Looking Back on the June 8-9th International Retreat
Chapter members headed up to Westminster, MD, on Friday nite June 8th to gather for the working retreat of the Harmonizers on campus at McDaniel College. This is a regular event for the chapter prior to going to an International chorus contest. Those who left DC later in the afternoon faced a lot of traffic. The front row worked for several hours that nite with presentation coach David McEachern, from Toronto. Some members met with Steve Scott from the BHS staff in Nashville for voice coaching and singing help. Also several members met with Dave Kohls for focus group sessions to discuss a new strategic plan.
Many of the Friday nite attendees had dinner in downtown Westminster at the Irish Pub.
Saturday, June 9th, the rest of the members arrived – all in time for breakfast together. Longtime retreat organizer, Chuck McKeever, had arranged for Saturday breakfast for all. Chuck and his crew had helped guys check in Friday eve and early Saturday. His helpers were Dean Sherick; Bob Blair who drove the truck, too; Jack Cameron; Bob Wells; and Sam McFarland. The riser crew had things ready for the chapter early Friday afternoon.
Saturday morning’s work session started at 8:45 am with associate director Tony Colosimo doing the vocal and physical warm ups. The members were decked out in all sorts of Harmo gear, or in the case of the Class of 2018 (Connor Goss, Jerry Jayjohn, Mario Sengco, Mickey Robertson, Rob Barnovsky, Johan Westberg, Adam Afifi, and Chris Leyen) – their blue/green bandanas. (And some guys sported CAPS gear in honor of their Stanley Cup win!)
Then director Joe Cerutti, just back from a trip to Alaska, officially introduced our coaches for the weekend and welcomed them to go to work after some opening remarks. Joe thanked the guys who had helped with musical leadership during his trip that took him out of town, and he proudly shared the news about the chapter winning the 2018 Greater Washington DC Area Choral Excellence “Ovation: Award sponsored by Choralis Foundation. (We were honored as ‘best a cappella ensemble.’ President Shawn Tallant, assistant director Terry Reynolds, and Tony were there to accept the award on June 6th and presented the trophy to Joe).
Joe invited the chorus to do the first run thru so he and the coaches could observe and listen. Assistant director Chuck Hunter directed the ballad - “We Kiss In a Shadow” arranged by David Wright. Tony directed the uptune – “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” arranged by Rasmus Krigstrom.
Then the judges offered lots of suggestions and ideas. They were a strong team helping us improve all day and evening on Saturday. After lunch on Saturday, the Archbishop Curley High School men’s chorus that was also on campus for the weekend, stopped in to hear our set. Then Joe invited them to join the chapter on the risers and taught them a tag.
Saturday nite after dinner, we worked more and then took a break to relax. The Class of 2018 performed their skit for us all. Joe ranked it the second best skit ever! We also watched videos from the 1998 contest package and a performance of “Director’s Lament.” And then we had refreshments and lots of visiting.
Sunday morning everyone turned in their keys to Chuck and we worked more on the emotion of the ballad. Then Joe thanked the coaching team again and both David and Steve gave their concluding remarks. The chapter gave each of them a Harmonizer camp shirt. Both coaches are eager to see us again in Orlando.
We closed the weekend with the tag we sing every year – “A Lifetime Is Not Too Long to Live As Friends.”
Last minute announcements before everyone took off for home included: Tuesday nite meeting is at Scottish Rite Temple; stay tuned for a possible repeat sing at Strathmore right after our fall show; drive safely.
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