Friday, April 20, 2018

Looking Back on the April 14th 2018 Aca-Challenge

The Harmonizers hosted the fifth-annul Aca-Challenge April 14th at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in DC. This year’s event was presented by the Harmonizers, hosted by contemporary a cappella spokesperson Deke Sharon, and co-sponsored by the venue. Jason Lee headed this event for the chapter with help from TBD.

Here is a report of the event from Gary Cregan. (Thanks for taking notes Gary, And for filling in details by Robyn Murane.YeEd.)

“It was a packed house, with hardly any seats available. The crowd was quite varied, ranging from young teens up to folks who could have been their great-grandparents. There was a lot of excitement for the show to begin, and everyone was looking forward to some great a cappella singing.

“The emcee for the event was a cappella advocate Deke Sharon who bounded onto the stage and helped the crowd prepare for a nite of great singing. He said that the Historic Synagogue at Sixth & I reminded him of his college experience singing, and gave the origin of the term a cappella (Italian for ‘in the style of the chapel’). He also announced that the show was being broadcast on FloVoice ( He closed his introductory remarks by talking about the rules, and the prizes, concluding by saying “when you sing a cappella, everybody wins.”

ConneCT, from Connecticut and consisting of nine performers (four women and five men), took the stage wearing grey tones, and gold armbands that related to the plot of their set. This group varied from the format of a three song set by performing a ‘mini-musical’ consisting of three related original songs. The crowd was very enthusiastic to hear music they had never heard.”

“In the break between acts, Deke gave a brief history of a cappella music, starting with Gregorian chant all the way through doo wop. He introduced the next act, The Workshop, hailing from NYC and wearing black and grey, who took the stage with six women and five men. They performed three songs, each of which was applauded with enthusiasm.”

“Before introducing the next act, Deke described how recorded music has changed the way we approach music, because now that we have recordings, there isn’t a requirement to be able to perform in order to have music. He also started giving judge’s resumes, starting with our own Tony Colosimo.”

“The next act was DaCadence, from University of Maryland. Wearing all black, this group consisted of five women and seven men. Their three song set was extremely well-received by the audience.”

“Deke’s next patter was an introduction of judge Mike Rowan, director of communications for ChorusAmerica.”

“The only all-woman group of the evening, BluesTones, came to the stage wearing black with blue accents. These ladies from James Madison University were enthusiastically cheered by the crowd after each of their three songs.”

“After the BluesTones, Deke presented the resume of judge Amanda Cornwallis, senior manager of FloVoice.”

“The next contestant group was Word of Mouth, a DC local group, who wore blues, blacks, and whites. They had an even mix of six women and six men, and two of their songs were popular enough that even the older folks in the crowd recognized them (‘The Time of My Life’ and ‘Lady Marmalade’).”

“Before the last group came out, Deke invited the audience to visit the Harmonizer’s ‘Learn a Tag’ and display table. He then introduced GW Vibes, who was a last-minute fill in when Out Of The Blue had to bow out.”

“GW Vibes was also a big crowd favorite, bringing six women and seven men to the stage, dressed in tones of grey and black. Before they started, one of the ladies announced that their set was an exploration of mental health issues, warning anyone in the audience that they were going to deal with very dark themes. The audience enjoyed it very much, despite the theme.”

“Deke announced the intermission, and the judges departed to deliberate.”

“After the intermission, Deke introduced two exhibition groups, the first of which was Evolve, a co-ed a cappella group from Chesapeake Senior High School in Pasadena, MD.  Deke discovered them during one of his youth festivals. Despite the fact that they have only been around for two years, Deke said that they were so good, he had to pull the members of Evolve out of the larger group to work on their own music.”
Evolve took the stage in all black; the men had blue accents and the women had silver accents. Their performance was very impressive, and they followed the format of the contest, presenting three songs. The crowd was quite impressed.”

“Finally, Deke came out to introduce our own TBD, who came out in their black suits. This Harmonizer a cappella group includes Terry Reynolds, Todd Ryktarysk, Clark Chesser, Reed Livergood, Jeff Burkey, Troy Hillier, Noah Van Gilder, Nick Leiserson, Joshua DesPortes, Kellen Hertz, Scipio Garling, and Josh Roots.”
“Their first number was “All You Need Is Love,” with solos by Noah and Josh. Reed stepped out during the tag and asked everyone in the audience to tell their neighbor “all you need is love,” and then led audience participation.”

