Togetherness Breakfast” on Friday morning, prior to our contest appearance in Nashville – that there will be no cost for Harmonizers and a $30 charge for guests; and (5) that orders for chorus photos (taken on the international stage following our contest set) are being taken by Chorus Manager Mark Klostermeyer.

Joe announced that the two Joe Ceruttis were producing a golf tournament to benefit veterans and wounded warriors on July 15th at an area resort. Volunteers are invited to pick up and contribute to housing the participants at the resort (cost: $380).

Continuing, Terry (6) highlighted a message from Chapter President Randall Eliason (currently traveling) about a proposal to have a joint hospitality room with the other competing M-AD choruses on Saturday night of the convention weekend; he asked for a show of hands of those who would support/attend such an event with/without guests and received a positive response; (7) that there would be rehearsals for our “Harvey Milk” class on Friday night of the convention weekend following the chorus results “call off” and again on Saturday morning prior to the presentation later in the day … with a song list coming soon; (8) that Ike Evans is continuing to take pictures for the Chapter picture board; and (9) that cake celebrating Steve Murane’s birthday (6/13) would be served in the lobby during the break.

Membership Director Rich Hewitt first called out the Class of 2016 to ascertain whether each member had his scarf on his person. Evidently each did. Then he introduced the current applicants and guests, asking section leaders to be prepared to attend auditions later in the evening.

Finally taking a break, while chorus members and guests enjoyed coffee, goodies, and cake (prepared by Kevin Kaiser), Don Dillingham conducted a brief HAKA rehearsal on the stage.

Following the break, Joe had the chorus sit down and listen (LISTEN) to recordings of the Westminster and Ambassador of Harmony Choruses which illustrate clean, precise, singing produced without distractions, consistent energy, melody vs. phrase singing, and micro dynamics. Asking the chorus to sing the ballad, he directed the volume levels while Tony did the same for the energy level (which should always be at a “10” regardless of the volume). He emphasized the need to avoid “flat-lining” (not a new concept but one that needs more attention).

We then did a couple of set run-throughs for recording and for videoing – be sure to check the latter out when Choreo Coach Chuck McKeever posts them!

Joe announced that we are hiring a Piano Professor from Vanderbilt University for our “Harvey Milk” program in Nashville; singing the part of Andrew Lippa (Harvey) will be the choreographer from the Voices of Gotham Chorus; and introduced Heather Krones who is “filling in” for Kristin Chenoweth. We then sang though “Leap,” followed by “San Francisco.”

Joe mentioned that his wife, Bridgette, is working at a Karaoke bar in Occoquan, VA. After Joe sang “New York, New York” a gentleman approached him, congratulated him for his fine singing, said he sang in a barbershop chorus, and suggested Joe visit. He was a bit taken aback when Joe told him he is the director of the Alexandria Harmonizers.

We understand David Jarzen receive (another) “Cappie” for his performance in West Potomac High School’s production of “Starlight Express.” Congratulations, David!! Cappie stands for “Critics and Awards Program.” David received his award at the Awards Gala, June 12th, at the Kennedy Center.

Although Mike Gilmore will be competing with us in Nashville and we’ll see him several times between now and then, I believe tonight was his last regular chapter meeting as a local resident. He and Gigi are moving to Ohio.

It was good to see Bede Bender back from his new home in Vero Beach, FL for a visit.

The George Washington Middle School Choir put on a wonderful program on Monday night – the first “Clash of the Chords” by members of eleven groups of singers in grades 6, 7, and 8. The students picked their own songs, developed their own choreography, and selected their own props … and performed without a care in the world. Well done Casey Belzer, GWMS Choral Director!

Carl Kauffmann directed “Keep The Whole World Singing,” as he took home the “50-50” prize money.

One other thing. Please note the brand new gate installed at the entrance to the back door – installed to facilitate load-in/-out. The Durant Staff (principally Center Director Cheryl Anne Colton) is very pleased with this addition.


Until next time – Alan Wile (subbing for 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 June 7th Chapter Meeting and Welcoming Scott Werner, Director Emeritus

(Thanks to Clark Chesser for taking notes for this report and to Kevin Kaiser for getting the coffee and break refreshments ready this week.  YeEd)

The rehearsal started with a vigorous warm up by Tony Colosimo.

Director Joe Cerutti introduced our special guest and director emeritus, Scott Werner, who was here to practice his portion of our uptune, “Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The crowd erupted in a prolonged applause that was extremely heartfelt. We jumped right in and started practicing the uptune, and Scott must have been practicing his bit, because he picked it up extremely fast! Before we took our break, we started honing the ballad, “Yesterday,” incorporating the things we learned with David Wright at last weekend’s retreat at McDaniel College.


Before we took our break, chapter executive director Terry Reynolds, welcomed all our many guests who had come to see Scott including Mike Everard, Al Hanenbaum, Al Herman, Bill Sowers, Bob Wachter, Joe Cerutti Sr., TJ Jones and Martin Banks who had prepared a special history display for the nite.


Terry also welcomed back new dad, Josh Roots, and announced the birth last of his and Amy's daughter, Hope Elizabeth Roots - born May 30th and weighing 5.3 oz! Josh treated the chorus to several boxes of Dunkin Doughnuts Munchkins for break time snacks! Yum!


Terry reported that Jack Pitzer was one of the citizens honored tonite by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors with the title Lord Fairfax in recognition for his volunteerism in the county including as a member of the chapter.


An extra rehearsal was announced for Thursday nite June 9th at 7 - 10 pm at Convergence sanctuary.  Joe will be there to help us with a vocal studio for the uptune – come when you can for as long as you can.


Carlos Barillo reminded the guys to check their uniforms and make sure that everything fits, and if it doesn't to consult with Tom Kern - the chapter uniform maestro. Joe announced that we would not be wearing makeup at international.


Chapter secretary Chris Beuchler announced the following renewals: Dave Welter 39 years; Bob Bates 38 years; Martin Banks 33 years; Al Herman 33 years; Mike Edison 25 years; Anthony Colosimo 23 years; Dave Branstetter 11 years!; Edris Qarghah 8 years; Don Dillingham 7 years; Marvin Evans 6 years and Stan Quick 5 years.


Membership director Rich Hewitt welcomed a bumper crop of guests and our newest applicants Litic Murali, Devon Thompson and Mickey Robertson.


After break, Joe led us in singing the tag "It's a Great Day;" then we launched right into drilling the ballad. We then went back to the uptune and ran though it a couple more times, then did a complete run though of the contest set - that really sounded fantastic.


The last part of the rehearsal was spent going over some of the songs from "I Am Harvey Milk", in preparation for our “master class” at International.  Any new members who want to sing in our Milk performance in Nashville and who did not sing it at Strathmore should speak with Terry.


Here is a chance to offer support for Casey Belzer’s middle school chorus concert - Mon, June 13th at 7:30 pm, George Washington Middle School.  Doors open at 7 for early crowds.

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