Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Looking Back on the Sept. 17th Appearance at Carnegie Hall
The bus loads of Harmonizers stopped outside of Carnegie Hall in New York City late Sunday morning, Sept. 17th after driving several hours from Reading, PA, and their contest and convention weekend.

The chorus was hired to appear on the 10th annual Circle Wind Concert – a Japan-U.S. Chorus Festival at Carnegie scheduled for 5 pm.  These concerts help raise funds for world tragedies such as 9/11 in NYC, the Tsunami in Japan also in 2011, and now the Hurricanes in Texas and Florida in the US.  The chorus appeared on this festival one other time right after the Tsunami.

This year’s concert featured a group from Spain, Japan Choral Harmony; a Circle Wind Boys and Girls Choir;  a Japanese girls’ choir; Tohoku University mixed chorus and the university male chorus; and the Harmonizers, who sang last.  The Alexandria chorus sang Neil Diamond’s “America,” “There Must Be a City” spiritual from THE FAIRFIELD FOUR, “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “All You Need Is Love” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.” When the cheering audience and other performers called for an encore, the Harmonizers performed “New York, New York” as we had done on the 2011 show.

The concert began will all countries represented on the stage and each country’s singers sang their National Anthem.

The busses had left Reading at 7:15 am with a stop for lunch en route. After a solid rehearsal in a sixth floor rehearsal room in Carnegie, there was a break for dinner and changing into the black suits with tie.

Terry Reynolds and director Joe Cerutti spoke during the Harmonizer segment of the show.  The entire show lasted about two and a half hours. We also all sang a song in Japanese (which we had learned on the busses en route.) that was the finale of the show.

There were a number of Japanese folks that had been with us the first time and so those musical friendships continued.

After the successful show, guys changed back into casual travel gear and many loaded the first bus to head back to Maryland and Virginia. The remaining 30 or so singers and family members went to Applebee’s for an afterglow with other performers.  There was a lot of singing –each group taking turns singing another song.  Since nearly no one could communicate in words, we sang to each other.  When we sang “New York, New York” again, our new friends came and did the chorus kick line too! We sang part of the “Chicago” medley and that really got the young Japanese singers excited, as they knew the songs from Chicago! When we sang “Keep The Whole World Singing,” there were no dry eyes - the essence of the song with singers from around the world. We had to rush to our bus parked outside! A fond farewell to all.

The afterglow gang got back to Virginia about 3 am.

This event was certainly one more “Breathless Moment” for Harmonizers and especially for the many men who had not been on the Carnegie stage before.  Twelve year old Micky Robertson certainly had a milestone moment.  He was interviewed by Japanese media.

Luckily we did not have to do risers, sound or such in this famous theater. YeEd hears from members that the venue was beautifully renovated since our last appearance there.

Shawn Tallant deserves much credit for the success of this event having worked for months as our primary contact with the Japanese organizers of the concert, plus working on all communications, organizing, arranging busses and coordinating hotel payments for our singers.

Also credit is due to Bob Rhome who did amazing work in helping the members prep for packing, bus departures and scheduling. His bus co-captains were Steve Murane, Clyde Crusenberry and Rob Barnovsky. Craig Kujawa collected for the afterglow. Certainly director Joe Cerutti and associate director Tony Colosimo and choreographer Carlos Barillo helped get the chorus up to their peak after a long bus ride! Chorus manager Mark Klostermeyer helped get the large chorus from point A to point B on 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 70th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd

Looking Back on the Sept. 15-16th Fall M-AD Contest
What a busy weekend for the Alexandria Harmonizers chapter and its family!
Just looking at the grid of bus schedules and reporting times and duty rosters and charts related to our chapter hosting the district contest would wear out most barbershoppers, let alone preparing for competition and then doing a show at Carnegie Hall on Sunday evening.
This was the first time for the M-AD fall contest and convention to be in Reading PA.  The headquarters hotel was the Doubletree where some of us stayed but the bulk of the chapter was at the Crowne Plaza, several blocks away.  About four blocks from the headquarters was the contest venue – the Santander Performing Arts Center which had been a stage and auditorium for vaudeville. It was a grand old theater with huge ornate lobby, many rehearsal and warm up rooms and lots of steps.
The chorus finished in second place with a score of 88.7 percent with 82 men on the risers.  We sang a lovely ballad arranged by Brent Graham with two songs intertwined – “The More I See You/There Will Never Be Another You” and a rousing fun uptune arranged by Rasmus Krigstrum – “Blow Garbiel, Blow” with classic Harmonizer Broadway-style staging created by chapter choreographer Carlos Barillo. The chorus wore their black suits with narrow black tie and a new blue pocket stuffer prepared for each man by Robyn Murane.
Director Joe Cerutti and his team including associate director Tony Colosimo, assistant directors Terry Reynolds, Chuck Hunter and Mike Kelly, section leaders Brian Ammerman, Reed Livergood, Chuck Hunter, Andrew Havens and Tom Jackson, plus video recorder Chuck McKeever worked hard on introducing this package to the chorus and helping them prepare for this contest in just a few months.  The choreography was added after the chorus returned from Harmony University in Nashville at the end of July.
The chorus assembled early Saturday morning at the contest venue for a warm up session with TonyJoe then worked on reviewing and getting the chorus onto the stage.  This was the first contest appearance with the chapter for Litic Murali and Adam Afifi.
Our second place was sandwiched between our Hershey Parkside Harmony friends who won first with a score of 91.2 percent and our Hells Kitchen Voice of Gotham friends who won third with a  score of 86.7 percent.
Besides the chorus contest described above, we had a lot of guys singing in the quartet contest.  Many of them also worked to help with the convention and take on other tasks.  Ending in seventh place after the finals round was CAPITAL CITY CLOSE HARMONY CLUB with Mario Sengco, Jordan Headtler, Chuck Hunter, Ken White.  Ken was emcee for the chorus contest on Saturday too.