“Terry stepped out next to talk about TBD’s mission, then brought Deke out to discuss his arrangement of their next song, “The Rhythm of Love.””

“Finally, Scipio stepped up to introduce TBD’s final number, “Take You There.” Following the massive applause for TBD, Deke came back out with the results of the competition.”

“Deke did a great job of building suspense, leading off with the audience favorite (determined by electronic voting), which was the BluesTones. He then announced the 2nd runner up (third place), which was DaCadence, 1st runner up (second place), was BluesTones, and the winner of the $1000 prize, GW Vibes.”

As usual there was a large contingent of Harmonizer helpers that nite too.  This was not a theater so back stage was a little crowded but our crew of Randall Eliason, Adam Afifi, Steve Murane, Robyn Murane and Nick Leiserson make it work smoothly.

There were about 400 attendees.  A Harmo crew served greeters. Programs were available for guests before they took their unreserved seats in pews in the synagogue. There was an afterglow after the show for premium ticket customers to meet Deke and visit with the contestants.  Ken Rub managed this aspect of the event with Clark Chesser.  There was a membership table there too coordinated by Dave Kohls with Bruce Roehm, Dean Sherick, Mario Sengco, and Steve Murane.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Looking Back on the April 17th 2018 Chapter Meeting 

Everyone came ready to work again this week, especially with coach Kevin Keller scheduled to work with us.  Associate director Tony Colosimo did the vocal warm up before director Joe Cerutti officially welcomed Kevin. Kevin, Joe and Tony had dinner before the meeting and so they had coordinated many aspects of the training and coaching plan for the nite even before the chorus arrived.

As usual a crew of guys set up the risers, AV equipment and break supplies early.  The board also met at 5:45 pm prior to the meeting.

So at 7 pm, Joe launched the work nite by singing our new ballad.  And Kevin went right to work at making suggestions, teaching us new techniques and offering advice to Joe. Dean Rust, who was fighting a cold, was at a table taking notes for us all – as he always does!  Thanks Dean.  It was a profitable evening.

The chapter meeting was conducted by executive director Terry Reynolds.  He again reminded the chapter that Thurs April 19th, and Tues April 24th rehearsals will be at Convergence and working on the Iron and Coal material.  The director and composer for that music will be with us both nites. As a reminder, any Harmonizer or family member can get a 20% discount for tickets for the Iron and Coal performance – use code “Harmonizers” when ordering tickets on the Strathmore website.

He also stressed that section leaders are eager to get all recordings from singers preparing for the contest before May 17th so all members are approved well before the retreat in June.

He reminded guys to turn in their payment for the chorus retreat to Howard Nestlerode. The retreat will be June 8-9-10 at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, (about 70 miles from Springfield).  Friday June 8th will be mandatory for front row and optional for all others with special sessions for the small groups to be coached. There are many good restaurants in town and it is a good social time on Friday nite. Fees include lodging; three meals on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday; plus linens and a Saturday evening party. There are three price levels – Friday-Sunday attendees ($114); Saturday-Sunday attendees ($83); and commuters who won’t be staying any nite ($78). Non-competing members are welcome to attend. Fees are due in advance and should be given to Howard Nestlerode, or Jack Cameron if Howard is not present, before May 29th. All requests for roommate assignments are due to retreat master, Chuck McKeever, by Tues. May 8th.

Randall Eliason spoke again as cheerleader for our participation in Spring2Action on April 25th and reminded everyone to use their pledge form and send emails to friends and relatives and coworkers and other barbershop singers this week.  Then send them a reminder on the 25th. .  He has sent us all sample emails to use for this project. The chapter earns extra funds for numbers of donors – even if the gift is just $5. Tho our published goal is to exceed last year’s total, Randall and Joe strongly hinted that we could make up to $100,000 if every guy did some work on this.  

AND everyone who turns in a pledge form as proof of who they emailed, will be eligible for a drawing for free housing in Orlando at the convention!

Finally, don’t forget the party at Virtue Feed and Grain in Old Town Alexandria on the 25th.  The restaurant gives a percentage of the take that nite to the chapter as their support of our Spring2Action effort.

Uniform chairman Robyn Murane has name badge magnets for sale at $2 each.  She is still eager to collect all unused uniform parts as per her recent messages.

President Shawn Tallant expressed chapter appreciation for all the hard work from many members who helped manage the Youth Harmony Festival on Fri. April 14th, and to manage the Aca-Challenge on Sat. April 15th including chairmen Tony Colosimo for the YHF and Jason Lee and TBD for the Challenge.
As promised at the meeting, the president has emailed all members the latest Alexandria Harmonizer Youth Protection Policy.  All members should read and observe.

Shawn gave an update on the possible Brazil trip in 2019 – we are close to having enough singers, so chapter leaders will call some of the “no or maybe” votes to confirm (“maybe” votes were taken as a “no” vote at the time of the survey),  Stay tuned.

The funeral service for Carolyn Hall, Dick’s widow, will be Wed. April 25th at Oxon Hill Methodist Church, 6400 Livingston Rd., Oxon Hill MD 20745 – viewing at 10 am and service at 11:30 am.  Burial will follow the service at Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery and then there will be a reception at Charleston Senior Community facility at 45 St. Patrick’s Dr., Waldorf, MD 20603.

Secretary Chris Buechler presented a membership renewal to Bob Wachter for his 66 years of BHS membership.  That one earned a standing ovation from the chapter!

Membership chief Dave Kohls thanked the men who helped staff a membership table at the Aca-Challenge.  Then he welcomed returning guests David and Janagan, and first timers John and Thomas

After the coffee break, we worked more with our coach on the ballad and on the uptune.  Joe and the chorus members were eager to thank Kevin for his help and work to help us do our best.
Just before closing, we were able to make another recording to turn in. 

Then we closed the nite singing “Great Day” which is one of our important songs for the anniversary show- Platinum Moments.  Learning tracks for the songs on that show are coming out on the website soon.
In other news, president Shawn reports, “Thanks to the very generous support provided by many Harmonizers and their families (40 or so families), we recently received a check for $5,221.65 representing our Donor Choice proceeds for the six months ended last December.  As you can see, in addition to supporting the good work of the Harmony Foundation, this program provides an important source of revenue for our chapter.  

A good crowd got over to the afterglow to visit with Kevin – and to watch the overtime win of the CAPS!

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Looking Back on the April 13th 2018 Youth Harmony Festival

The Harmonizer’s 10th Youth Harmony Festival was another great success with amazing energy and great singing and fun for all.

A couple things were different this year, The location was in Arlington at Restoration Anglican Church which was a great space for snacks and breaks, rehearsal spaces and for the evening show; and the other big change was the effort to have it on a Friday.  Honestly it was not as successful as hoped as a way to got more students.  

Another great addition was having Deke Sharon, an avid a cappella spokesperson, there from start to finish.  He offered inputs to the music educators present (they met as a group to swap ideas during the day). He prompted parents at the show to support their young family members who are interested in music and the arts. For sure he added lots of excitement to the student singers. And the Harmonizer members had fun meeting and chatting with him individually.

Associate director Tony Colosimo was dean of the school.  We had two outstanding teaching quartets to help coach, encourage, and sing with the students.  And both performed at the kick off session, sang tags with the students all day, and then did full show sets on the evening show for family and friends.

THE LADIES quartet from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area represented SAI at our festival.  They won the Rising Star Award for 2016 at the competition in New Zealand and are Region 10 champs for SAI.

GIMME FOUR from our own district and the Caldwell NJ area represented the BHS.  They are the 2018 M-AD quartet champs. This was their second time to come help us with our festival.

For the evening show, the Harmonizers started things off with a set of “America,” “Bring Him Home” with Tony as soloist, and “All You Need Is Love” with Clyde Crusenberry and Tony on solos. Director Joe Cerutti did the chorus warm up and directed on the show. This was the first Harmo show for Jerry Jayjohn and Connor Goss.

The youth went wild with applause and standing ovations for the quartets and chorus!  They clapped and cheered and participated with the groups on the show.

The youth attendees sang on the show too and were a huge hit with the crowd of parents, friends and supporting Harmonizers.  Our own Mikey Robertson attended as a student and sang a solo in the men’s chorus.

Lots of Harmonizers worked all day providing support for the event – especially in organizing snacks, lunch and a pizza feed for the students, coaches and educators – including Bob Blair, Rob Barnovsky, Walt Page, Jack Pitzer, Alan Kousen, Casey Belzer, Randy Lazear, Gary Cregan, Dean Sherick and Clyde Crusenberry.

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