SILVER ALERT with Rick Savage, Mike Edison, Will Cox, Steve Murane came in fourteenth in the contest, and NATURAL SEGUE with Scip Garling, Noah Van Gilder, Jeff Burkey, Terry Reynolds came in twenty-first.

YOUTH RECLAMATION PROJECT Mike Wallen, Roger Tarpey, Hardman Jones, Vic Owen Jr. won most improved quartet and were named M-AD seniors quartet representative for the January mid winter contest.

New district quartet champs are GIMME FOUR from NJ who have helped us with our youth harmony camp in the past.
Besides Ken White as emcee, Bill Colosimo was emcee for the first half of the quartet contest on Friday nite, and Tony was emcee for the second half.  They played off of each other the whole time.  District president Dennis Ritchey was emcee for the Saturday nite Jamboree after all the contests ended. The top three choruses sang on that show and each chorus chose not to sing their contest package from the afternoon, so we heard some new music.  Alexandria sang one of the spirituals learned from the FAIRFIELD FOUR (and Joe took time to explain why we learned them and mentioned our show this fall).  (Also great to see the chapter’s advertisement in the convention program announcing the upcoming shows!)
DA CAPO sang on the Jamboree, and then the finale was a moving presentation by the Mid-Atlantic District Association of Quartet Champions chorus and their president Steve White to recognize this year’s new quartet champs.   Several of our chapter men were on the risers for this event.
Mic testers several times over the weekend was DA CAPO with Ryan Griffith, Tony Colosimo, Joe Sawyer and Andrew Havens who were last year’s district quartet champs. The quartet also made themselves available for a chance for anyone to sing-a-tag-with-the-champs.  This project raised several hundred dollars for youth programs in our district.

Mic testers for the chorus contest was a Joe and Jane Barbershop chorus directed by Bill Colosimo and a couple of our members sang with them – Keith Jones and Sam McFarland.  And great to see our BHS CEO Marty Monson singing on the risers with them too.  Marty was here from Nashville as official representative of the Society board of directors and he was at all the contest events over the weekend and met in an open forum (along with district leaders) with anyone who wanted to chat or exchange ideas.  He also attended the House of Delegates meeting on Sunday morning as did several of our chapter leaders since a number of them are on the board including Dennis as president, Bob Eckman as executive vice president and Keith Jones as secretary. Past chapter president Alan Wile served as our chapter’s official delegate since current president Randall Eliason was en route to NYC to sing at Carnegie Hall.

As if they didn’t have enough to do, several of our members helped other choruses and sang in the contest with them:  John Santora sang with Patapsco Valley, MD; Rick Taylor sang with Dundalk. MD; Mike Vlcej and Pookie Dingle sang with Hershey, PA; Mike Wallen directed Richmond and Bob Wilson, Eric Wallen and Mike Geipel sang with them; and Mike Fasano sang with Queen Anne’s County, MD.

During a break of the chorus contest, the annual naming of the M-AD Hall of Honoree for the year was conducted by this year’s chairman Keith Jones. Besides Keith, other current members in the Hall of Honor include Wachter, Jordan, M Wallen, Wile, S White, B Colosimo, R Taylor, Pitzer, T Reynolds, Kelly and Santora.

Mike Kelly and his crew worked all weekend doing video and photo work so all contestants could have a record of their performance. Mike is on the district events team along with David Welter who is their treasurer.

Finally, how to recognize all the work done by the chapter in hosting this big event?  Likely the best way would be to print the chapter membership roster of all the guys and include all of the significant others and family friends. There were black Harmo camp shirts everywhere you looked in the Performing Arts Center.  Key players were Ian Poulin, along with Shawn Tallant and Bob Rhome. Ian thanked Carl Kauffmann for his guidance and support as previous contest chair for the chapter. Steve Murane published a convention book for chapter members with useful info for planning their trip to the convention. YeEd was proud to see many men taking on the responsibilities to make things flow well this first time that the district used this venue! Thanks to all of the members who contributed cookies and snacks for hosting the judges at the contest during the weekend. Thanks to Matt Doniger and the men who help move risers around all weekend too!
Though many Harmonizers drove to Reading, one bus load left at 7:15am on Friday from the Scottish Rites Temple parking lot in Alexandria. This bus got work crews to the contest site for helping with set up, contestants there for the contest and other leaders there for their duties. A second bus load then left about 2:30pm. The busses also stopped in Maryland to get some members who live far away from Alexandria.
NOTE: Details about the Carnegie Hall appearance Sunday Sept. 17th, and the afterglow in New York City will be in a separate Looking Back report.
Because of all the hard work the chorus has been putting in as preparation for the contest weekend and Carnage Hall appearance on Sunday, Joe has cancelled rehearsal this Tuesday, September 19th. We will be meeting next on September 26th at First Baptist Church, 2932 King St.
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 70th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd